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      12-26-2012, 11:44 AM   #1
Seagull
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1000 km M-Sport 335i Review

This is a very initial review from someone with a bit of BMW ownership background. Here's what I've moved through:
  • Orient Blue 330i e46 manual with sport package ( it had the light steering initially, but BMW agreed to swap the steering rack for a stiffer one for free )
  • to the Sparkling Graphite e90 330i manual with sport package
  • to the Space Grey e90 335XI manual with sport package
  • to my EBII 335i sport auto, Premium Package, M-Sport Brakes, Adaptive M Suspension, 19” wheels

My personal background is that I don’t race or street race and don’t consider myself an enthusiast. I don’t drive “too” aggressively and don’t speed too much more than the next guy. BUT, that being said, I do get up to speed quicker than the average driver and I do brake later than most, and I don’t slow down while turning if I can help it. I certainly push the car on on-ramps and I love the sound of the car when I downshift into second close to redline, on an off ramp. Also, I've taken my e46 Bimmer to the track twice, and learned a lot while making my share of mistakes, including doing a 360 on the track. I do enjoy the heavy steering and a certain level of stiff suspension. My thought on that was that you have to know what you are doing, and know that you are doing it. Hence the heavy steering. And that sneezing in the car shouldn't cause you to fly off the road. I’m also the type of guy who literally will take the long way home if I leave work late. I’d take a 30-40 minute cruise on the highway or old farm road to calm my mind and put a smile on my face.

So, take this review from this point of view and keep it in mind while reading.

Before ordering my car to spec, I attended the comparison event ( by BMW ), and while truthfully, I was not on the market for anything else but a BMW ( see my history so - I'm hooked ) I did manage to push the M-Sport 335xi to a good level. I was worried about the lighter steering and the suspension. After the event, as I drove home in my e90, I thought to myself, well the steering is indeed light and the suspension soft, but was it still heavy enough or stiff enough for my purposes? The fuel economy was to my liking too, so that was starting to sway me.

Why choose M-Sport? Why choose EBII? When I got my first BMW, it was unique and sporty/exciting. After my last e90, I found everyone was driving one and it was as common as corrola. Imagine being at a stop light where there are literally 6 e90’s around me of varying levels and most of them were Space Grey. Driven by soccer moms, elderly and every spectrum of the population, their cars make my e90 lose its “special” quality. For the most part, every e90 looked the same regardless of trim level, engine size or options. Now along comes the f30, which is all about differentiation in its trims and the M-Sport which is even more of a differentiator. In fact you have to pay extra for the differentiator, and certain other options are only available off the M-Sport. The sense of special or uniqueness seems to be returning to the 3.... but don’t get me wrong, I don’t necessarily want to stand out too much, but I don’t want disappear either.

So after only 1000 km’s here’s my review. Take note as this is on 18” WS70’s and NOT the 19” summers. I wanted to give this review at this time before I “forget” the feeling of the e90. So here its, a bit early maybe, and not that thorough.... I have driven this car as a daily city driver for a work week ( not more than 80 km/hr areas ), weekend highway trips ( 120 km/hr ) and long distance drives of 5+ hrs ( 135 km/hr ).

Handling/Steering. I drive mostly in comfort mode, and in that, its soft at parking speeds and stiff the way I like it at highway speeds. I would actually still prefer the stiffer steering at lower speeds, but I can live with the low speed light steering wheel. The steering is more removed, as is the pedal feel. I noticed the weight and feel before on the other models and loved it, and now its more muted. I can still feel all the bumps but they are dampened somehow. The steering still feels sharp and puts a smile on my face, but it will probably be sharper when I get the summer shoes on in the spring. As I write this, I have not yet pushed the handling to any extremes or to where I was on the XI. In sport mode, I do think that the handling is stiff enough for my purposes. Again it is lighter, but its not light. It also makes it a bit easier to weave in traffic. It makes it easier to point, when you want to point and shoot. In the e90, you definitely had to know that you wanted to point, and then you pointed.

