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Recently I returned my 2014 328i at lease end. This ended a 9 year BMW run starting with a 2008 328i. All had manual transmissions and RWD. Due to a job change requiring a lot of driving, leasing is no longer an option. Thus the purchase of a 2017 GTI. Mine is a 4 door painted Midnight Blue Metallic and has 3 pedals. It's the Sport model meaning Clark plaid cloth seats with manual control except the seatback angle, Adaptive HID lights and the Performance Package. The PP gives you an extra 10 HP for 220 (with 91 octane fuel), R model brakes and a mechanical limited slip differential.

It's a very agile little sedan. Turn in is immediate and the EPS is beautifully weighted and accurate. At higher speeds the weighting increases in turns. Wonderful! The GTI engine is a 2.0 liter turbo that is quite powerful. Power drops off sharply after 5500 rpm although the redline is about 7000. You can easily chirp the tires off the line and even in the upshift to 2nd gear. The GTI is a blast to drive and prompts you to push harder.

Now some comparisons to the current F30 328i. My 2014 was the RWD Sport Line model with manual transmission, configured as sporty as possible. It was a terrific car but lacked the driving dynamic where you'd drive an hour to find the nearest twisty roads. The main culprit was the EPS. BMW really dropped the ball in tuning the steering system. It was loose off center, and barely alive otherwise. Even a switch to Continental DWS06 high performance all season tires couldn't fix this issue. Otherwise the chassis was balanced and handling was very good if lacking excitement due to the lack of feedback.

What is immediately obvious is that the BMW is far more of a luxury car than the VW with much more content. My VW lacks power memory seats, automatic climate control, automatic headlights and a few more features. It's pretty basic although it does have keyless entry and Sirius radio. This Sport model hits the performance sweet spot but gives up the above to reach a price point. By the way my Sport with a few minor options retailed for just over $29,000.00 including destination fees. My BMW was over $43,000.00.

Here's the main difference between the 2 cars: The 3 series includes a wide range of vehicles, from the 320i to the 340i, with RWD, AWD, long wheelbase and SAV models. There is no distinct sports model (M cars do not count in this comparison). BMW has not taken the opportunity to tune a distinct sporty model. All they offer now is the MSport model which gives you the 704 suspension but continues with the same steering as the other models.

VW on the other hand markets the GTI as a separate vehicle from the Golf on which it's based. It has it's own steering and suspension tuning as well as the more powerful engine and various other details. It's designed to be a sports sedan while the 3 series is designed to be a sporty sedan.

The engines make for an interesting comparison. Both are among the very best 4 cylinder turbo gas engines on the market. The BMW engine is a true gem, super smooth and rev happy. It probably makes 260-270 hp at the crank. The VW engine is not quite to that level. It's not as strong or as flexible. VW uses wider transmission ratios than BMW which hurt acceleration in the numerically lower ratios but help fuel economy. If the BMW engine is a 10, the VW's is an 8.
 

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Thanks Michael! I've thought about getting a GTI many times, but am always lured back to BMW due to the attractive lease deals (VW level payment for a BMW). If you're buying it's a no brainer to get the GTI. As it is, I'm still tempted to get the GTI for my next car (even when leasing) because I think I'll ultimately enjoy it more.

I could be wrong but does the Autobahn trim include auto climate control, headlights and memory seats?
 

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thanks Michael for your thoughts, interesting read

the only contradicting thing I found is that you took out the M model in the comparison while including GTI that "VW markets as a separate vehicle from the Golf on which it's based"


since you owned both the E90 and the F30 this might be interesting for you about the suspension changes:

http://blog.caranddriver.com/a-tale-of-two-bmw-3-series-a-chassis-rig-reveals-why-the-e90-and-f30-feel-so-different/
I consider the M3 to be a different model. When a 328 starts at under $39k and an M3 at $64k it's not the same car. Not to mention to seats suspension tranny, etc. The GTI is not revised the that extent and starts at under $26 k.
 

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What about road noise? How about the ride over different types of surfaces?

And lastly, taking everything into account, which do you like better, the BMW or the GTI? Also, is there a reason why you didn't add more options to increase the creature comforts a little, like auto headlights, ACC, etc?
 

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I'd call you a traitor, except this is the wrong forum, and I'm just kidding anyway. Sounds like a fun ride.
 

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Discussion Starter #7 (Edited)
What about road noise? How about the ride over different types of surfaces?

And lastly, taking everything into account, which do you like better, the BMW or the GTI? Also, is there a reason why you didn't add more options to increase the creature comforts a little, like auto headlights, ACC, etc?
The ride is a bit firmer but better controlled than my 704 equipped 328i. It's tuned for go flats which may help. The road noise is about the same.

