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      01-04-2013, 08:11 PM   #1
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ActiveHybrid 3 Owner's Review: Thoughts after 600 miles

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Leased an AH3 (Msport, DHP, 2TB, Tech, Driver Assist I) after turning in my E92 335i coupe a few weeks ago. Had about 2 weeks when I had both cars. So I could make back to back comparisons. Here are my random thoughts.

Engine: Love the N55. It's smoother than the N54, and feels every bit as powerful. Granted I haven't pushed it yet (break-in), but I can feel the power is there. Maybe it was just mine, but my N54 was never as smooth and refined as this.

Hybrid aspects: As others have stated, BMW has done a wonderful job integrating the electric motor with the gas engine. Most of the time, the transition between electric and gas can be seen only by looking at the tach. On very rare occasions, there is a slight shudder when the N55 comes on or goes off, but most of the time it's not felt. So the aspects of ASS others complain about is almost moot in the AH3. I once drove a Lexus hybrid, and it wasn't close to being this well implemented.

The car will run on electric power alone, but requires feathering the throttle - otherwise, the engine will kick in. If you're in traffic, this is not practical. But, in parking lots and small streets, it is great. I was in a drive-thru the other day with an especially long line. Took 20 mins with the heater and heated seats on, but the gas motor never came on until I got back to the main road. Nice!

I have spent most of my time in Comfort mode and 90% city driving, and I haven't exceeded 24 mpg yet - fluctuates between 22 and 24. My N54 E92 was always between 18 and 19mpg. To be fair, I was a little more heavy footed with the E92. Fuel economy seems to be steadily improving. Let's see where it ends up.

DHP: Is fantastic! Comfort mode smooths out bumps very nicely. Sport mode makes it feel like the E92, which also had a staggered 18" setup. It's really like getting 2 cars in one! Steering feel is actually quite good in Sport. I was expecting much worse based on reviews.

Road/wind Noise: Little disappointed here, because it has the same noise levels as the E92. I thought wind noise will be less, since that car had frameless glass. But nope, it actually feels like more at times. Could me my car, since a few others have complained about this in other threads. This car has Potenza 001s, and the E92 had Michelin Pilot PS2 RFTs. Road noise feels about the same.

Stereo: I don't have HK, only the "premium" hifi. The premium hifi on this car almost matches the HK on the E92. The HK might have a bit more midrange presence, and max achievable volume w/o distortion might be higher on the HK (never reached distortion on either system - so don't know). Bass is tight and clean, but with it boosted about 3/4 of the way. I have been listening to Pandora and MOG, and sound quality on both are quite good. MOG tends to buffer more, even though my iphone 5 has good signal with LTE.

Idrive/Nav/HUD: Thumbs up here too. The new generation is nice! Traffic information is very detailed - shows up even for smaller streets. And, the guidance as you approach a turn is more detailed (both on HUD and split screen).

Interior: The Msport seats and steering wheel are the best I've experienced. Even my wife loves them. I have "leatherette", and it feels and looks just as nice as the E92 Dakota leather.
I hate the center armrest, especially the latch on it. Feels cheap when opening it.
Overall, the interior is a step up from the E90 cars. There are some cheap aspects, but an improvement nonetheless.

Issues (in order of importance):
- I have "clunk" on the drivers side front suspension when going over bumps. It's not bad enough to bother me too much, but it does get transmitted through the steering on bumpy roads. There are other threads about this - so i'm not alone here.
- Looking under the car, there looks to be cover hanging down on one side. This seems to cover some hybrid related items. Need to have the dealer check this.
- Where is my key with the blue trim? I got the "standard" key - don't know why, but don't care too much either.

I'm thorougly enjoying this car. Can't wait to start dipping into the power band. The hybrid implementation is amazing, and keeps me entertained even in traffic.

Some random comparisons with other cars in the garage.

2004 Acura TL: Is actually quieter inside than the AH3, especially wind noise. You long for the steering feel you get with the BMW. In almost 10 years of ownership, it's been rock solid for reliability - only needed routine work, and 1 O2 sensor. Interior actually seems to have better matarials in the TL. But, it rattles like a box of bolts.

