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      07-18-2012, 09:22 PM   #1

Drives: Turbo
Join Date: Apr 2012
Location: Philly

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F30 328i Modern Sedan Review

Today I was presented with an opportunity to drive the 2012 BMW 328i (F30) sedan. Now as a bimmerpost member I occasionally check the forums to see how the newer generations of BMWs are coming along. I look more towards the forums more than the magazines that I read while shopping in a super market, and I feel it is my duty to share the experience behind any BMW with others.

The BMW 328i was provided to me as a loaner car, while my E60 550i was due in for service and new tires.

The very first and noticeable thing about the new F30 body, is how it manages to look aggressive and refreshed, yet it still remains its original BMW styling. Before even opening that car I had to sweep around the entire car maybe 3 or 4 times to fully understand (or try to understand) how the designers pictured this car to be the successor to the E9X 3 series. All I have to say is that it depends on your own personal taste to judge the appearance of the F30. I must admit, it has grown on me since the morning when I first saw it parked in front of my house. Something that actually did not make any sense was how they designed the front license plate (not sure but that what it looks like) space right bellow the grills. It looks, in a way, as if the car is sticking out its tongue at you, or had a fat lip. The aluminum colored trim right next to the fog lights looks pretty cool when you stare at it for a bit, certainly adds a type of character to the car overall.

Moving on from the exterior of the car, I decided it was time to open it and get inside. So I took out the FOB key (why are they so huge?) and pressed open. I am not sure if most people pay attention to the beep sound the car makes when they press open, but I look forward to it every time. The 328’s beep was a total disappointment at first. It sounded like BMW replaced it with a Toyota / Lexus sound, but I had to be sure. So I pressed close and open again. The beep once again sounded much similar to the Toyota / Lexus sound, but the closer I got to the car, the more it sounded like a BMW Beep than a Lexus.

I got inside the car and had a look around to see what has really changed since the E9X generation. Now please note, that the 328i was not fully loaded with options. It was just a basic set up with a manual hand moving steering column, standard seats and etc. This car had newer looking shift knob that is standard on pretty much all BMWs, a new display for the gauges, and the iDrive was now mounted on the dash similar to a 6 series F12. The quality of the leather was acceptable, meaning that it does not let you slide around like in some other luxury cars. I think I was mostly disappointed by the new trim BMW decide to use. Its official name is Fine Wood trim “Fineline Pure ” textured. Maybe it would have been fine, but the way it was mounted onto the dash was just terrible. There are huge gaps between the trim and the dash itself, which in time can fill with dust that might be hard to get out while cleaning. The color of the wood also led me to a conclusion that it all looks a bit fake. Maybe it really is a good quality material that is expensive, but for once I will say that BMW has mounted it without much care. I am going to skip the back seat comments simply because I did not really have much time to spend in the back. By the looks, there seems enough space for an average person to fit.

Another interesting point to make is that interior environment resembles a lot to the F12 6 series, until you get to the area with the shifter and buttons such as Sport – Eco Pro, traction and etc. Actually, just to expand more on this area, the car seemed kind of cheap near the shifter. It was all “boring”. The position of the buttons was perfect so you never have to be distracted from the road (If anyone has ever sat in a Porsche Panamera then you know what I mean), but there was nothing fancy about them either. I do feel that the interior of the car is sometimes not worth the price (Estimated at $42,000 – $45,000).

Of course everyone has a different way of seeing things so don’t forget that this is my personal opinion about the looks. Note that looks is not everything, but when you’re buying a car with such a price, you kind of expect it to be built well. I am sure you can maybe add a couple of options to it, change the trim, leather color and it might all seem better, and since this was just a loaner car, I had to drive what I had.

Speaking of driving, there were some interesting question I was waiting to answer for myself. How does the new generation drive? Is it as isolated from the road as I have read in some places? How does the steering feel compare to the other BMWs I have tested? Most importantly, how does the new 2.0 l Inline 4 Turbo engine perform?

When I pressed the start engine button the car came to life, followed by a deathly hiss sound from the air vents, which cleared up in a second or two. Strange that such a sound was there in the first place.

To get the car warmed up, I took it out for a smooth and relaxing ride around the neighborhood. The settings were in comfort, so the ride was really… well… comfortable. After the engine warmed up and was ready to go, I switched it over to sport. Right away I noticed the steering wheel got tighter and heavier, the suspension tightened up, and now I was more in control. By control I mean that you bond with the car and act as one. You slightly turn, the car slightly turns, you go hard in the corner, and the car respects your wish and takes you in with no problems. The traction interacted with some tight turns and corners I took on with decent speed. Was there body roll? Well its not an ///M car so of course it was there, but it did not force me to stop a turn or slow down. To be honest, I was not expecting the 328 to be so good around the turns and as well with the accelerations. Now that I mentioned acceleration, how is the new 4 cylinder engine holding up the previous 328 with the inline 6? One word, amazing! BMW claims a 0 to 60 time of about 5.6 – 5.7 seconds, and after 60 it still pulls. Another point to be made is that there is no drama at all. As where my car would press you hard into the seats, the 328 just sort of goes. The only downside of the engine is that you don’t really hear it until the higher rpms, and when you do finally hear it, it’s really not a bad tone at all. I was so curious about the engine that when I got home I decided to look at it. Popped the hood and there it was, this tiny little engine that made the car run.

Everything seemed perfect about the performance of this car until I had an argument with the 8 speed transmission. That transmission is impossible! Driving in comfort mode I really did expect it to be late on the downshifts and early on the up shifts, but on sport mode it was pretty much that same. Following another car in traffic was very annoying. Just as the car in front of you starts to pull away, a little gap is formed where a 3rd party can jump in front of you. To close the gap you give it some gas, but the car is barley going anywhere. The 8 speed is now thinking which gear to spit out. At this moment, your getting to think that maybe you did not apply enough throttle, so you give it some more. Finally a lower gear kicks in, and you are preparing to take off. Except the car in front of you is already stopping and you must apply the brakes. Now slap the shifter into manual mode, select your proper gear, apply throttle, and you are faced with a delay from the engine. Just when you are about to complain, you are kind of calmed down remembering that the engine performs so well for its size.

The next important item on the list is the brakes. The brakes are good, nothing to complain about other than the feel of the brakes. Yet again I guess each car is different and you just need to get used to it. One thing I definitely noticed was when I tested out the ABS, there was again no drama, no unpleasant feelings, nothing. My passenger didn’t even know anything happened, and possibly I would not have noticed if not for a slight vibration on steering wheel and brake paddle. The vibrations were as aggressive as on other cars.

The car always seems to isolate the outside, and does that make it a bad performance car? No, not all. Actually it is all balanced out very well. As with any new car, you would have to get used to the size of the car, the acceleration times, and even the steering feel and brake feel.

So at the end of the day my 550i was brought back to my house with new tires and new engine oil. I exchanged keys and watched the representative from the dealership get into the 328, start the engine and put it in gear. Just then I smiled and gave a small wink to the car. The 328 might not have the best interior (once again, maybe better with different color and trim combo) but it sure is fun to drive. Just enough Sport when you really want to drive it aggressively, and very comfy when your tired.

It’s not a review without some pictures!
Attached Images

Last edited by alexey21; 07-18-2012 at 09:53 PM.