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      11-10-2014, 11:03 AM   #1
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Review: F31 Xdrive in the wet.

Now winter is here I wanted to gauge other fellow Xdrive owners on BMW's Xdrive in the wet now that autumn is here and winter looms.

I recently went to Wales on a very wet excursion to the beautiful Brecon Beacons where I good chance to explore the capabilities and compitence of the drivetrain.

I know most on here seem to be 330-335 owners but I own a 320d F31 running Msport (SE) style suspension.

When I bought the car I was impressed with the float and dip under brakes and a fair amount of roll.

To this end I added the ACS springs and a Steinbaur tuning courtsey of Lorcan and this has greatly improved the stats to 218bhp and 345lbs.

The car was never wanting for torque and I know these figure pale into insignificance comapred to the 330 and 335 owners but I deliberately choose the 2 litre model as a direct replacement for our ageing out of date derv Audi A4.


I find the Xdrive a great asset thus far and in Wales it came into it's own. The traction off the line in wet and dry is astonishing but I was interested on how compared to power in thru and out of corners under full load. The car is ultimately set up to understeer when tyre grip is breached at the front but you can definately feel more power apportioned to the rear. On a good spirited drive I found slow in and feathering throttle to full load on mid and exiting the cornering gave great pace in the wet. Unlike the A4 I should add! Being brutle is not this car's forte. The suspension and weight counteracts it's stability and poise where the car becomes somewhat more unsettled.That maybe due to the softer damper but a full blown coilover set is a waste on this car.

The slow in fast out is great fun in the wet watching others struggling for grip and considering it's a family hack for me I find it quite engaging and entertaining. It feels somewhat odd coming from a 2 wheel drive Audi where NSF wheel spin is order of the day in wet conditions.

Had the dealer had a 2012 335d for a similar money I would prpbaly gone for it but having the nagging thought of buying an M3/4 in the future I cannot complain. Funnily I was up for a Golf R but my missus was totally fed up and board of VW's and Audi's A4 and Q5 are out of date and due facelifts.

So far so good.
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      11-10-2014, 11:53 AM   #2
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I drive a fair bit in Wales and lately in rainy places.

While I fully advocate that people should drive sensibly and safely in the wet.

I have a lot of confidence in the xdrive on damp n wet roads.

I have only had a few moments (early on) when accidently pushed it too far.

I believe it's wrong to have it down as a 4x4 type of car.

Tbh in the wet and windy roads, there is only so much power you can safely put down and it's only on those straight bits a 330/335 would differ from your car.

In fact with mine not yet having ACS, yours would handle better and probably prove faster in bands.

Once you get used to the foibles of the ride I think you tend to counteract it and push it out of corners n bends.

For a family estate the 330 tourer is amazing and handles ok, performs brilliantly.
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      11-10-2014, 01:15 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brigand View Post
I drive a fair bit in Wales and lately in rainy places.

While I fully advocate that people should drive sensibly and safely in the wet.

I have a lot of confidence in the xdrive on damp n wet roads.

I have only had a few moments (early on) when accidently pushed it too far.

I believe it's wrong to have it down as a 4x4 type of car.

Tbh in the wet and windy roads, there is only so much power you can safely put down and it's only on those straight bits a 330/335 would differ from your car.

In fact with mine not yet having ACS, yours would handle better and probably prove faster in bands.

Once you get used to the foibles of the ride I think you tend to counteract it and push it out of corners n bends.

For a family estate the 330 tourer is amazing and handles ok, performs brilliantly.
I think it's quite a similar set up to the VAG Haldex system although they are FWD led whereas the BMW has more power apportioned to the rear.
It is certainly no proper 'Quattro' which inheritantly suffer terminal understeer when pushed. Cars like the RS4 suffer with quite a bit of understeer with a large amount of weight 'over' the front axle.

Normal VAG Haldex stuff is pretty dull and horrible on track...been there done that....hence I run an old timer non ESP / ABS / Adaptive chassis MK2 16V Golf. New MQB MK7 GTI / R havea much better Haldex system.

I agree that the 330d / 335d will be electric on the straight but will have more weight over the front axle but with all of that torque it must be nice to have it distributed over the 4 wheels.

It's not a pure driving experience but as it stands as a family hack is certainly has adequate pace, performance and grip and is a nice change from the VAG stable for me.

I am just itching for my M3/4 at some stage but resist the test drive until I am ready to change!
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      11-10-2014, 01:29 PM   #4
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I think the other difference with the bigger engine is that on one hand you've got a bit more weight affecting turn in, but you've got perhaps a little more options with the right foot to affect how you exit. So slow in and fast out means that I could start the fast out bit so much earlier that I ever could on a RWD car. And in the wet I think it's even easier as I don't find the front any less grippy, but the you don't need to be so lairy to get the back in play.

It's not something I've played around with too much tbh as yet, as I just don't get enough time and miles on roads that I can drive like that without worrying about other traffic.

