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      10-09-2012, 09:42 AM   #1
mikehunt
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My 330d review

I've had 6 weeks now with my 330d and after breaking it in almost as advised I'm now at the point where I think I have a full picture what it's like to deal with day to day.

I came from a 2007 320d SE (non-LCI) and this time around went for the 330d SE. I've had a Golf GTI in the past and whilst it was great to drive hard, where it spent 99% of the time driving on motorways or going A-B I just found it too harsh. I found the ride in 320d to be a great balance, taught enough control when weight was transferring through corners, whilst soaking up the bumps fairly well. I probably wouldn't be saying the same if I lived in the sticks and had loads of B roads to play with, but I don't and rarely get to have a fun flowing back road drive.

So to the 330d SE. Even though it's got the slightly larger wheels, the 17s with 225/255 mixed tyres, it rides far better, far far better. That said, you can feel that the chassis is a little stiffer and the rear suspension controls the weight better through the corners. The front is softer, but surprisingly I can't massively notice the extra weight of the larger lump under the bonnet, but that said there seems to be more suspension travel when making sharp turns. I did toil over the variable suspension, but in the end decided that I'd make so little use of the extra potential that I didn't really need. Would make a nice toy mind.

The mechanical steering on the E90 was beautifully judged when pressing on, but I did find it a little too weighty at lower speed and the girlfriend struggled with it it. As a result it was prone to tram-lining and I felt that the car was in charge of her at times. Whilst there is definitely less feel as a result of the electrically assistance on the F30, it is slightly quicker, whilst having a larger central dead zone. This means that whilst the car feels more nimble and direct, it is a born motorway cruiser and seems to soak up the miles with ease. Although less of a pure drivers car, it is much easier to live with day to day. It seems to carry more speed, more stably, with less rear body roll and when taking the full package into account I wouldn't consider going back. As reviewers have said, the F30 makes the E90 seem primitive in comparison.

The engine and transition are simply stunning. The first time I flawed and hit kick down was overtaking a lorry down a B road, I nearly soiled myself. Compared to a 335d coupé I've been in, it definitely felt faster, less of a thump when you change gears, but more progressive with a noticeably wider power band. In comfort mode, it takes a little while to wake up and shift down a couple, which can feel a little laggy, but this is to be expected whilst it decides had many gears to change down. But in sport, it responds much quicker and the throttle response is superb. I also find that when in sport, if I push the selector to the left it seems to make the box hang on to the ratios for longer when not accelerating, making it respond better without having to drop cogs when giving it a prod. The bonnet raises noticeably under hard acceleration, which is a side effect of the standard suspension, but I have to say that is something that tickles my inner child.
It is silky smooth most of the time when warm, but it does seem to be a little raspy around 1500 rpm and is also more gruff when cold. But hey, it is an oil burner.
I'm sure the F30 335d will be even better, but I have a feeling they won't release it until we have a new M3, because the headline figures will be too close to the current M3.

Whilst I was breaking it in gently I was getting in the region of 50-52 mpg depending how I drove and what the top speed was on the motorway. Now at 1600 miles, it seems to have settled at 47, which comes from about 70% motorway 75-80 and me slamming my foot down at every legal opportunity.
A week ago I had a long drive from Wembley back up to the Midlands and as I wasn't in a rush stuck in in Eco Pro and cruised at a leisurely pace up the motorway. With a little effort I managed to get it to return 65mpg on the trip computer! But I was driving like a granny behind a petrol tanker most of the way.

The new NAV would have been amazing, but I'm happy enough with the current Pro-Nav and couldn't wait. The media facilities are pretty good and play music from my USB stick no bother and the DAB is pretty nice. Having come from using Google Maps Navigation on my phone in the old car, I do find the Nav section to be fairly old fashioned, it's not horrendous, but I'd prefer if it dynamically zoomed the main map into turnings that I need to take. There are alternatives, with split screen and the black panel display, but that doesn't give a great user experience. Traffic alerts seem OK and I let it re-direct me if it thinks it's worth it and I've been fairly happy so far. Most of the connected drive services and apps are useless if you have a smartphone. But using the phone app to lock it, locate it and flash the light is nice. Sending destinations to the car from Google maps works brilliantly and seamlessly.

The Harmon Kardon stereo is the daddy. I always go for the upgraded stereo, but this one takes the cake, it sounds better than what a lot of people will have in their homes. DVDs look and sound great on that screen.

Minor niggles:
  • The fuel tank is 4 litres smaller than the E90, but I guess they had to save the weight somewhere
  • There is no sun glasses box to the right of the steering wheel under the dash and no dedicated place for the shades. WHY!
  • There isn't the rechargeable torch in the dash any more
  • I would have liked to be able to skip forwards within the same track on MP3s. Although I did occasionally find issues doing that with VBR files
  • No dynamic zooming of turnings in the NAV
  • Had to take it back to the garage on the Monday because it kept complaining of an engine fault that didn't exist and turned out to be a loose connector
  • There is a squeak under light breaking at low speed that is being investigated next week

Would I buy one again, f**k yeah!

That is all.

Last edited by mikehunt; 10-09-2012 at 05:41 PM.
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      10-09-2012, 10:12 AM   #2
Deyvy
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YES! Thank you for the write up.

Got a few pics for those of us who are still waiting for their 330D?
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      10-09-2012, 10:36 AM   #3
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Great write-up and always nice to know someone is having as much fun as me and is using less fuel into the bargain!!

If I was in the market now (instead of last March) then I'd be seriously considering the 330d because for the spec I went for in the end it would only have been about £1K dearer, as it was my choice was between the 320d and the 328i so I plumped for the latter. I did manage 50.9mpg on a fairly leisurely 300m motorway run, but probably can't improve on that too much.

I'm happy with the 'old' pro nav as well but I get what you mean about zoomed in views of turnings, something I had in a Lexus seven or eight years ago. I have the HUD option and while it helps a little by putting the 'progress bar' right in front of you, it could still be improved on.

Oh and I know why they don't have a place to put your sunglasses, it's so they can sell you a little piece of elasticated netting you slip over the sun visor for some ridiculous price
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      10-09-2012, 10:49 AM   #4
JOHNBMWM5
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I think extended storage is required for the small cubby next to the steering wheel, what great economy these 330d are giving, great revew enjoy the car.
My touring 330D M Sport still not in build yet, can not wait till it arrives.
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      10-09-2012, 11:42 AM   #5
PF64
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Excellent review thanks.

Waiting is becoming more agonising every day.
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      10-09-2012, 04:07 PM   #6
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Thanks for the review Mike..nice one.

My F30 330d MSport is on order and I have been given a build week of 48! Cant wait!

Does anyone know the lag time between Build and Delivery to Dealer?!!

Also, I know the guys in the US can monitor the car's build progress from start to finish on-line with the car's VIN! Is there anyway we can do that here in the UK and if not WHY the hell not!!

Cheers.
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      10-09-2012, 08:14 PM   #7
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It's about 3 weeks from build to dealer
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      10-10-2012, 10:48 AM   #8
F30FAN
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Thanks Maestro.. thats great news! Looks like an early Christmas Presy! I just hope I get the new Pro Sat Nav.. fingers crossed.
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