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      11-01-2012, 05:58 PM   #1
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328i Test Drive

Well thank you to Elms BMW in Bedford, I got to drive a 328i M Sport 8AT

Reason: Well I have a 330D M Sport on order, but was worried about the auto gearbox thing......history of 15 manuals mean that I feel like something is missing if I'm not swapping cogs and heel and toeing

Way back when the F30 was launched, I did consider the 328 initially after the 320D didn't do it for me. By the time I came round to seriously sitting down to buy, I kind of migrated to the 330D long before even getting the chance to drive one. I thought it would be the best match, good power coupled with outstanding economy, anyway the rest is history and I ordered a 330D obviously in auto format as there is no manual version.

This moving away from manual has been playing on my mind, so my BMW dealer offered a test drive in the 328i. They didn't have a manual, but agreed it would be useful to get a feel for the engine.

The Drive:

I climbed into a 9 mile old red 328i M Sport with 19" M403's (good this, because I had only driven an 18" M Sport previously, and that was a touring to boot), reset the trip computer, adjusted my driving position and set off.

I was a little alarmed after about a mile of driving to see the average fuel consumption at 14.3mpg (OK car was cold, but I was only pootling along )

First impression....the engine is smooth, is willing even at low revs and very quiet. Quite impressive from a 2liter 4 pot.

Immediately I went for a little cruise down a dual carriegeway, 70mph ish eco, getting the car to warm up. As with other F30's wind noise is quite apparent, tyre noise seemed no worse than the 18" M Sport F31 I drove a few weeks ago, which is good. Whilst on wheels, I didn't feel any deterioration in ride quality due to the larger 19's even when I got it on some poor quality tarmac. Great news as I have 19's optioned on mine!! Fired up my decibel app and it registered higher than on my my Merc C class. Only 2 decibels, and not a scientific device or test but does confirm that the F30 is a little louder than my C.

Turned onto another dual carriageway and got a chance to stretch the 328's legs. Sport mode on, floored it. Engine is smooth and willing right from the off........but..........it is almost too smooth........soul less. There is no powerband that you expect from turbo charged engines, just a smooth stream of push, which makes it feel slower than it is. Don't get me wrong it is quick, but IMO it is an engine best suited to a luxury or modern version than an M Sport, it just isn't sporty. Even on wet roads I never felt like it was going to bite me. Couple that smooth engine to the ultra smooth ZF 8AT and it just feels a little boring, not even a rorty exhaust note in earshot to spice things up

On a plus side the lighter engine does make it feel more nimble than the 30D engined car, and flicking through roundabouts showed how planted this car is.

For those interested in economy, it is not looking good on that front. Yes during the 35 mile drive I did cane it, but I also tried some smooth eco style driving. Overall result was 32.9mpg. Same type of test drive in the 330D gave me late 40's, and I caned the 330D more This is way better than the low 20's I got in my 2 litre Turbo Subaru Sti, so I guess impressive for a Turbo Petrol?

Auto SS seems more intrusive on this engine than the diesels.

Would I swap my order of a 330D in favour of the 328i?

No chance.........but I have to say I like the gruffness of a performance engine, turbo lag followed by a big hit of torque, and the 330D gives that in spades. The two cars are miles apart in how they do what they do, and the 330D does it the way I like it.....and going against convention would say that the diesel feels more sporty, more in tune with the M Sport package than a turbo charged petrol. Wow! can't believe I just said that.

This makes me wonder about the 335i? Lots have said there is not a great deal of difference between the 328 and the 335. That being the case I am thinking the 330D is the very best of the F30 range right now.....a 340D would certainly gaurentee that.

Lastly, just the time behind the wheel of an F30 MSport has yet again impressed me, it is such a well sorted machine. And my doubts about the auto? almost completely faded away, I am getting to love this gearbox, it is so un auto like, an who wouldn't love 8 gears?

And really lastly....is there a colour the M Sport doesn't look good in? Looks WOW in red too
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      11-01-2012, 06:41 PM   #2
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Great review NISFAN. Seems the 328i has fell victim to "linear power delivery" yet again. Seems the diesels are pick of the bunch at the moment.