Winter Handling. This is a RWD, and.... its fine. I’m up in –10 C to –20 C weather, it is fine. Snow, ice, slush and it was fine. The difference from my old XI is not much at all. Certainly nothing to make me think twice. I think where I would have more confidence with an XI would be if I were moving up a steep hill with no momentum assisting me. Another condition I can think of might be when the road conditions are very unpredictable or variable. And likely getting out of deep stuff would be easier too. I grew up in this type of winter, so I know how to drive in it with 2 wheels. You have drive a bit cautious, aware, and ease into things. I think with the XI you could be a bit careless or carefree. The RWD traction control is also very smooth ( or maybe its the traction control and sport auto? ). I remember when the traction control would kick in on the e90. I would definitely feel it. On the f30, its not as noticeable. It seems like a smoother engagement to me.

Ride. First off, the f30 RWD vs the f30 XI ride height is definitely noticeable. I noticed it right away when I got into the car, and so did my friend who also attended the comparison drive. I didn’t think I would notice the difference when getting in and out of the car or visually, at the front wheel gap, but I can. The ride is soft! Its probably due to my winters and the Adaptive Suspension, but it is soft. And when I say soft, I mean softer than the e90. Again, like the handling, I have not yet pushed the car to the same level as the old e90 so I’m not sure yet on the amount of body roll. During the comparison drive, it seemed acceptable for my needs. It felt the best of the competition for me. But compared to the e90, it is softer. Everyone knows it here. I think the issue for people is, is it too soft or is it good enough? Anyone who is asking “is it too soft for me?” has to just drive one. No one can tell you what that feeling means to you.

As everyone says, the car feels bigger. It might be the sweep of the hood creating the illusion of size, but it also feels like the turning circle is smaller. Whatever it really is, its a bit of a mind trick.

For both handling and ride, I need to revisit this in the summer.... So this review is not really representative. Also, I do hope to track this one 2-3 times a year and a take classes for once.

Navigation and iDrive and other tech. I’ve never had it before, but wow, I like it. I know tech changes and the rule is don’t get stuck on tech as it moves too fast, but its pretty cool to be able to adjust and monitor so much. For the most part its intuitive. The backup camera is pretty nifty too. The lines are pretty accurate. But remember, the backup camera is a backup. There’s no excuse for not backing up the right way and actually looking! The pre-sets are pretty cool, but for the life of me, I can’t think of what to use them all for! I normally just go through the quick buttons by the dial. The voice recognition needs help from nuance or something. Its a bit clunky. I do like the nav but please note that the only nav I’ve ever had was my iPhone. Too bad there’s no real time traffic factored in. I keep mine in “airplane” view. Cruise control is more digital from the e90 but its basically the same set up though.

Steering Wheel Vibration. I don’t have any unless I’m tapping the wheel with my thumb listening to Mark Knight . My car is a 2012 Nov build. I’m running 18” CSL reps with Blizzak WS70’s. Knock on wood. NOTHING yet. And yes, I let go at 130 km/hr to test this and the tracking.

Automatic Transmission. Coming from the manual.... its no comparison. So I shouldn’t compare. As someone else said, and had therefore set my expectations, I should not think of it as a replacement for the manual. It can’t do that. There’s no feel or skill in co-ordination required, or at least not as much. So, thinking of it as different beast, I think its pretty great. I’ve only rev’d it above 5000rpm for short stints and down shifted a few times, but it seems to do exactly what I want it to do. The only downside in all of this is it is harder to tell what gear the car is in ( obviously without looking at the dash ) or what rpm you are at ( again without looking at the dash ). So although it does what you want it to do, its hard to tell what its doing. Maybe this is a learned skill however, and my ears have to become more sensitive. I was not an amazing shifter for MT, so the AT is definitely faster than I am at shifting. For what it is, I think its awesome. I have not driven DCT.