1994 3000GT VR4: This car took a lot of abuse from the media for being too heavy to be a sports car. True, but I never track it - so don't care. It amazes me how ahead of its time this car was. Brutal acceleration from its 320hp V6, adaptive suspension that uses the same tech as the BMW, AWD, and still gives me 20 mpg in mostly city driving. Steering feel is crap though. Also rattles everywhere. Another rock solid, reliable car in 15+ years of ownership.
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      01-04-2013, 08:22 PM   #2
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Nice review. I went from an 04 TL to the 328i as well, but definitely feel that the 328i is slightly quieter at speed. May have been the tires I had. However, I definitely felt the interior materials were worse in the TL - especially the plastic (and of course the rattles!!)
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      01-04-2013, 09:11 PM   #3
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Great review! Thanks for sharing. Always looking forward to comparisons like these.
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      01-04-2013, 09:13 PM   #4
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The HIFI sound system is pretty solid, huh? I thought so too, was surprised...I don't regret not getting the HK.
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      01-04-2013, 10:05 PM   #5
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I think the HK sounded better than the standard especially after messing with the EQ, but the stock sound is already quite good. I would not be disappointed with either system.
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      01-04-2013, 10:12 PM   #6
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Very nice review. I pick up mine in 14 days. The wait is tough.
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      01-05-2013, 01:01 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SamS
Very nice review. I pick up mine in 14 days. The wait is tough.
You're definitely in for a treat! Glad to see the number of ActiveHybrid drivers on the rise!

Where's our AH5 counterparts? I've been snooping on the various forums and don't see many 5 series hybrid adopters.
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      01-05-2013, 08:17 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jdong View Post
You're definitely in for a treat! Glad to see the number of ActiveHybrid drivers on the rise!

Where's our AH5 counterparts? I've been snooping on the various forums and don't see many 5 series hybrid adopters.
The AH3 will get really popular if we ever see gas hit $5/gal

Yeah, I don't see many AH5 forum participants, either. One problem may be that all AH5's that I see on the lot are the Liquid Blue Metallic + funky hybrid wheels. I think that's a bit "too eco look" for the average 5-series buyer, and they simply pass it over. Almost all of the AH3's I see on the lot (and on the forums) are either Luxury, sport or M-sport line, helping them look identical to a regular F30 and not calling attention to themselves.
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      01-05-2013, 11:34 AM   #9
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Thanks for your detailed impressions, Zon. Keep us updated as you log more miles.

I am counting the weeks until my AH3 Sport arrives (late February I'm told). My wife has had both a 2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid and now a 2013 Ford C-Max Hybrid that I have logged a lot of miles on. Both vehicles are good hybrid integrations versus other brands I have had the opportunity to drive, so I will have a comparison base for gas/electric transitions and other hybrid features. I ordered an AH3 because I wanted the best of both the performance and hybrid worlds with all the best bells and whistles (HUD, advanced Nav, sport seats, i-Drive, HK, etc.).
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      01-05-2013, 12:07 PM   #10
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Our numbers are growing....

Congrats zon!! Welcome to the AH3 Club... A very rare yet unique F30 group

Thanks for the picture and please share more interior pictures when you can.

Appreciate your 1st impressions. Took my car on a week long 2000 mile trip and have a few comments to share and some responses to your initial concerns.

Hybrid Aspects

Highway Driving
During my holiday we drove through the WV mountains with long periods on inclines and descents. The size of the LION pack is designed to have the useable portion deplete often and replenish quickly from available brake regeneration to aid in increasing fuel economy. At 70+ speeds my economy averaged 33 MPG with long passages when the car was in coast/sail mode and/or electric drive.

Traffic Driving
There were times where traffic slowed to 30-35 MPH when the snow was falling heavily and during those passages in ECO Pro mode the battery moved the car forward exclusively while provided A/C for the windshield defrost. As others have mentioned, in stopped traffic/crawling it felt good to not use a single drop of gas during those moments.

Road and Wind Noise

Road
I was torn between the Luxury and Sport packages because I wanted the DHP. However, for this car I wanted a 'baby 5 series feel' and went with the Luxury line. The AH3 Luxury line comes with the Pirelli Cinturato P7 AS tires specifically designed for low rolling resistance and low noise. During my road trip passengers commented on how quiet the car was and the smoothness of the ride.

The tires help in reducing road noise in the cabin but I miss the grip and handling you get with a larger tire . I'm shopping for a second summer performance wheel and tire set with Dunlops. Like the look here but not sure of the size. Based on your comments, I may go with the Bridgestone Potenza 001s.

Wind
Take some audio samples and bring this to the attention of your dealer. I have seen site threads of a fix. I have experienced zero wind issues in 3000 miles and my road trip served as a 'shake down' for anything requiring dealer service.

HK Audio System
I had an E92 service loaner several years ago with the HK system and made sure I had it on my new F30. The HK system is very very powerful (in a smooth way) and Logic 7 provides a theatre-like quality where it never sounds strained or unbalanced. The subwoofers provide substantial bass and I did not realize they are in the floorboards underneath the driver and passenger seats (very smart). I think it provides great value-for-money compared to similar systems.

