Originally Posted by world_traveler
I am a little dispirited by all this. On my 2006 325i I was able to order HIDs, sat radio and ZSP sport suspension as standalone options. If I read the options for the F30 correctly the Sport Line sport suspension is no different to the base sport suspension: the optional suspension is the M Adaptive which is not available on the base. To top it off you get a four banger, albeit a very strong one, but steering which I found to be less tactile and vaguer than the E90's.
At the end of the day you get a more expensive, technology laden car with a dolphin nose that doesn't connect as much with the driver. The British press seem to love it (Autocar), the Americans are underwhelmed (C&D), and I'm falling in with the latter. I need to drive a manual to really make up my mind (again, now the same price as the slushbox -- try finding a manual in a mid-Atlantic showroom, which shows where BMW's base is moving).
The F30 is far from "bah, humbug". More on that a bit later.
First, your questions.
The standard sport suspension you refer to IS the suspension in the "sport line" and "M sport". The sport suspension is only available in the sport line or Msport.
The sport suspension is different compared to the standard suspension. Sport has shorter, different rate springs, along with different dampers/shocks. Ride height is lower with the sport suspension.
Base, Luxury line and Modern line, do not get the standard sport suspension, their suspension is a standard 3 series suspension
The "Adaptive M suspension" is an altogether different setup. It uses shorter springs, as with the sport suspension, and also includes adjustable and variable dampers for driver selected damper control.
It can be set to give a firmer controlled sport type ride and control, or the other way to give a softer more comfortable ride.
YES you can get the adaptive M suspension on all 328i and 335i models. It can be added to the base, modern, luxury, sport line, and Msport.
Adaptive M suspension is part of the "dynamic handling package", which also includes variable sport steering.
Package price is $1000 for 2013 models. For 2012 adaptive and VSS were separate and cost $1200.
For $1000 you can get the adaptive M suspension along with VSS. It's not a bad cost at all.
You should also consider the sport line's sport seats, they are MUCH better than the standard seats, and add to a sportier feel as they hold you in place when cornering.
You can add the handling pkg to the sport line as well for $1000.
The steering effort becomes nearly the same as the E90 when you set the drive mode to "sport". It's lighter in "comfort" and "eco" mode.
I don't get why people insist that the F30 has been reviewed negatively, or where testers/reviewers were "underwhelmed".
Quite the opposite. Euro and N.American publications have reviewed the F30 quite positively.
The only universal negative has been about the new electric assist steering. Yes, most reviewers feel the previous generations of 3 series had better hydraulic steering systems, that gave better road feel, as well as requiring heavier steering effort.
Remember, steering effort is now adjustable. To get heaviest effort you need to set driver mode to "sport". In sport mode the heft is more like the E90, though not as heavy.
Other than that the F30 has received much praise for the new chassis rigidity, overall smoothness, handling, new N20 engine, fuel efficiency, etc...
The May 2012 C&D has a sport sedan comparo of the usual suspects, and the F30 328i comes out on top, again.
Road and Track did a comparo of nearly the same sport sedans, and they too picked the 328i on top.
Back to the issue of steering and road feel, a BIG factor in steering response, and road feel, as well as braking performance is, TIRES.
C&D mentioned this in the comparo.
The 328i sport line in the C&D comparo was wearing Pirelli P7 all season tires. Not a highly regarded performance all season, and it's lack luster braking distance demonstrates that.
The F30 brakes and their feel and performance were not criticized, as they have reviewed positively with good feel, progressive nature, and solid all around.
The negatives on braking have been about the tires part of the braking equation. The all seasons are just not that great in braking, handling, and steering feel. They ride well, but they are not up to BMW sport sedan expectations.
C&D in this comparo state that F30 3's that have summer performance tires have reviewed to have better handling, better braking, and better steering feel.
Tires are VERY important.
Unfortunately, the base, luxury, and modern lines come with all season RFT's. Sport line and Msport come with summer performance tires, but can be optioned to have all season tires.
I considered the all season tire option for my Msport, but after reading more on the all seasons BMW is using, and looking closer at the tires used in many reviews, I decided to go with the summer tires.
I will be switching to all seasons around October, but I will be using
much better ultra high performance all seasons designed more for performance rather than MPG.
As for trans choice, that is of course up to you and what you like.
From what I've read, if you've had a BMW MT and you like it, then you'll like the MT in the F30. I've had 2 MT BMW's, and I like them a lot.
I did order my 335i Msport with the sport AT after driving the sport AT several times.
Choosing AT over MT has been the trend for decades. Nothing new with the F30, except that there may be even more sport AT takers given how great it is.
It seems you may someone who appreciates the performance aspect of BMW over it's available luxuries. You don't have to check all the options boxes to get a drivers BMW.
Do yourself a favor and don't drive the base model anymore.
Test drive the sport line with MT or sport AT, and preferably with summer performance tires. Then, make sure to set drive mode to "sport".
That will give you a better feel for a sport driving 3.
If you like it but don't want to get a sport line for whatever reason, then you can get the base model with adaptive M suspension, and put on a proper set of tires.