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      01-07-2013, 05:04 AM   #1
TMP
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Loaner 330d compared to M135i

Had a F30 330d for a few days, including over the weekend. Thought I would share some comparison thoughts on the key differences. ( my previous cars were a 530d then a 330d, so I have been looking forward to getting my hands on the new F30, especially as I had one on order before i heard about the M135i )



The engine.
Now, i think the BMW 3L is the best diesel engine period and I used to really quite like the sound in my previous cars. But i have been spoilt by the 35i, really spoilt.

Cold startup on the 330d...hmm. Dag Dag Dag and as you pull away a surprising amount of diesel like noise. It soon quitenens down though and once warm falls into the background. When being thrashed there is a turbine like wine, before a gruff, but pleasant 6 pot diesel snarl from 3k revs onwards.

In comparison, starting the M-lite is a smiling inducing event that often involves leaving doors or windows open to hear that amazing cold start event!

Performance
The 330d dumps it massive amount of torque very early, which lights up the pretty awesome looking 19's. In fact I found fast starts quite a challenge (it did have summers on but the temp was 9.5c so they should have been fine). The 330d is really best when rolling and from 50mph+ its aneffortless cruiser that makes it a great GT. It changes up at 4.5k revs, so things never get too noisy or dramatic.

By contrast, the M-lIte feels quite a bit faster to 60, as it seems to be able to get all it power down - it hen bangs through the gears far morenoisily up to that 7.2k red line. (The book 0-60 times are 5.6 for the 330d and 4.9 M135i)

Both cars have the same Sport Auto, but the 35i seemsmovethroughthe ratio's slighter quicker (Is this just a trait of petrol engine) Its ratio's are also shorter...
At 70, the 330d is doing an amazing low 1,600 revs compared to 2,000 in the M-Lite.

Economy was roughly 10-15 mpg better than the m135i depending on the driving. i got 48mpg on one gentle run home and when I drove it like I stole it....it still averaged 35mpg! I think on the motorway this car will get comfortably get into the 60s. Of course this is offset a bit by premium Diesel being more expensive than Super UL, plus the 330d took about 15 miles to fully warm up.

Handling
The 330d is big car and you do feel the extra 100+kg. would say its not far off in sizeto the e60 5 series now (even the boot is almost the same size)....so the car feels more floaty and rolls a more compared to the m135.

However, it didn't have adaptive suspension, so not a wholly fair comparison. But overall. its got great balance and allows you to really flow around corners. The more I had it the more confidence I got, and the standard M Sport suspension is much improved ov the previous generation - although the 19s over potholes and even cateyes can jolt in th cabin. Again this aligns to my view that this so more GT, and when the 4 series coupe arrives it will then have the GT look as well.

The big surprise was the difference in feel due to the the lack of VSS (Variable Sport Steering). The normal rack feels slow and required a lot more movement to get out of the dealer car park. First few roundabouts again, car needed a lot more steering input to get it fully move. In contrast, VSS makes the M135i feel sharper and quick to respond...very impressed at this feature.

Equipment / Interior
I need to mention the adaptive lights. My M135i has this too, but the 1er auto dipping feature is very simple (it just dips when there is a carin front). The 3 series system will leave full beam on and shine the lights around the cars! This can means a cartravelingahead of you (or even towards you) is in shadow but either side of them is brilliant Xenon daylight - it's amazing to see and works very well (lots of YouTube vids like this):



Otherwise, the cabin and kit is more or less the same as the 1er. Except, they have enclosed the center front vents in the Alu trim - and this does look better.



The 330d has a oil temp gauge (still a huge miss on the m135i). It also had HK, which while better than the business free upgrade, wasn't the leap in quality I was expecting (the caveat here is, I may be age to tell more difference more when I go back to 'down' to the business system)
The 330d also had a sunroof - found myself using this quite a bit and the extra light is lovely.

The missus said she preferred the look of the 3 series, and i tend to agree. However, this imo is mainly down to the headlights - just spot on and much more aggressive.



Overall, I really liked the 330d... although it took a while to adjust after the petrol. But, I made the right choice with the M135i and for my mileage gives me a lot of fun, for reasonable running costs. Any more mileage or if I did a lot of motorway again (it seemed far quieter than the 1er), the 330d would be top of the list
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      01-07-2013, 06:15 AM   #2
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Very interesting view of the 330d. I came from a E81 so I know what you mean about the F30 being a little bit more 'wafty' The 328i is a similar package, just without the huge dollop of torque. I wanted something quick but after a few previous diesels I wanted to go back to petrol. Just something about the sound of a diesel that makes your heart sink (despite the 330d being such an amazing performer). What does amaze me is that in Comfort Mode on the motorway the 328i is doing 1900rpm at just over 70mph. Not sure if the 330d is similar to that but yes, these are very accomplished mile munchers.

