carmudgeons.com  

Go Back   carmudgeons.com > Automotive Forums > Car Talk

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 10-07-2014, 04:04 PM   #1
Josh (PA)
Hello.
 
Josh (PA)'s Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2004
Carmudgeonly Ride: '03 325xiT, '11 135i C, '13 X5 n55
Location: Downingtown, PA
Posts: 2,964
Some thoughts on my new cars

So its been a couple of months now since we revamped our fleet and I figured I'd share some thoughts. Over the last year we sold our e36M3c, e39 M5, MDX, bought and sold the e90 335xi. We wound up with our current garage of the 135 convertible, 535 wagon and e46 wagon. Overall, I'm really pleased with the way it worked out. I also had the chance to spend a few days with an F30 328i and 228i so I can share some impressions of those as well.

As for our cars, all three seem to fit their roles very well. I think I am most happy with the e46 ('03 325xiT). It is great having a beater wagon that is fun to drive, reliable and yet not nice enough that I have concerns putting a canoe on top or a bike rack in the back. This car was purchased as the primary vehicle for our daughters and has served that role well (teaching her how to drive on it). So far my wife and I have used it a lot more than we expected to. It will also be my primary car on bad weather days. The car isn't fast, but it is very capable, accelerates quickly enough, stops quick enough and handles well enough to provide active safety. Best of all it has a ton of spunk and a good dose of soul. Like the end of the conversation in the GT3 thread, it is a car that is fun and endearing at safe road speeds. The fact that it is an xi with jacked up suspension on 16" wheels doesn't hurt its ability to entertain. Couple that with a vinyl interior and rubber mats everywhere means I can take my son creek hopping and frog catching, throw a bunch of muddy crap in the back and not give a F. It also means my daughters hockey and soccer stink is easy to eliminate after they left their equipment bags in overnight. The size is right, it fits a lot of stuff but feels tidy. For what we paid for it, I give it an A+, I can't think of another option that would have worked out better.

The 135 comes in a pretty close second. It scratches our convertible itch perfectly, plus has enough creature comforts to be a decent daily driver. I love the transmission and turbo six engine. The brakes are awesome, probably the best of any car I've owned. The CCC version of I-drive is excellent, I like the NAV w/ traffic, HD radio and hard drive full of music. The back seat fits two kids with more room than the e36, and they sit lower in the car with better wind management so they don't complain nearly as much. Small to average size adults fit back there well for lunch runs. The trunk is surprisingly large for a car of this size, meaning it doesn't eliminate use of the car for grocery runs, etc. The steering isn't as alive as the m3, and the chassis seems to not control its weight as well. The limits are very high, but the driving involvement isn't as visceral as I would ultimately prefer. That's not to say the car isn't fun, but it is a step back in involvement from the e36. Given my list of requirements, (stick shift, usable back seat, ability to daily drive, newish in car technology, soft top), I don't think I could have found a better fit. A boxster might be a more interesting drive, but the kids would have been very displeased with me. An s4 or e93 M3 might have been possibilities, but I didn't like the folding hard top complexity of the m3 and I hate the Audi maintenance options locally. I wish they made a 1M convertible, but since that doesn't exist, the 135 is a good alternate. Its a car that my daughter will actually ask me to take her for a ride in when she's overwhelmed with school work so she can decompress. Its a car that puts a smile on all of our faces, it turns a night out for my wife and I into a long drive instead of dinner and drinks. We've been spoiled this summer with near perfect convertible weather, I'd have been sad if we didn't have a soft top to enjoy it with.

