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I drove a 330i 6spd Manual - Here are my thoughts

1331 Views 2 Replies 3 Participants Last post by  volsfan0911
I finally got to drive an E90 330i with Sports package and 6-spd manual transmission. Here are my thoughts:

Exterior: The front overall looks nice - very BMW like. I'm not thrilled about what they did to the kidney grills, but it doesn't look bad like in the pics. I don't like the points on the corner of the headlights, nor do I like the crease that runs between body panels running from the headlight corners to the fenders. The side has a nice profile - they also elongated the sharkfin a bit. The back however gets a thumbs down. The entire rear looks like it was pinched together - very umuscular looking unlike the current E46. The taillights don't looks as bad in person - but still something's wrong.

Interior: Very confusing - lots of good and bad things. They basically took parts from several cars and threw em together. For starters, the drivers door looks straight out of the X3. The passenger's door looks straight out of the 5series (nope the doors are no longer the same). They've changed their vinyl material from the creased leather look on the E46 to the surface of a basketball look (ala X3). I prefer the old style. The steering wheel felt nice - but I think the sports wheel from the E46 was just a tad better. The new stereo unit looks much nicer with a multiline dot matrix screen. All the buttons are soft buttons now, and change depending on what mode you're in. Also they added a full graphic EQ to the logic 7. No more Bass and Treble only. There's also a center speaker on the dash - takes time to get used to, but it's a nice feature. The seats are comfy -have adjustable side bolsters like on the M3s. They don't feel as supportive as the old sports seats, but they're a little softer so I'm sure people will like them. The wood trim looked a little nicer - and there was more of it. But most of all, I miss the driver oriented cockpit. That large flat front dash just doesn't look right at all. Why, BMW, WHY!?!?!?

They've also switched to electric everything. The window switches feel a little different, and the turning signals are electronic (IE they don't stay in the on position, they just trigger the turn signal to turn on). They have two resistance points, one is the change a lane indicator - hit it, and it signals 3 times then goes off.

Driving: BMW did a great job with the driving. It still has that BMW only feel where it lets you feel road bumps but dampens them to a nice little rumble. The steering was taut, especially around a tight corner - it felt sticky and composed. Most importantly to me was the clutch/shifter pair. They fixed the need for a clutchstop. Clutch takeup was smooth and I adapted to it instantly. The stick looks long, but it has nice short throws. They also fixed the armrest problem... It's carved out a little where your elbow is so it doesn't interfere with shifting. The engine sounds beautiful as always, and pickup was solid and smooth. As always, this still isn't a racecar. It has just enough power to keep you happy without making you feel like your driving a rocket ship.

Conclusion: If it were based on driving alone, I'd have no problem buying a new 3er. It will be a great car to own and drive. Aesthetically, it's still a BMW, but its definitely a Bangle/Hooeydonk-Era (not necessarily Bangle-ized) car. It looks nice, but it's starting to blend in with the looks of the G35/M and the Lexus GS lines. Even worse than the exterior (which still has class), is the interior. In my mind, they kept the bad parts (ie the spartan look) and took away the good parts (ie uniqueness, driver-centric interior, sleek style). Overall the car looks to be a understated luxury car, that happens to be very sporty. I thik it will do very well in the market and within a few months everyone and their dog willown one. However I'm glad I bought an E46 while I could.
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Good write up.

Although I still haven't driven one, after reading everyone's thoughts on the E90, I'm still not impressed.
I've driven two now - see my thoughts on the 330i stick test. Personally, I like the interior with several exceptions. I realize that the "temp gauge" on the E46 was basically a glorified idiot light but I still want one. I've always been in favor of dumping the MPG gauge for oil pressure or something useful. I loved the seats (sport pkg), great steering wheel for me and the console/shifter placement was perfect. Push button starting is moronic IMHO. The wood looks very nice. The seat belt anchors need to adjust - I'm 5'8" and like them very low. Every other modern automobile I've sat in has these (since about 1995 or so). Well, with the exception of a recent Volvo. The tail lights look like a Jag. Or a Taurus. Yuck. And they have red rear signals. Double yuck and shame on Bayerische Motoren Werke for stooping to US DOT standards. :rolleyes: They one thing they haven't figured out is this cupholder concept. Guess you can forgive the Germans for that but it ain't rocket science. Go look at a current Accord - simple and they will handle anything from a Red Bull can up to a 32 oz. megasized Tub-O-Soda. Plus there are extras in the door pockets in case you need additional sugar bombs to appease rug rats in the back seat or feel like you must impress your Pilates friends at the gym with 16,721 bottles of water in your car. But I digress :) Overall, I love it. And am probably going to buy one, so I guess that's about the highest praise I can bestow.
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