Even the 320d I had for a couple of days the other week was very pokey when stamping on the throttle (although didnt have the legs when revving it compared to my 330d). It actually felt a quick car for a few seconds - all due to the power delivery and torque. I can only imagine the F30 330d is awesome.
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      11-01-2012, 07:03 PM   #3
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Its great you put your mind at rest, IMO the F30 330D is in a league of its own and the 8 speed sports gear box well... that decades ahead of its time.

PS Great Review...!
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      11-02-2012, 01:49 AM   #4
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Fantastic review!
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      11-02-2012, 01:49 AM   #5
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Made me regret ordering the 320d even more
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      11-02-2012, 02:18 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Estoril1984 View Post
Made me regret ordering the 320d even more
Too late to change?
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      11-02-2012, 02:33 AM   #7
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Great review Nisfan- as an owner of a 328i i can agree with your view of the engine- still taking it easy with mine however there is a definite lack of drama when you stick your foot down.....but when you check your speed you are travelling rather quicker than you thought.
I picked the petrol over the diesel for refinement so can't really complain too loudly when it actually is.

Lets face any engine in this car is going to feel good- it'll come down to preference in the end
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      11-02-2012, 04:56 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mungogrubb View Post
Great review Nisfan- as an owner of a 328i i can agree with your view of the engine- still taking it easy with mine however there is a definite lack of drama when you stick your foot down.....but when you check your speed you are travelling rather quicker than you thought.
I picked the petrol over the diesel for refinement so can't really complain too loudly when it actually is.

Lets face any engine in this car is going to feel good- it'll come down to preference in the end
If refinement is high on your list, then you have definitely chosen the right engine, it is super smooth
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      11-02-2012, 05:03 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Estoril1984 View Post
Made me regret ordering the 320d even more
It is a shame BMW haven't made a 323D using the 204hp 123D engine. That would have been a cracking combo in the F30. Would have matched a 328i in the cut and thrust, but still returned great economy. Obviously wouldn't have been as smooth as the Petrol.

But all is not lost, perhaps the M Performance upgrade will be just the thing?
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      11-02-2012, 05:12 AM   #10
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Great write-up NISFAN and always interesting to hear what others make of the 328i. Like Mungogrubb, I plumped for the petrol mainly from a refinement perspective and because having been driving mainly diesels for the last 5 years I fancied a change. The 328i certainly ticks that box, first time I drove it through town on a summer's day with the window down I was struck by how quietly I was gliding along, compared to years of hearing diesels chattering away in the background I couldn't really hear this engine at all.

As for the power delivery I think you've hit the mark there. It's very quick but very linear in a 'ho hum' sort of way. I had a Soarer with the 2.5 VVti turbo engine that was very similar, hit the gas and you just got steady strong acceleration but with little 'character', no evil grin from the power-plant saying "Here ya go matey" like a big turbo diesel dishes up. Not saying that makes the car any less entertaining, both the 328i and the 330d will go from yawn to very silly speeds faster than most stuff on the roads which is where all the other characteristics that define the F30 come into play much more.

Fuel economy is an interesting one as we've mentioned before. My first few tank-fulls saw around 35-36mpg and that included keeping the revs down for the first 1200m, way off the claimed 44mpg for the combined cycle (not that I think that would ever be achievable). However, as I'm approaching 6K miles I'm now getting nearer 39mpg and that still includes having fun at regular intervals plus there's the added bonus of knowing I can get 50mpg on a long motorway run. Can't get near the achievements of the 330d, but not too shabby for such a capable petrol engine. Worth remembering also that while the petrol car's mpg is worse, there are many other factors influencing overall cost, not least the higher initial cost of the diesel, so maybe not quite as bad as it sounds.

