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      01-04-2013, 07:11 PM   #1
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Drives: EBII Active Hybrid 3
Join Date: Jan 2013
Location: Bay Area, CA

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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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