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      03-03-2016, 07:56 PM   #1
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E90 Owner drives two F30s and Fiesta ST

I thought I would share some random thoughts after driving testing out a couple of cars today.

I am currently driving a e90 330i 6mt, and I was toying with the idea of getting a F30. I have heard a lot of things about the i4 328i being peppy, and after seeing a 328xi advertised on a lot about an hour away, I wanted to give it a try.

When I got to the dealership, they had a whole list of cars lined up that I wanted to try! The 15' 328xi auto, beside a 14' 335xi (with all the goodies), plus a Fiesta ST just for giggles.

Jumped in the 328, and immediately felt like a downgrade from my e90. The engine was peppy, but it just felt very strange coming from my I6. The interior did not feel as premium, and the seats, while comfortable, just didn't feel very sporty. I did not feel I was driving a very special car with the 328...

The 335i was nicer, I was amazed by the parking cameras! The engine really made my spine tingle, but again the seats didn't do it for me. That torque though, was quite a difference from my 330.

Both cars rode much more comfortably that my e90, but I do have aftermarket springs. I did feel like both cars, particularly the 328, were very capable in the curves, and the body felt nice and stiff.

The electric steering was very strange coming from my E90. I suppose I would get used to it, but I felt "floaty" for lack of a better word. Even my wife said she didn't feel completely in control. I guess its a matter of the missing feedback we are used to. I felt like I was driving my car after a big dose of Nyquil (don't do that).

I know, I know, they were both AWD models, and that was a big difference from my RWD in itself.
Beautiful cars, but I went away not so eager to move on just yet.

Then I drove the Fiesta ST. Yes, if felt like I was getting into a plastic storage bin with a steering wheel. Sooo much plastic, but it had a nice driving position, and the gearbox was smooth enough. I felt like a kid in this thing- it actually FELT faster that the 335, though obviously it wasn't. The little 4 was so rev happy and the torque was surprising. It was hard not to light up the tires every time I pulled out. It was much too loud for me though, and I wondered the whole time if that was the stock pipes (drooooone).

The Fiesta was a ton of fun and reminded me of my e36 (though the e36 was more fun IMHO). I could never seem myself owning one though- it would be like dating someone 20 years younger... just too weird. l envy the kid who gets to blast around in one of these things.

Not trying to down anyone's ride, but I thought some e90 owners might want to know what its like to drive the two new turbos. They definitely deliver on power, but the new cars seem like a bit of a downgrade in the interior department, and the XI cars have a TALL driving position.

At the end of the day, my wife was going on about how much she liked the tech in the 335, and how much she hated the Fiesta.

Now I just need to find a more aptly appointed 328i to try.

Would I trade even? Sure! Is it worth $25k to get into a newer F30? Not just yet, for me at least.
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      03-03-2016, 08:02 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thecadman99 View Post
I thought I would share some random thoughts after driving testing out a couple of cars today.

I am currently driving a e90 330i 6mt, and I was toying with the idea of getting a F30. I have heard a lot of things about the i4 328i being peppy, and after seeing a 328xi advertised on a lot about an hour away, I wanted to give it a try.

When I got to the dealership, they had a whole list of cars lined up that I wanted to try! The 15' 328xi auto, beside a 14' 335xi (with all the goodies), plus a Fiesta ST just for giggles.

Jumped in the 328, and immediately felt like a downgrade from my e90. The engine was peppy, but it just felt very strange coming from my I6. The interior did not feel as premium, and the seats, while comfortable, just didn't feel very sporty. I did not feel I was driving a very special car with the 328...

The 335i was nicer, I was amazed by the parking cameras! The engine really made my spine tingle, but again the seats didn't do it for me. That torque though, was quite a difference from my 330.

Both cars rode much more comfortably that my e90, but I do have aftermarket springs. I did feel like both cars, particularly the 328, were very capable in the curves, and the body felt nice and stiff.

The electric steering was very strange coming from my E90. I suppose I would get used to it, but I felt "floaty" for lack of a better word. Even my wife said she didn't feel completely in control. I guess its a matter of the missing feedback we are used to. I felt like I was driving my car after a big dose of Nyquil (don't do that).

I know, I know, they were both AWD models, and that was a big difference from my RWD in itself.
Beautiful cars, but I went away not so eager to move on just yet.

Then I drove the Fiesta ST. Yes, if felt like I was getting into a plastic storage bin with a steering wheel. Sooo much plastic, but it had a nice driving position, and the gearbox was smooth enough. I felt like a kid in this thing- it actually FELT faster that the 335, though obviously it wasn't. The little 4 was so rev happy and the torque was surprising. It was hard not to light up the tires every time I pulled out. It was much too loud for me though, and I wondered the whole time if that was the stock pipes (drooooone).