In all honesty the 328i is a victim of the 330d (much like the 335i is, well in the UK at least) not because it's inherently bad in any way it's just that the 330d is so good by comparison. Around launch time of the F30 most reviews were very positive about the 328i with reviewers applauding BMW for being able to get so much out of the new engine compared to its three litre predecessor. Many said they were amazed at just how well the 2 litre performs and how quick it is being a mere 4-pot (with reports of it being dyno'd showing 240bhp (at the wheels) and doing the 0-60 dash in only 5.7s).

Would I swap my 328i for an equivalent 330d now? Well who wouldn't want a faster car that's also more economical Do I regret buying the 328i? Well again that's only because the 330d is now available and as is often the case with men and cars, something better comes along and your hormones start shouting "You need that buddy!" In all seriousness though, every time I'm out (without SWMBO on board!) on the country lanes round here, the 328i brings a smile to my face.

I'd agree, the 330d is definitely the king right now, in fact I'm not even sure a 335d would be much of an improvement other than for bragging rights. But if you do find yourself behind the wheel of a 328i then don't be too disappointed, it's still one helluva car
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      11-02-2012, 06:04 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RobUK View Post
.........

In all honesty the 328i is a victim of the 330d (much like the 335i is, well in the UK at least) not because it's inherently bad in any way it's just that the 330d is so good by comparison. Around launch time of the F30 most reviews were very positive about the 328i with reviewers applauding BMW for being able to get so much out of the new engine compared to its three litre predecessor. Many said they were amazed at just how well the 2 litre performs and how quick it is being a mere 4-pot (with reports of it being dyno'd showing 240bhp (at the wheels) and doing the 0-60 dash in only 5.7s).

............
Absolutely right here, the 328i is a great car, and to be fair still will have a big following for those that prefer the smooth option. I am amazed at how it pulls cleanly from even low revs, no hiccup, no power delay, no drama. No doubt it is quicker than most metal on the roads. The low rev power delivery is very evident when you are cruising in 8th and you have 2000rpm on the dial, it accelerates cleanly without having to downshift (astonishing from a 4 pot 2l). Actually in this area it is probably even better than the 330D. The 330D at the same speed would be a good 4-500rpm down in revs and does need a downchange to perk it up.

I compared it to my Subaru Sti that I had a few years ago, as that was also a 2.0litre turbo petrol, and similar weight to an F30 I suppose. There is absolutely no comparison at all, the Subaru had a definite 'powerband' and as it wasn't torque limited, felt like it had more character through the rev range. It did pull much harder but it was the 305hp 306ft.lb Prodrive version. The Subaru struggled to return 24mpg, and would require a change down to accelerate from a cruise on the motorway
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      11-02-2012, 06:08 AM   #12
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Dont forget there is one area where the 328i will ALWAYS have a slight advantage. It is lighter - so I guess more nimbler through the twisty's .
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      11-02-2012, 06:21 AM   #13
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Pretty much my thoughts on the 328i I have on loan ( now covered 1400 miles) soulless and slightly Gutless would be my take. Still we have the 330D to look forward too. Thats a tool
PS) the 328i will still be a great car for many who look for a "Different Drive".
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      11-02-2012, 06:25 AM   #14
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Wink

Quote:
Originally Posted by Estoril1984 View Post
Made me regret ordering the 320d even more
Don't worry I drove one the other day and in every day use it's great car, and does go when booted.
+brilliant economy when you want it.
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      11-02-2012, 06:43 AM   #15
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When I want a "Different Drive" I roll out the Fazer. Good for 0-60 in 3s, now any F30/31 is gutless by comparison 328i's and 330d's included

(PS - Just not in the rain thanks)
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      11-02-2012, 07:42 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NISFAN View Post
Engine is smooth and willing right from the off........but..........it is almost too smooth........soul less. There is no powerband that you expect from turbo charged engines, just a smooth stream of push, which makes it feel slower than it is. Don't get me wrong it is quick, but IMO it is an engine best suited to a luxury or modern version than an M Sport, it just isn't sporty.
This was precisely my experience with the 335i and people think I'm mad
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      11-02-2012, 05:58 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RobUK View Post
Great write-up NISFAN and always interesting to hear what others make of the 328i. Like Mungogrubb, I plumped for the petrol mainly from a refinement perspective and because having been driving mainly diesels for the last 5 years I fancied a change. The 328i certainly ticks that box, first time I drove it through town on a summer's day with the window down I was struck by how quietly I was gliding along, compared to years of hearing diesels chattering away in the background I couldn't really hear this engine at all.