I'm still not sure I'd ever bother to take it to a track day, but was thinking one of the driver performance courses, perhaps the Porsche experience centre one, where you get to use your own car, would be good to have a play about.
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      11-10-2014, 01:38 PM   #5
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Quote:
. New MQB MK7 GTI / R havea much better Haldex system.
The latest Haldex is a mechanical / electronic system (I.e. the GTIs PPK with 4 WD)
The Golf Rs chassis was set up by the Porsche engineer that siged off the last GT3.

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      11-10-2014, 01:52 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Msportman View Post
I think it's quite a similar set up to the VAG Haldex system although they are FWD led whereas the BMW has more power apportioned to the rear.
It is certainly no proper 'Quattro' which inheritantly suffer terminal understeer when pushed. Cars like the RS4 suffer with quite a bit of understeer with a large amount of weight 'over' the front axle.

Normal VAG Haldex stuff is pretty dull and horrible on track...been there done that....hence I run an old timer non ESP / ABS / Adaptive chassis MK2 16V Golf. New MQB MK7 GTI / R havea much better Haldex system.

I agree that the 330d / 335d will be electric on the straight but will have more weight over the front axle but with all of that torque it must be nice to have it distributed over the 4 wheels.

It's not a pure driving experience but as it stands as a family hack is certainly has adequate pace, performance and grip and is a nice change from the VAG stable for me.

I am just itching for my M3/4 at some stage but resist the test drive until I am ready to change!
Really? You think xDrive (a permanent 4WD system, like torsen quattro) is like Haldex (a reactive 4WD system operating in FWD until there's wheel slip)? Nooooo, never!
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      11-10-2014, 01:54 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by F32Dude View Post
Really? You think xDrive (a permanent 4WD system, like torsen quattro) is like Haldex (a reactive 4WD system operating in FWD until there's wheel slip)? Nooooo, never!
Xdrive is not permanent 4 wheel drive system though, as in its not equal front and rear all the time.

Or did I read your post wrong?
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      11-10-2014, 02:03 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brigand View Post
Xdrive is not permanent 4 wheel drive system though, as in its not equal front and rear all the time.

Or did I read your post wrong?
It's permanent in that there is power going to both axles at the same time with a torque bias to the rear. Haldex in normal operation works in FWD mode and reacts when there's wheel slip, moving power to the rear with the closure of the clutch pack. Sure BMW would be pretty upset to hear their premier 4WD system used in their [X] cars is not considered "permanent"!

Permanent does not = equal front/rear. Is "real" quattro (i.e. torsen) not permanent either?!?
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      11-10-2014, 02:07 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by F32Dude View Post
It's permanent in that there is power going to both axles at the same time with a torque bias to the rear. Haldex in normal operation works in FWD mode and reacts when there's wheel slip, moving power to the rear with the closure of the clutch pack. Sure BMW would be pretty upset to hear their premier 4WD system used in their X cars is not considered "permanent"!

Don't think permanent = equal front/rear.
+1

It is definitely a permanent 4 WD system, with 40% of drive to front and 60% to rear under normal operating conditions, with potentially 100% that can be applied to just one axle.

But unlike the Audi's it is a native RWD platform with a better natural weight distribution.
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      11-10-2014, 02:11 PM   #10
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Ok was me misreading it, for permanent I was thinking as in not adjusting.
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      11-10-2014, 04:49 PM   #11
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I think technically speaking BMW's xDrive and Haldex are similar in design (electronic clutch separating front and rear). The difference is in the implementation - that is, the split of front/rear power split and the dynamics/weight of the chassis. VAG's chassis setup is typically front heavy and as a consequence the 4wd split is also front biased.
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      11-10-2014, 07:03 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tengocity View Post
+1

It is definitely a permanent 4 WD system, with 40% of drive to front and 60% to rear under normal operating conditions, with potentially 100% that can be applied to just one axle.

But unlike the Audi's it is a native RWD platform with a better natural weight distribution.
That's how the salesman pitched to me on sale of the car.

I know Haldex is reactionary and FWD until there was slippage but the new generation is more complex unlike 1st and 2nd gen Haldex. I've used a Haldex controller on a 450bhp Golf R which could send 100% to the rear 'more' of the time making drive in a much more a RWD tail out hooligan...this was a late Golf 6 R and was pretty handy with the controller giving flexabilty to change set up for different track. Permanent Quattro can feel quite aggricultural especially early cars but later cars such as RS4 and V6 SC S4's have the option to vary the amount they distribute.

It certainly explains the poorer economy with Xdrive being more of a permanent feature as I am only getting 40-41mpg on average. It creeps up slightly on a run. The A4 was giving 45 on average with high miles and crept to over 50mpg on a run being careful and sometimes more. I can't seem to get the F31 much over the 40mpg.....it must be the extra load on transmission causing higher consumption than the regular 2WD 320D.