The Fiesta was a ton of fun and reminded me of my e36 (though the e36 was more fun IMHO). I could never seem myself owning one though- it would be like dating someone 20 years younger... just too weird. l envy the kid who gets to blast around in one of these things.

Not trying to down anyone's ride, but I thought some e90 owners might want to know what its like to drive the two new turbos. They definitely deliver on power, but the new cars seem like a bit of a downgrade in the interior department, and the XI cars have a TALL driving position.

At the end of the day, my wife was going on about how much she liked the tech in the 335, and how much she hated the Fiesta.

Now I just need to find a more aptly appointed 328i to try.

Would I trade even? Sure! Is it worth $25k to get into a newer F30? Not just yet, for me at least.
I found there was a HUGE difference between the normal 335i and the Msport 335i with MPPK.

It's was what made me trade in my 14' 328i sportline for it.
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      03-03-2016, 08:30 PM   #3
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Interesting you think the interior was a downgrade. I have a couple friends with E90s and they think my interior is much better built than theirs.

In truth, they both have their cheap bits, overall I'd give the nod to the F30 by a decent margin but they're both well put together.

I think the E90 M Sport 335i drives better than mine though...
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      03-03-2016, 08:49 PM   #4
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Thanks for the review and point of views.

Obviously it is your opinion but i think you are not too far from the truth...

Good luck in your search
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      03-03-2016, 08:59 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thecadman99 View Post
I thought I would share some random thoughts after driving testing out a couple of cars today.

I am currently driving a e90 330i 6mt, and I was toying with the idea of getting a F30. I have heard a lot of things about the i4 328i being peppy, and after seeing a 328xi advertised on a lot about an hour away, I wanted to give it a try.

When I got to the dealership, they had a whole list of cars lined up that I wanted to try! The 15' 328xi auto, beside a 14' 335xi (with all the goodies), plus a Fiesta ST just for giggles.

Jumped in the 328, and immediately felt like a downgrade from my e90. The engine was peppy, but it just felt very strange coming from my I6. The interior did not feel as premium, and the seats, while comfortable, just didn't feel very sporty. I did not feel I was driving a very special car with the 328...

The 335i was nicer, I was amazed by the parking cameras! The engine really made my spine tingle, but again the seats didn't do it for me. That torque though, was quite a difference from my 330.

Both cars rode much more comfortably that my e90, but I do have aftermarket springs. I did feel like both cars, particularly the 328, were very capable in the curves, and the body felt nice and stiff.

The electric steering was very strange coming from my E90. I suppose I would get used to it, but I felt "floaty" for lack of a better word. Even my wife said she didn't feel completely in control. I guess its a matter of the missing feedback we are used to. I felt like I was driving my car after a big dose of Nyquil (don't do that).

I know, I know, they were both AWD models, and that was a big difference from my RWD in itself.
Beautiful cars, but I went away not so eager to move on just yet.

Then I drove the Fiesta ST. Yes, if felt like I was getting into a plastic storage bin with a steering wheel. Sooo much plastic, but it had a nice driving position, and the gearbox was smooth enough. I felt like a kid in this thing- it actually FELT faster that the 335, though obviously it wasn't. The little 4 was so rev happy and the torque was surprising. It was hard not to light up the tires every time I pulled out. It was much too loud for me though, and I wondered the whole time if that was the stock pipes (drooooone).

The Fiesta was a ton of fun and reminded me of my e36 (though the e36 was more fun IMHO). I could never seem myself owning one though- it would be like dating someone 20 years younger... just too weird. l envy the kid who gets to blast around in one of these things.

Not trying to down anyone's ride, but I thought some e90 owners might want to know what its like to drive the two new turbos. They definitely deliver on power, but the new cars seem like a bit of a downgrade in the interior department, and the XI cars have a TALL driving position.

At the end of the day, my wife was going on about how much she liked the tech in the 335, and how much she hated the Fiesta.

Now I just need to find a more aptly appointed 328i to try.

Would I trade even? Sure! Is it worth $25k to get into a newer F30? Not just yet, for me at least.
Thanks for sharing. I'm one of the few who can directly relate to your situation. I also own a 2006 E90 330i 6MT, Sport in ADDITION to a 2014 335i Sport 6MT. I agree with your sentiment that the whole car (F30) feels disengaged. Anyone who tells you otherwise either never owned another BMW or simply forgets the visceral connectivity of the chassis and steering of earlier platforms.

Is the F30 good? Sure. Is it full of tech and safety features well beyond the E90? Absolutely. Is it more powerful? Well, only if you really get into it...as the normally aspirated N52 has a much more immediate access to torque, even if it doesn't have the high-end punch of the N55. The rated power difference is only 45 HP, and that feels about right (255 vs. 300), and only at the top end. I even like the F30 interior much better.