As for the power delivery I think you've hit the mark there. It's very quick but very linear in a 'ho hum' sort of way. I had a Soarer with the 2.5 VVti turbo engine that was very similar, hit the gas and you just got steady strong acceleration but with little 'character', no evil grin from the power-plant saying "Here ya go matey" like a big turbo diesel dishes up. Not saying that makes the car any less entertaining, both the 328i and the 330d will go from yawn to very silly speeds faster than most stuff on the roads which is where all the other characteristics that define the F30 come into play much more.

Fuel economy is an interesting one as we've mentioned before. My first few tank-fulls saw around 35-36mpg and that included keeping the revs down for the first 1200m, way off the claimed 44mpg for the combined cycle (not that I think that would ever be achievable). However, as I'm approaching 6K miles I'm now getting nearer 39mpg and that still includes having fun at regular intervals plus there's the added bonus of knowing I can get 50mpg on a long motorway run. Can't get near the achievements of the 330d, but not too shabby for such a capable petrol engine. Worth remembering also that while the petrol car's mpg is worse, there are many other factors influencing overall cost, not least the higher initial cost of the diesel, so maybe not quite as bad as it sounds.

In all honesty the 328i is a victim of the 330d (much like the 335i is, well in the UK at least) not because it's inherently bad in any way it's just that the 330d is so good by comparison. Around launch time of the F30 most reviews were very positive about the 328i with reviewers applauding BMW for being able to get so much out of the new engine compared to its three litre predecessor. Many said they were amazed at just how well the 2 litre performs and how quick it is being a mere 4-pot (with reports of it being dyno'd showing 240bhp (at the wheels) and doing the 0-60 dash in only 5.7s).

Would I swap my 328i for an equivalent 330d now? Well who wouldn't want a faster car that's also more economical Do I regret buying the 328i? Well again that's only because the 330d is now available and as is often the case with men and cars, something better comes along and your hormones start shouting "You need that buddy!" In all seriousness though, every time I'm out (without SWMBO on board!) on the country lanes round here, the 328i brings a smile to my face.

I'd agree, the 330d is definitely the king right now, in fact I'm not even sure a 335d would be much of an improvement other than for bragging rights. But if you do find yourself behind the wheel of a 328i then don't be too disappointed, it's still one helluva car
A very honest take on 328i ownership..Well said Rob!
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      11-03-2012, 02:44 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RobUK View Post
Great write-up NISFAN and always interesting to hear what others make of the 328i. Like Mungogrubb, I plumped for the petrol mainly from a refinement perspective and because having been driving mainly diesels for the last 5 years I fancied a change. The 328i certainly ticks that box, first time I drove it through town on a summer's day with the window down I was struck by how quietly I was gliding along, compared to years of hearing diesels chattering away in the background I couldn't really hear this engine at all.

As for the power delivery I think you've hit the mark there. It's very quick but very linear in a 'ho hum' sort of way. I had a Soarer with the 2.5 VVti turbo engine that was very similar, hit the gas and you just got steady strong acceleration but with little 'character', no evil grin from the power-plant saying "Here ya go matey" like a big turbo diesel dishes up. Not saying that makes the car any less entertaining, both the 328i and the 330d will go from yawn to very silly speeds faster than most stuff on the roads which is where all the other characteristics that define the F30 come into play much more.

Fuel economy is an interesting one as we've mentioned before. My first few tank-fulls saw around 35-36mpg and that included keeping the revs down for the first 1200m, way off the claimed 44mpg for the combined cycle (not that I think that would ever be achievable). However, as I'm approaching 6K miles I'm now getting nearer 39mpg and that still includes having fun at regular intervals plus there's the added bonus of knowing I can get 50mpg on a long motorway run. Can't get near the achievements of the 330d, but not too shabby for such a capable petrol engine. Worth remembering also that while the petrol car's mpg is worse, there are many other factors influencing overall cost, not least the higher initial cost of the diesel, so maybe not quite as bad as it sounds.