I had an E90 a while ago that gave 50+ mpg!
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      11-11-2014, 03:19 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Msportman View Post
It certainly explains the poorer economy with Xdrive being more of a permanent feature as I am only getting 40-41mpg on average. It creeps up slightly on a run. The A4 was giving 45 on average with high miles and crept to over 50mpg on a run being careful and sometimes more. I can't seem to get the F31 much over the 40mpg.....it must be the extra load on transmission causing higher consumption than the regular 2WD 320D.

I had an E90 a while ago that gave 50+ mpg!
I wonder if this economy relates to the tuning box. Did you notice a change when it was installed? I get about 39mpg from an F30 335d from my normal spirited driving. It can rise to high 40s if I am careful, although that doesn't happen often! Are you doing mostly short journeys?
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      11-11-2014, 03:24 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JD6 View Post
I wonder if this economy relates to the tuning box. Did you notice a change when it was installed? I get about 39mpg from an F30 335d from my normal spirited driving. It can rise to high 40s if I am careful, although that doesn't happen often! Are you doing mostly short journeys?
I suspect the tourer suffers from slightly worse economy than the saloons- i struggle to get high 30's and even my light footed wife struggles to get much more than 41mpg. So xdrive plus tourer and a heavy right foot are not a good combination!
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      11-11-2014, 03:52 AM   #15
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That's odd, I've got an f11 520d and until the temperature dropped I've been averaging between 50 and 60 mpg. I drive fairly steady and my commute is around 23 miles each way 80% of which is dual carriageway.

Obviously you would expect an xdrive f31 tourer to be worse than a rwd f30 saloon but certainty not significantly worse than an f11.
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      11-11-2014, 04:00 AM   #16
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That's odd, I've got an f11 520d and until the temperature dropped I've been averaging between 50 and 60 mpg. I drive fairly steady and my commute is around 23 miles each way 80% of which is dual carriageway.

Obviously you would expect an xdrive f31 tourer to be worse than a rwd f30 saloon but certainty not significantly worse than an f11.
I think your 50-60mpg is not typical. Looking at Fuelly suggests that 44-45mpg is about average for the 520d, and that is mostly F10s. A friend who has run an F11 520d for 70k miles is on a 40mpg long term average.

My experience of that engine in the 520d, 320d, 220d, 120d loan cars is that I get 40-45mpg from all of them. I think the relatively low figure could be the result of me trying to drive them at a similar pace to my car, which isn't the most efficient way to do it!

I also get around 43mpg from a 330d sDrive so no real penalty for that extra litre.
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      11-11-2014, 04:06 AM   #17
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I'm doing well then although I do think that the obc is reading on the optimistic side. Even managed 60mpg one morning from a cold start which amazed me.

Would like to hear some more feedback on the tuning box. I ran an Emaps remap on my E91 and loved it.
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      11-11-2014, 04:30 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JD6 View Post
.

My experience of that engine in the 520d, 320d, 220d, 120d loan cars is that I get 40-45mpg from all of them. I think the relatively low figure could be the result of me trying to drive them at a similar pace to my car, which isn't the most efficient way to do it!

.
Exactly my findings too. I ragged the living bejesuses out of my e91 320d and couldn't get it below 41mpg average. It ran at about 44mpg when I first got it and was a little steadier..
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      11-11-2014, 07:08 AM   #19
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I ran an f11 530d for over two years and returned a long term average of around 41mpg. My f31 330d xdrive, after a month's use, is returning about 40 with similar driving. I managed to get 47 mpg with the f31 recently on a long drive with careful driving and very little stop/start. I reckon f11 would have managed pushing 50 from the same journey. Net, net - given that it's the same engine in a lighter body and still returning worse fuel consumption, then the xdrive must be reducing mpg by 2-3 mpg. I can live with that.
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      11-11-2014, 07:08 PM   #20
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My car has only 7k on the clock and yes it runs on short journeys daily but I was interested to see whether I could push up overall mpg from 40.1 which it has been ever since I collected it from the dealer. Steinbaur unit has made little difference. Bit disappointed at mo on fuel efficiency for the smaller capacity. Maybe the short runs but a few trips in the summer didn't change much.
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      11-12-2014, 02:00 AM   #21
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My 330d F31 is only returning 31mpg at best at the moment.
Only has 1200 miles on the clock though so will see how it goes when it starts to loosen up a bit.
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      11-12-2014, 02:08 AM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by malc1 View Post
My 330d F31 is only returning 31mpg at best at the moment.
Only has 1200 miles on the clock though so will see how it goes when it starts to loosen up a bit.
That's very poor, I can get that by driving in sport /+ and gear stick to left and pushing it.

However as soon as I hit 70, it starts returning 40 mpg.

Even on short trips, I get 36 or so.

I only ever drive in comfort mode or left shifted in sport.

Try doing some driving in Self harm mode and see how your mpg changes.
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