The 535 is good, but I am not in love with it. The three major complaints I have are all of my own doing. They were decisions made to make my wife happy and to meet her mileage/cost requirements, so I can't totally blame the car for them. First, it NEEDs new tires and a good balancing/alignment. Right now one of the front wheels is poorly balanced and shakes at ~60mph. I want to get snows on the wheels that are on the car, so I haven't addressed it yet, but will in the next week or two. I'm curious how much that improves the total experience. Second, it is an '09 with the DVD version of I-drive and nav. It is tough going from the 1 series with one of the best in car entertainment UIs to the wagon with a relatively poor one. Given the budget my wife set for this car, I'm not sure I could have found a 2010 model and met her other requirements. Third, I haven't found a very comfortable seat position yet. My biggest complaint is when I adjust the seat bottom and steering wheel to their preferred alignment, the clearance between the bottom of the wheel and my thigh is very tight. I would greatly prefer comfort seats, but again, I haven't seen one optioned the way I'd like at the price/mileage combo my wife would have approved. The automatic deters from the drive (but again, my wife likes it). I don't like that in sport mode it won't shift into 6th gear on the highway. It's not the smoothest transmission either, if I have to drive an auto, I'd like the shifts to be less perceptible. The engine is great. It feels equally as fast as my old 540 wagon, and is as good or better at embarrassing ricers from stop light to stop light. The car is big, roomy and very comfortable. The ride/handling balance I just right for this kind of car (when the wheel isn't vibrating) and I'm looking forward to getting a better impression of the ride once I take care of the tires. It gives up noticeable space over the MDX in the trunk, but the back seat is more comfortable. Packing for vacation this year was more challenging and we've missed not having the 3rd row of seats a couple of times, but the improvements in ergonomics, driving enjoyment, and comfort out-weigh the loss in SUV functionality. I'm hopeful it will be about as good in the snow as the E90x was, if so that will also be a plus over the MDX. I think if you asked my wife for her review, she'd be happier than I am. Similar to the other two reviews, for the price and for our specific needs, its as close to ideal as I can ask for. I wouldn't want an e90 wagon due to the horrible x-drive ride, the small engine, the back seat width and cargo space. I wouldn't have found an x5 for $23k that's as new and low miles as the wagon. I'm sure an A6 avant would have been a really good car to cross shop, but again, I have a great relationship with my BMW mechanic and that is pretty valuable to me.

Finally my parents bought an F30 328lux line and I had a 328 sportline for an overnight loaner recently (both x-drives). My first impressions were positive, I liked it more than expected based on everyone else's comments, but the more time I spent with it the less happy I was. I found the 2.0T engine to be excellent, and plenty of power for the weight of the F30. The steering was not great, I actually found my mom's car to be less noticeable than the one in the sport line car with dynamic whatever, maybe because it was a better fit to the 'lux' personality. The automatic transmission was good for daily driving. The whole thing fell apart when I took it on some back roads and tried to treat it like a 3 series should. The paddle shifters were just slow enough to be a hinderance, the steering didn't seem linear or connected and worst of all the brakes were spongy. The whole package lacked any of the BMW directness that is a main reason for my brand loyalty. Sad.

The 228 loaner was an M-Sport with the steering and handling package, but also an automatic. Again, I thought the engine was great, and had plenty of power for the chassis. The steering was better than on the 3, but at comfort and sport settings not communicative enough. In sport plus, it seemed pretty good, but the chassis tuning and automatic shift tuning was unpleasant for normal driving, I wish you could crank the steering feedback to 11 while leaving the rest of the chassis alone. A convertible version of this car with a manual transmission (especially with an M power plant and chassis set up) would be interesting. I'm very curious to see how the M2 is executed. Hopefully it follows the 1M approach of just being as fun as possible and eschewing max performance goals. This was the first car that I noticed the soundaktor. When I wasn't intently listening for it, it added to the experience and gave the car a decent throatiness that a 2.0T probably shouldn't have. It did seem to get cranked up when changing the driving profile, and in sport + it was very much over the top. On the other hand, there is an old railroad tunnel near my house that I love going through at WOT with the 135 (which as an AWESOME racy exhaust note). I tried that with the windows down and the sunroof open in the 228 and the real engine sound was crap. I came away thinking if the soundaktor could make the engine sound less like crap, then good for it. I wish it was better tuned to a racy 4cylinder than a throaty V8 and not so severely overt, but I don't see it as a bad thing.

Lots of thoughts, sorry for the ramble.
__________________
Josh (PA) -
'11 135i convertible
'13 X5 n55
'03 325 wagon

Last edited by Josh (PA); 10-07-2014 at 04:16 PM.
Josh (PA) is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-07-2014, 06:13 PM   #2
dan
redefined
 
dan's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 12,605
good lord that's a lot of words!
dan is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-07-2014, 06:51 PM   #3
Josh (PA)
Hello.
 
Josh (PA)'s Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2004
Carmudgeonly Ride: '03 325xiT, '11 135i C, '13 X5 n55
Location: Downingtown, PA
Posts: 2,964
Quote:
Originally Posted by undefined View Post
good lord that's a lot of words!
Yes. It had content unlike any of your posts.
__________________
Josh (PA) -
'11 135i convertible
'13 X5 n55
'03 325 wagon
Josh (PA) is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-07-2014, 07:00 PM   #4
Jeff_DML
Old Fart
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Carmudgeonly Ride: turbo,T4R
Location: San Diego
Posts: 6,518
nice writeup, glad you are liking 2 out of your 3 choices.
Jeff_DML is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-07-2014, 09:56 PM   #5
ZBB
Relic
 
Join Date: Oct 2003
Carmudgeonly Ride: A very fast golf cart
Location: The Valley of the Sun
Posts: 11,003
Just curious... Why was the 335Xi not around long?
__________________
ZBB
ZBB is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-07-2014, 10:36 PM   #6
jpgurl
Crotchety
 
Join Date: Oct 2003
Carmudgeonly Ride: '15 Mini Cooper S; '66 Volvo 1800S
Location: Austin, TX
Posts: 1,472
Quote:
Originally Posted by Josh (PA) View Post
Its a car that my daughter will actually ask me to take her for a ride in when she's overwhelmed with school work so she can decompress.