In all honesty the 328i is a victim of the 330d (much like the 335i is, well in the UK at least) not because it's inherently bad in any way it's just that the 330d is so good by comparison. Around launch time of the F30 most reviews were very positive about the 328i with reviewers applauding BMW for being able to get so much out of the new engine compared to its three litre predecessor. Many said they were amazed at just how well the 2 litre performs and how quick it is being a mere 4-pot (with reports of it being dyno'd showing 240bhp (at the wheels) and doing the 0-60 dash in only 5.7s).

Would I swap my 328i for an equivalent 330d now? Well who wouldn't want a faster car that's also more economical Do I regret buying the 328i? Well again that's only because the 330d is now available and as is often the case with men and cars, something better comes along and your hormones start shouting "You need that buddy!" In all seriousness though, every time I'm out (without SWMBO on board!) on the country lanes round here, the 328i brings a smile to my face.

I'd agree, the 330d is definitely the king right now, in fact I'm not even sure a 335d would be much of an improvement other than for bragging rights. But if you do find yourself behind the wheel of a 328i then don't be too disappointed, it's still one helluva car
Great reply Rob in defence of the 328i, for the record yesterday I did two 45 mile runs in the 328i mixed driving and it returned 40MPG, it has now covered 1350miles.
I was impressed. I think it's "growing on me", the price of diesel here now is 1:41 /per litre , where petrol is 1:33.7.
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      11-03-2012, 02:56 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Deyvy
Quote:
Originally Posted by Estoril1984 View Post
Made me regret ordering the 320d even more
Too late to change?
I'm guessing yes. The car is expected at the dealers some time next week. I suppose there no harm in asking, although I don't know if I can face the embarrassment! I could always post 320d in the "for sale" forum for anyone that wants to beat the queues lol !!
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      11-03-2012, 05:00 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Estoril1984
Quote:
Originally Posted by Deyvy
Quote:
Originally Posted by Estoril1984 View Post
Made me regret ordering the 320d even more
Too late to change?
I'm guessing yes. The car is expected at the dealers some time next week. I suppose there no harm in asking, although I don't know if I can face the embarrassment! I could always post 320d in the "for sale" forum for anyone that wants to beat the queues lol !!
I wouldn't worry mate, I'm sure you,ll still love the 320d when it arrives. By all accounts it's performance is still very respectable.

I m still undecided between 320i and 328. Need to drive them back to back really.

Someone mentioned further up about the m performance upgrade which I guess would help to bridge any perceived gap in performance, does anyone have any idea if a similar upgrade would be available for the 320i?

Excellent review by the way Nisfan one of the best I've read. Better than most of the motoring press ....

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      11-03-2012, 07:05 AM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Estoril1984 View Post
I'm guessing yes. The car is expected at the dealers some time next week. I suppose there no harm in asking, although I don't know if I can face the embarrassment! I could always post 320d in the "for sale" forum for anyone that wants to beat the queues lol !!
My first F30 drive was in a 320d Sport Line (Auto) and I was well impressed. It pulled strongly from low down and it really was easy to make un-fussed and pretty brisk progress. You certainly won't feel like you're being left behind by the pack, it's a very very good car. If you need re-convincing just what a good choice you made, check out the CarBuyer review of it on YouTube

Add to that, by not going for the 330d you'll have a huge wedge left over that you can spend on gadgets for the house, nights out with the lads, more gadgets, maybe some tweaks for the car, more beer and if there's anything left over then maybe a little something for your significant other
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      11-03-2012, 07:26 AM   #22
Estoril1984
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England
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Drives: F31 320d MSport
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Made me chuckle. Cheers Rob.
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Estoril 11 F31 Msport & Mineral White M235i M Performance with MPE
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