Totally agree on the adapative lights on the F30 - they're brilliant
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      01-07-2013, 06:46 AM   #3
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Mmm, yes good point - the 328i is a real good option too. I hear a M performance exhaust might help with the soundtrack as well?
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      01-07-2013, 06:55 AM   #4
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With Variable Steering and M Sport adjustable Suspension the car is transformed , shame you did not try it.

I drove the M135i for a day and found (for me anyway) it was to noisy over 3K rpm for general driving and on the motorway revs were high at 80 MPH cruising speeds, this and the small size would limit it's appeal to me, but thats my requirements only.
Driven hard the M135i was great, but in my neck of the woods "performance" would not used much, so it's advantage lost in that department.
I still marvel at the Pace of the 330D and astounding accompanying economy.
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      01-07-2013, 07:23 AM   #5
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Good write-up TMP, interesting to read.

I came from a 135i (E82), having had a 335d (E92) before that.

The 135i was a fun car, for sure, loved the sound of the engine (when you were in the mood), little pocket-rocket. The sound - both starting it up in the morning - and when motoring on, did get a bit tiring for me though, as it wasn't something I wanted on every single drive. To overtake a car in a tunnel, I didn't want to scare them half to death, just to subtly overtake, but all the drama and soundtrack eventually became grating for daily driving; and I personally felt the engine - needing to be rev'd more than the big diesels I was used to when pottering about - sort of "egged you on" and I personally found it difficult to drive as smoothly or as calmly as the 335d, and found myself driving more aggressively than I'd like most of the time. I also felt I'd stepped back in time a bit to my MINI Cooper S Works/Golf GTI days when I was younger, the car was the next logical step up from those I guess.

In contrast, the F30 330d is very similar to the E92 335d: effortless, quiet, just gets the job done without shouting about it. The torque available is great. I agree that it's difficult to get going (the 335d was the same), and when on WOT, the diesel obviously runs out, while the 135i keeps on building and building; but for the majority of normal driving, I find the 330d a much better drive, with more accessible power, unless you're wanting to drive like an idiot (which I found happened more than I'd like in the 135i!).

Economy-wise, I'm getting 34mpg in the 330d vs 22mpg in the 135i in the same town/traffic driving. On the motorway: close to 50mpg in the 330d and I got around 35mpg in the 135i, so a good improvement. I also like the different driving modes and have found I use them a lot more than I'd thought: I stay in Comfort most of the time, switching to Eco-Pro when in either heavy traffic or when cruising on the motorway; and occasionally switch to Sport mode if I get an open stretch of nice road, and/or to whip past a couple of cars should the need arise

Interior quality is much better obviously, and the car is more refined generally (though wind and tyre noise are still higher than I was expecting!). I'm also loving the new tech e.g. HK/new Nav/Adaptive Lights/HUD.

The suspension (I have Adaptive M Suspension as well) gives a much better ride in Comfort mode; and it firms up nicely in sport mode. I'm also happy with the steering (non-VSS); my 135i had hydraulic steering, which I thought I'd miss, but I find I actually like the lighter steering in Comfort mode (which is still very accurate and precise, despite being light); and it's nice to have the option to firm it up in Sport mode. There is definitely more body-roll than the smaller 135i, but on the other hand - due to the longer wheelbase at least in part - it feels more stable, planted, and controlled, particularly at speed, and I personally prefer that.

The 330d is - for me - the better car if this is going to be your only car. It's much better for longer journeys, more practical with the extra space and 4 doors (for me, compared with the E82 coupe), and gives you a more appropriate daily drive, with the option of making it sportier if you're in the mood. I loved the 135i and will miss it - my girlfriend particularly so, as it suited her better and I'm having a had time selling the 330d to her [it's our only car]! - but as we only have the only car, for our needs, the 330d suits us much more. All are exceptional cars though - M135i even more so than the 135i obviously - just for different needs
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      01-07-2013, 07:55 AM   #6
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Excellent write-up TMP. Lots of effort. A great read.
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      01-07-2013, 03:50 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by johnbmw6 View Post
With Variable Steering and M Sport adjustable Suspension the car is transformed , shame you did not try it.