Interior. The interior definitely looks better while still holding on to some of the “Spartan” feel of its heritage. Its just a more modern level of Spartan. Its not too busy and it looks fairly well integrated. I like it. But coming from an e90, the materials on the f30 are not as nice. The dash is harder, making it seem more cheap and things like the window controls and the holy sh!t grips feel hard/cheap as well. As per usual, I love the sport seats. It just can’t be beat! Its not too hard or soft or intrusive for me. Its perfect. This has got to be one of the main reasons to get the sport package and is as important as the steering and handling aspects.

Steering Wheel. M-Sport. Like it! It looks very weird at first glance, but the wheel is a good thickness, and I did notice the other lines had wheels that were thinner and harder which I didn’t like and wasn’t use to. My only worry is wear and tear on it. I keep my fingernails very short but wonder how easily it could be score by mistkae. It looks high tech and fancy/elegant at the same time.

Visual appearance. This is a personal taste and of course I like it. I walk away with that single glance back, like trying to get my last peek a her before we meet again etc... you all know what I’m talking about ;-). The M-Sport EBII turns its share of heads from BMW and non BMW drivers alike. Objectively there’s no downside except for maybe the fog light delete. Truthfully, in all my years, I used them once or twice for actual purposes. The rest of it was really just “looks”.

Other.
Steering Wheel Heater. I’ve had this before. I liked the button on the right side better. Its easier to see/find. But that space is now used for the key sensor.

ASS. I gave the ASS a chance, but now I’m not liking it. I counted that on average it shuts the car down 12 times on a one way commute to work. That means the starter is being used 12 time more! Its also annoying because of the vibration and the delay. There’s no good story from BMW about expected wear and tear on that. Oh, and ASS does not engage after 30 minutes of driving in –20 C... it knows better and keeps the car warm.

Sport Mode. I probably drive about 25% of my time in sport mode. It is fun, and this is the throttle response I was use to and miss. I will be driving 50% in this mode from now on. I’m also a lover of heavier steering.

Comfort Mode. I probably drive about 60% of my time in Comfort. When its a boring cruising from light to light, this is good and it saves gas. I’m hanging on this mode just to experiment on the gas consumption, even though I’m in break in so its not representative.

Eco Pro Mode. Wow this is really good. I ran about 160 km using about 1/8th of a tank! Maybe the tank was overfilled but that seemed really good to me. I don’t know, but the car was saying I could go about 780 km on a tank! This mode is perfect for long road trips.

Gas consumption. I’m basically using 20% less gas, and using lower grade gas to boot. This car is great. And I’m still breaking it in! Note that I’m not driving quite as hard as I would normally.

Ice warning chime and locking beep. For those of you complaining, this is a lot softer ( hmmm maybe like everything else ) compared to the e90, which was more in your face about letting you know things.

Storage. Glove compartment is small. There’s no longer any webbing on the back of the front seats for the rear passengers to store magazines etc. The door storage is better in my opinion. You can store drinks there too.

Trunk CA kick sensor. I think this is tricky and the dealer even had consistency problems when showing me. I don’t know how, but I’m getting better at it.

Exhaust. Like it, and yeah, roll down the windows when you start her up. Also, roll down the window while in a parking garage, and keep it in manual mode...

Sound System. Radio reception is poor. It doesn’t break up, but it doesn’t sound too good either. Sourcing audio from media is much cleaner and sounds good. The stock 335i hk audio beats the stock sound system on my 2010 e90.

Squeaks and rattles. None yet. I can hear the chunks of ice on the trunk rattling, and I can hear some creaking as I warm up the car from –20 C.

Other, other. If I didn't mention it, it's not much different from the e90 or doesn't mean a huge amount to me - like the heated seats or interior lighting or rear venting or...

As you can see, I do like the car a lot. There are a few minor nagging points but its good over all. Do I love it as much as my other 3’s? Final judgement will be made in the summer.