Concerns
I have the full Technology Package with BMW Apps yet there is no release date for the iPhone 5 Smart Adapter. BMW should work harder to get these released sooner or provide them at no charge. Also, BMW Apps and BMW Remote are feeling like more of a 'project' than a full implementation. If Hyundai with their Blue Link offering is ready-for-primetime. BMW should at least match it!

Programmability
In 2013, I do not think it should be difficult to have your car configured the way you wish at delivery:
  • Auto Fold Mirrors at Start/Shutdown
  • Eco Pro Default at Start

The dealer/service department did not appear able/willing to make these changes (concerns about stability?)

All in all I am very pleased with the vehicle and the tricky balance of performance and luxury. As an aside, for New Years, I spent several days in the UK and got some seat time in a pre-release 2013 Range Rover Autobiography 3.0 TDV6. Very impressive for what it does!


SamS: Thanks for your threads on the AH3, it helped me quite a bit on my purchasing decision. Hope you can hold on a little bit longer and the information shared confirm your great ordering decision.

2013 Active Hybrid 3, Luxury Line, Mineral Grey / Veneto Beige (Premium, Technology, Driver Assistance, HK Surround, Heated Seats)
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Last edited by MotoEV; 01-09-2013 at 08:38 AM.
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      01-05-2013, 02:50 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MotoEV View Post
Concerns
I have the full Technology Package with BMW Apps yet there is no release date for the iPhone 5 Smart Adapter. BMW should work harder to get these released sooner or provide them at no charge. Also, BMW Apps and BMW Remote are feeling like more of a 'project' than a full implementation. If Hyundai with their Blue Link offering is ready-for-primetime. BMW should at least match it!
You don't need the iPhone 5 adapter to get full functionality from BMW Apps. Just plug in your phone to the center console USB port with the Apple Lighting to USB cable and you'll have everything that the cradle will offer as far as functionality. If you had an older iPhone, the cradle would of course support iPod-out, but folks like us with the 5 have to make due without.

I plan on ordering a set-up from Pro-clip that uses the Apple Lighting cable, and allows the phone to snap in securely near the gear lever on the passenger side. This would be the best of both worlds, you get to charge the phone, use all the BMW apps features, and still have the phone in a handy, visible position. When I used to have my M3 with iPhone 4 + BMW Apps + cradle, it was actually kind of a pain to use the cradle. Very often, I would forget my phone in the center console! Also, it's almost impossible to launch Pandora, etc., while the phone is plugged into the cradle. Having it in a more accessible spot should be a big improvement.


Quote:
Originally Posted by MotoEV View Post
SamS: Thanks for your threads on the AH3, it helped me quite a bit on my purchasing decision. Hope you can hold on a little bit longer and the information shared confirm your great ordering decision.
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      01-05-2013, 04:44 PM   #12
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Nice review, although I expected much better than 22-24 mpg from the hybrid. That's worse than I'm seeing in my 335i.

What are the EPA figures compared to the 335 and 328?
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      01-05-2013, 05:14 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tdizzle
Nice review, although I expected much better than 22-24 mpg from the hybrid. That's worse than I'm seeing in my 335i.

What are the EPA figures compared to the 335 and 328?
It all depends on how you drive and what routes you take. Comparing fuel economy numbers between two people is not very fruitful. I once drove my A4 2.0T as aggressively as I could to and from work (even staying in the speed limit) and got 13mpg rather than my usual 22-24.

The AH3 will only do mildly better than a 335i if you are an aggressive driver. His fuel economy in a 335i would almost certainly be worse.
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      01-05-2013, 07:53 PM   #14
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Oh another fuel economy related thing -- Eco Pro mode can make a big fuel economy difference if your route includes a lot of 45-ish MPH roads or hilly highways. I wish there were a setting for Comfort throttle response but eDRIVE/coasting up to Eco Pro's limits.

I've also gotten better at switching into Eco Pro while I'm at speed and back to Comfort for standing starts or passing/merging. If you micromanage that a bit you can usually squeeze another mpg or two out of your trips.... Whether or not it's worth the hassle is another story. For me, some days I take it as a challenge to see how efficiently I can drive, and other days I just want it in sport mode and unleash the power of the car.
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      01-05-2013, 10:13 PM   #15
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very nice review, i just crested the 700 mile mark on mine today. I've had it almost two weeks now and I absolutely love it. I had a modded e90 before this that had close to 400hp and would haul-ass all over the place. I now drive 95% in eco pro and I am up to 27 mpg combined and it seems to keep climbing as i drive. I also Have a Msport with DHP. Its nice to see another hybrid with the Msport. I have sport, perm, hk, dip, sport auto and heated seats.