I drove the M135i for a day and found (for me anyway) it was to noisy over 3K rpm for general driving and on the motorway revs were high at 80 MPH cruising speeds, this and the small size would limit it's appeal to me, but thats my requirements only.
Driven hard the M135i was great, but in my neck of the woods "performance" would not used much, so it's advantage lost in that department.
I still marvel at the Pace of the 330D and astounding accompanying economy.
VSS and M Sport suspension - Oh yeah sure they are good in the 3er - i really missed them!

i remember your review...agree it is more noisy on the mway, and the 3er is just that bit more refined. As obvious as this is - the 3er sits in between our 5 series and 1 series. And of course, for me we use our 5 series for all the longer trips....

Quote:
Originally Posted by MarkW83 View Post
Good write-up TMP, interesting to read.

I came from a 135i (E82), having had a 335d (E92) before that.

The 135i was a fun car, for sure, loved the sound of the engine (when you were in the mood), little pocket-rocket. The sound - both starting it up in the morning - and when motoring on, did get a bit tiring for me though, as it wasn't something I wanted on every single drive. To overtake a car in a tunnel, I didn't want to scare them half to death, just to subtly overtake, but all the drama and soundtrack eventually became grating for daily driving; and I personally felt the engine - needing to be rev'd more than the big diesels I was used to when pottering about - sort of "egged you on" and I personally found it difficult to drive as smoothly or as calmly as the 335d, and found myself driving more aggressively than I'd like most of the time. I also felt I'd stepped back in time a bit to my MINI Cooper S Works/Golf GTI days when I was younger, the car was the next logical step up from those I guess.

In contrast, the F30 330d is very similar to the E92 335d: effortless, quiet, just gets the job done without shouting about it. The torque available is great. I agree that it's difficult to get going (the 335d was the same), and when on WOT, the diesel obviously runs out, while the 135i keeps on building and building; but for the majority of normal driving, I find the 330d a much better drive, with more accessible power, unless you're wanting to drive like an idiot (which I found happened more than I'd like in the 135i!).

Economy-wise, I'm getting 34mpg in the 330d vs 22mpg in the 135i in the same town/traffic driving. On the motorway: close to 50mpg in the 330d and I got around 35mpg in the 135i, so a good improvement. I also like the different driving modes and have found I use them a lot more than I'd thought: I stay in Comfort most of the time, switching to Eco-Pro when in either heavy traffic or when cruising on the motorway; and occasionally switch to Sport mode if I get an open stretch of nice road, and/or to whip past a couple of cars should the need arise

Interior quality is much better obviously, and the car is more refined generally (though wind and tyre noise are still higher than I was expecting!). I'm also loving the new tech e.g. HK/new Nav/Adaptive Lights/HUD.

The suspension (I have Adaptive M Suspension as well) gives a much better ride in Comfort mode; and it firms up nicely in sport mode. I'm also happy with the steering (non-VSS); my 135i had hydraulic steering, which I thought I'd miss, but I find I actually like the lighter steering in Comfort mode (which is still very accurate and precise, despite being light); and it's nice to have the option to firm it up in Sport mode. There is definitely more body-roll than the smaller 135i, but on the other hand - due to the longer wheelbase at least in part - it feels more stable, planted, and controlled, particularly at speed, and I personally prefer that.

The 330d is - for me - the better car if this is going to be your only car. It's much better for longer journeys, more practical with the extra space and 4 doors (for me, compared with the E82 coupe), and gives you a more appropriate daily drive, with the option of making it sportier if you're in the mood. I loved the 135i and will miss it - my girlfriend particularly so, as it suited her better and I'm having a had time selling the 330d to her [it's our only car]! - but as we only have the only car, for our needs, the 330d suits us much more. All are exceptional cars though - M135i even more so than the 135i obviously - just for different needs
As above, I do have the 5er for our longer trips, but do totally agree with your rationale. You and John do seem to be saying the same as me i.e. the 330d does sit as one of the most perfect performance GTs

I also hear the M135i is far more refined than the 135i. In fact in comfort the exhaust is refined on cruise and gentle acceleration. Only in sport mode does it really make a noise. So more of a jackle and Hyde car...

Quote:
Originally Posted by F30AM View Post
Excellent write-up TMP. Lots of effort. A great read.
Thanks mate
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