Going for a drive to decompress. That used to be one of my favorite things to do when I was a teenager. Crazy enough, the purchase of the miata has brought that back again. You may have a future car freak on your hands.

Nice write up!
jpgurl is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-07-2014, 10:45 PM   #7
kognito
older fart than ZBB
 
kognito's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2003
Location: On the road again
Posts: 6,860
Quote:
Originally Posted by jpgurl View Post
Going for a drive to decompress. That used to be one of my favorite things to do when I was a teenager. Crazy enough, the purchase of the miata has brought that back again. You may have a future car freak on your hands.
about half the miles I have put on the S4 convertible have for decompression.

90% of the miles have been top down

And yes, nice write up
__________________
2017 GMC Sierra 1500 SLE
2016 Focus SE
kognito is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-08-2014, 08:23 AM   #8
AF
What ev's
 
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 2,179
Really good write up Josh ... I am thinking you need to get that wheel balanced today ... The vibration would drive me insane.

I am a little disappointed on the feeling you had with the new 328 ... I haven't driven a new 3 series in a while but I am going to be test driving one shortly.


Btw 3 bmws in one family ... You've gotta be their number one fan
AF is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-08-2014, 10:44 AM   #9
Josh (PA)
Hello.
 
Josh (PA)'s Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2004
Carmudgeonly Ride: '03 325xiT, '11 135i C, '13 X5 n55
Location: Downingtown, PA
Posts: 2,964
Quote:
Originally Posted by ZBB View Post
Just curious... Why was the 335Xi not around long?
The 335 was purchased to replace the M5 as our family sedan and my daily driver. Unfortunately, the back seat wasn't wide enough for 3 kids to be comfortable, which forced us to take the MDX everywhere (the kids were OK in the back of the e39). The loss of the convertible also left a bigger void than we expected. Once we decided we didn't need the seven seats in the MDX anymore, it put the whole plan in motion of replacing the MDX with the 5 wagon and the 335 with the 135.

The 335 did some things very well. It had a lot of BMW DNA and was engaging to drive (good steering, engine, shifter). It just wasn't interesting enough to replace the M5 or M3 and wasn't big enough to hold our family comfortably. It was great in the snow (AWD + snow tires) and got through everything this last winter threw our way.

The biggest turn off I had was how it responded to potholes. It literally crashed over them, very violently. Every small pothole you hit sounded and felt like you destroyed the car. It was unnerving. The RWD E90s don't have the same behavior. the 1 rides a lot better than the E90x.
__________________
Josh (PA) -
'11 135i convertible
'13 X5 n55
'03 325 wagon
Josh (PA) is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-08-2014, 10:47 AM   #10
Josh (PA)
Hello.
 
Josh (PA)'s Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2004
Carmudgeonly Ride: '03 325xiT, '11 135i C, '13 X5 n55
Location: Downingtown, PA
Posts: 2,964
Quote:
Originally Posted by jpgurl View Post
Going for a drive to decompress. That used to be one of my favorite things to do when I was a teenager. Crazy enough, the purchase of the miata has brought that back again. You may have a future car freak on your hands.

Nice write up!
She is already pretty smitten by the e46 wagon. I'm not sure what it is, but it really has an endearing nature to it. She also loves going for top drown drives, I could totally see her with a Miata or something similar as her first car after college.

I don't know if she'll become a full on wrencher, but she'll most likely not be a camry driver either (if I can parent her correctly).
__________________
Josh (PA) -
'11 135i convertible
'13 X5 n55
'03 325 wagon
Josh (PA) is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Bookmarks

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Forum Jump

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
SUV thoughts Josh (PA) Perseverators Anonymous 21 05-09-2011 10:29 PM
Some thoughts.... lip277 Car Talk 16 03-30-2007 07:51 PM
Thoughts on the R32? TD Car Talk 52 01-23-2006 07:48 AM
thoughts on the e70 / 2nd gen. x5? lemming Car Talk 36 11-29-2004 04:48 PM
Your thoughts on VERY expensive performance cars. FC Car Talk 28 03-16-2004 08:24 AM


All times are GMT -4. The time now is 04:30 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.7.1
Copyright ©2000 - 2018, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
Forums 2003-2008, 'Mudgeon Enterprises - Site hosting by AYN & Associates, LLC