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      01-06-2013, 09:13 PM   #16
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Thank you all for the comments. This forum has been very helpful in learning about these cars.

SamS and uucuu3, you will love this car!
Boosted John, your car looks great, and encouraging to see that you're up to 27 mpg.
MotoEV, thanks for the feedback on the issues.

I went for a 120 mile trip on the highway yesterday. I think I am now changing my opinion on the road/wind noise. I've made the same trip countless times with '09 335i, and now I feel the F30 is definitely quieter, especially for road noise. Wind noise might be slightly less as well. (It might be better than "slightly less", since if road noise is less, wind noise might seem more pronounced.) I will update my post with this, and other things as I notice them.
The mpg for the trip was 30 with EcoPro mode engaged all the time. I was "sailing" numerous times when I had the foot off the gas.
I like the car even more after this trip!!

Last edited by zon; 01-06-2013 at 09:15 PM. Reason: make text clearer
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      01-06-2013, 10:21 PM   #17
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today the wife and I drove down to Orlando to buy some clothing for our up coming ski trip. on the way down I drove eco-pro the whole way down from Jacksonville with the cruise set to 80mph. I ended up averaging 34mpg which i was very impressed with.

On the way back up I did about 85mph almost the whole way with quite bit more harder throttle inputs and I still averaged 32.5mpg. Overall I am pretty damn happy with the car and it's fuel economy. It's great not having to give up anything to gain better fuel economy.
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      01-07-2013, 01:49 AM   #18
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It's great to see all the happy ActiveHybrid owners post their thoughts on the car!

I've gone through another tank at 27.0mpg. Looks like when commuting, this reading is consistent and also 3 to 4 mpg better than what my A4 2.0T was able to do (and it has the ZF 8HP as well!)

Going to need a long highway road trip to see what the highway mileage is like. So far I'm really happy with this car.
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      01-07-2013, 02:31 PM   #19
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When you guys take off from a stop sign (i.e. normal city street driving) or stoplight is the car in electric mode for a few seconds before it switches to gas or does the engine come on almost immediately? If it stays in electric up to say 5-8 mph and then switches to gas...what gear is the tranny in at that moment?

The reason I ask is that my Volt has TOTALLY spoiled me with its smooth no gear shifting acceleration...like having a CVT transmission but w/o the noise or any of the other drawbacks - basically, it has redefined my definition of "smooth". On a regular car, most "shifting complaints" (i.e. my car shifts too hard, too soft, downshifts too early or late, etc.) seem to revolve around shifting coming from a stop (i.e. 1-2 shift and 2-3) and coming to a stop. If you can eliminate just those shifts with a hybrid you would achieve many of the smoothness benefits of an electric. I look forward to the feedback.
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      01-07-2013, 02:55 PM   #20
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It depends on how hard you are on the throttle. With light throttle application, you are usually at 5-10mph before the engine turns on. If you punch the throttle more aggressively, then the engine instantly comes on, and the motor and engine work together to accelerate you faster. This will be indicated by the iDrive hybrid screen showing "Engine On - System Request"

In either case, it's responsive and smooth. No complaints.
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      01-07-2013, 03:05 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cblandin View Post
When you guys take off from a stop sign (i.e. normal city street driving) or stoplight is the car in electric mode for a few seconds before it switches to gas or does the engine come on almost immediately? If it stays in electric up to say 5-8 mph and then switches to gas...what gear is the tranny in at that moment?

The reason I ask is that my Volt has TOTALLY spoiled me with its smooth no gear shifting acceleration...like having a CVT transmission but w/o the noise or any of the other drawbacks - basically, it has redefined my definition of "smooth". On a regular car, most "shifting complaints" (i.e. my car shifts too hard, too soft, downshifts too early or late, etc.) seem to revolve around shifting coming from a stop (i.e. 1-2 shift and 2-3) and coming to a stop. If you can eliminate just those shifts with a hybrid you would achieve many of the smoothness benefits of an electric. I look forward to the feedback.
I drive in eco pro 90% of the time. That now means that I leave slowly form the traffic light. most of the time it is in full electric till it get to 18-20mph and that is when the gas motor kicks in for me..
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      01-07-2013, 03:20 PM   #22
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Yeah, in Eco Pro you can definitely get a bit faster before the engine kicks in. It all depends on your willpower
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