I hope this review is useful to those going from an e90 and for those with the same or less driving expectations.

If you track your car, this review is not for you. Plus you already know what you want....
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Last edited by Seagull; 12-26-2012 at 11:27 PM. Reason: Fix spellos and typos etc...
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      12-26-2012, 12:10 PM   #2
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Great review and thanks for the detailed info! Enjoy the new ride and stay warm!
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      12-26-2012, 12:59 PM   #3
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Great review, I really enjoyed reading your thoughts. Thanks!
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      12-26-2012, 02:49 PM   #4
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Excellent review. The F30 335i M-Sport is the 4th Bimmer for me but I jumped from an E46. I did have an E90 loaner for a few weeks, but it was a total stripper.

It was interesting to read your perspective on that versus the F30.
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      12-26-2012, 06:18 PM   #5
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2013 f30 335i  [5.00]
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Another one (M/T loyalist) bites the (ZF8 A/T) dust!


I'm next. I ordered my next car with auto, for the very first time.


Congrats on the gorgeous car. Nice write up.
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      12-26-2012, 07:19 PM   #6
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Thank you for your very interesting comments on your new 335i M Sport !

As for your remarks on the "ride", perhaps one of the reasons that your new 335i seems to ride softer than your previous E90-335 Xi is the tires ? The latest generation of run flats are more forgiving of pavement irregularities than the previous one.

You also referred to your perception that the turning radius is tighter with your RWD 335i than with your previous 335 Xi. It is indeed; the turning radius is about 0.7m (or 2 ft.) less than the 335 Xi. This is a noticeable difference, especially when you attempt U turns or parking manoeuvres. It is one of several reasons why I too prefer RWD ( the lower ride height being another reason).

As for the visual appearance of the F30-335i M Sport, I too find myself when walking away from it, turning to look back at my car in admiration of its styling. I rather think it's the best looking 3 Series since the E46/ZHP Ci.
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      12-26-2012, 10:52 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DerekS View Post
Thank you for your very interesting comments on your new 335i M Sport !

As for your remarks on the "ride", perhaps one of the reasons that your new 335i seems to ride softer than your previous E90-335 Xi is the tires ? The latest generation of run flats are more forgiving of pavement irregularities than the previous one.
You're probably right about the ride. Also, right now, I'm on my winters.

Quote:
Originally Posted by DerekS View Post
As for the visual appearance of the F30-335i M Sport, I too find myself when walking away from it, turning to look back at my car in admiration of its styling. I rather think it's the best looking 3 Series since the E46/ZHP Ci.
Yeah, I think the e46 is one of the hottest of the 3 series models. I still think that m3 still looks amazing.
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      12-26-2012, 11:30 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shicobico View Post
Another one (M/T loyalist) bites the (ZF8 A/T) dust!


I'm next. I ordered my next car with auto, for the very first time.


Congrats on the gorgeous car. Nice write up.
Nice sig/car history!

Yeah, I do miss blipping and rev matching. But its only 10 days now. I'm sure it will grow on me.
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      12-27-2012, 01:09 PM   #9
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Winter driving update

Update for winter driving

The new snow was up to BMW center caps on the wheels. Side streets were unplowed with packed snow/ice as a base over the road. The main streets probably had 1-2 cm of packed snow, with plows clearing periodically

The good: I made it through the side streets and made it out there to the grocery store.

The bad: I was moving at a crawl, ever in danger of stopping and getting stuck. The lower openings of the M-Sport bumper were 100% jammed with snow. The kidney grills half so. My car was basically acting as a snow plow.

In this case, I would definitely feel more comfortable with XI and snow tires over RWD and snow tires.

After 30mins at the grocery store...
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      12-28-2012, 12:32 PM   #10
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If anything, just more proof that Estoril Blue looks hot under any lighting conditions!


Nooice.


(PS: What was that about you slipping again?) ))
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