The last part of your post is hard to say. I like that the GTI is sportier and more eager. That really works for me. I don't like the lack of features. I miss the auto headlights and the auto climate control. The smaller trunk is a minor issue. Overall I'm thrilled with the car. Ideally a brand new E90 would have been perfect :).

The reason I bought the Sport instead of the SE or Autobahn trim levels is mainly cost. An SE with lighting package is $32K.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Michael,

You should really move this thread to a place where people will see it. It's buried here.
This is the best place for it although I agree this forum does not get many hits. It's too OT for the F30 forum. I will place a link in one of the F30 threads where I mentioned my new car. Maybe that will help.
 

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I dont think its too OT, as I think there might be more people than you think comparing a base 320 with a car like this. Its nice that you are trying to make sure you dont take extra privileges because you are a mod, but I feel it belongs in the 3/4 series forum as much as any other car comparison is there.

The budget for a 320 is higher thats for sure, but its not 20K higher. I would not have found this thread if you had not linked to it in other discussion, and I am here (bimmerfest) A LOT.... so if I would not have found it, I doubt many others would have either.

(thanks for linking it and posting it btw.. interesting read).
 

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I dont think its too OT, as I think there might be more people than you think comparing a base 320 with a car like this. Its nice that you are trying to make sure you dont take extra privileges because you are a mod, but I feel it belongs in the 3/4 series forum as much as any other car comparison is there.

The budget for a 320 is higher thats for sure, but its not 20K higher.

Right - and they are even closer for people who lease. Bmws tend to have great lease deals while VW is poor to mediocre.

And although they are technically in different classes, I actually think there's more cross shopping of f30s/GTIs than, say, f30s with some of the Japanese competition such as the q50 or Lexus IS.
 

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The BMW makes a better highway car and VW makes a better city and canyon run car. They are different
 

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I love my 2015 GTI. Can't beat it price wise. VW doesn't nickel and dime you for things like heated seats, xenons, acc. They were all included in the $32K price. :)
 

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The BMW makes a better highway car and VW makes a better city and canyon run car. They are different
True but the GTI is perfectly fine on the highway. The main issue is that the 3 series has always been a great canyon carver. It no longer is as inspiring in that context. BMW has obviously made the decision to move the car in a different direction. The question is if the 2 series will be available with 4 doors and will it be the enthusiast choice.
 

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True but the GTI is perfectly fine on the highway. The main issue is that the 3 series has always been a great canyon carver. It no longer is as inspiring in that context. BMW has obviously made the decision to move the car in a different direction. The question is if the 2 series will be available with 4 doors and will it be the enthusiast choice.

Sounds like there may be 4 door 2 series in the next gen but unfortunately it will likely be on a fwd platform. From what I gather, BMW is planning to move the 1/2 series to fwd.
 

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True but the GTI is perfectly fine on the highway. The main issue is that the 3 series has always been a great canyon carver. It no longer is as inspiring in that context. BMW has obviously made the decision to move the car in a different direction. The question is if the 2 series will be available with 4 doors and will it be the enthusiast choice.
I think the 2 Series is probably the competitor to the GTI. I think the GTI would be a bit more raw in the city and the 2 series a bit more comfortable on freeway although all VW's and BMW's are made to run well on Autobahn :D

If I did more city and traffic driving and wanted something that was cheaper and more economical I would go for the VW but if $10-12K was not a problem then the new 2 series would be the other option. Really depends on where one lives, what kind of driving they do and what their budget is. Either car will cruise easily at 100 or 120 Mph on the freeway or Autobahn.

The seating and driving position of either the VW GTI or 2 series BMW is amazing.:thumbup:
 

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I think the 2 Series is probably the competitor to the GTI. I think the GTI would be a bit more raw in the city and the 2 series a bit more comfortable on freeway although all VW's and BMW's are made to run well on Autobahn :D



If I did more city and traffic driving and wanted something that was cheaper and more economical I would go for the VW but if $10-12K was not a problem then the new 2 series would be the other option. Really depends on where one lives, what kind of driving they do and what their budget is. Either car will cruise easily at 100 or 120 Mph on the freeway or Autobahn.



The seating and driving position of either the VW GTI or 2 series BMW is amazing.:thumbup:

If you want 4 doors the gti is the only option...
 

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The VW golf competitor is the 1series, definitely not the 3 series.
They should sell it in the US, in Europe they sell faster than Justin Bieber tickets in a girls locker room.
 

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The BMW makes a better highway car and VW makes a better city and canyon run car. They are different
Bmw's entry model 1 series is what one could consider their city car and with RWD (for now) and a sturdy, much more balanced chassis than the Golf, it's a far more superior canyon run or spaghetti mountain pass machine.
The 135i was "sports car of the year" about 3 years ago and the latest edition of the '1' is only improved.
 
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