All that being said, I don't feel like I'm driving as special of a car. My 16 year old now drives the E90 330i.

I guess I can sum it up based upon what I told him the other day..."Do you know what's more fun than driving my new BMW? Driving my old one."
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      03-03-2016, 09:04 PM   #6
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[QUOTE=DrivenByE30;19505098]Thanks for the review and point of views.

Obviously it is your opinion but i think you are not too far from the truth...

Good luck in your search[/QUOTE

Everything is all an opinion.
I had an e90 335 last year and now with my f30 335, I think the newer version is better in almost every way..to me the steering is equal, some aspects of the e90 sttering I liked better and some things I like better with the ES, so I give it an equal.
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      03-03-2016, 10:01 PM   #7
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As a side comparison, I dd an F30 328i and an E46 328i and had a loaner E90 320i with 70,000KM on it yesterday.

The E90 320i felt heavy and and the interior wasn't terribly impressive in both design and execution. Materials didn't seem to be superior to the F30 at all.

If I had to describe my day with an E90 320i I would say it was like driving a tank.

Being used to my 328i F30, I don't appreciate it as much as I should, however after getting back in it everything felt new again. The smell, the feel, the handling. I felt free.

I then got into my E46 328i (225,000KM) that afternoon and had none of the feelings I had with the E90. Compared to the E90 the interior made more sense, the handling feels tighter and it is an overall better car. I never feel like I am missing out when I drive the E46 over the F30.

I have driven other E90's (including 335i) and still never understood why people look at them as the pinacle of the BMW 3. Compared to the E46 they are bigger, heavier and not as nicely designed. The center console design is not as nice and is harder to reach as it doesn't slope towards the driver.

It just seems to me as history repeats itself every time a new model is released, people are grasping at straws to try and justify why they feel keeping their working, well maintained older model is better than buying a new one when really by this point they are comparing a solid and well designed used car which can be picked up affordably against a current model new car with all the costs of a new car. Both options are fine at the end of the day!
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      03-03-2016, 10:15 PM   #8
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      03-03-2016, 11:11 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AudiA4 View Post
The rated power difference is only 45 HP, and that feels about right (255 vs. 300), and only at the top end. I even like the F30 interior much better.
Do you really feel 45hp is about right? The E90 330i's engine felt simply adequate to me as did the 328i's less powerful version. I'm willing to bet my left nut (the bigger one) that there is more in the line of a 75-80 HP difference at the wheels between these models (e90 330i vs F30 335i). As for the interior.. I don't understand how anyone with an e90 can say the F30 has a less refined interior.. My two e92s were just fine, as is my F32.. The difference is that my seat belt butlers still work after 2 years in my F32, there is no peeling of the interior trim in my F32, and I can still make sense of the temp control pixels in my F32.
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      03-03-2016, 11:44 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Vegetable View Post
Do you really feel 45hp is about right? The E90 330i's engine felt simply adequate to me as did the 328i's less powerful version. I'm willing to bet my left nut (the bigger one) that there is more in the line of a 75-80 HP difference at the wheels between these models (e90 330i vs F30 335i). As for the interior.. I don't understand how anyone with an e90 can say the F30 has a less refined interior.. My two e92s were just fine, as is my F32.. The difference is that my seat belt butlers still work after 2 years in my F32, there is no peeling of the interior trim in my F32, and I can still make sense of the temp control pixels in my F32.
Well first, I said I preferred the F30 interior.

Second, yes, I don't think it feels any more powerful than the specified stats would suggest (255 vs. 300)...MORE importantly, it's normally aspirated, so the power is IMMEDIATELY accessible down low...no lag. That means in most circumstances around town, the power is more accessible. The only time the F30 feels more powerful is at the top end, when you wind it out...that turbo push from 4,500 RPM up. I guess reading this, I've simply described the flat torque curve of a NA engine vs. a boosted engine, and all the requisite pros and cons.
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      03-04-2016, 01:54 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AudiA4 View Post
Well first, I said I preferred the F30 interior.

Second, yes, I don't think it feels any more powerful than the specified stats would suggest (255 vs. 300)...MORE importantly, it's normally aspirated, so the power is IMMEDIATELY accessible down low...no lag. That means in most circumstances around town, the power is more accessible. The only time the F30 feels more powerful is at the top end, when you wind it out...that turbo push from 4,500 RPM up. I guess reading this, I've simply described the flat torque curve of a NA engine vs. a boosted engine, and all the requisite pros and cons.
The interior comment wasn't directed towards you.. just a comment.. Sorry I didn't make myself clear.

As for N/A power being immediately available "down low" You've got it twisted.... N/A engines typically get their peak power/torque much higher in the rev range than do turbo engines. Turbocharged engines such as the N54/N55/B58 get their power and torque early and tend to peter out as revs climb north of 6,500 RPM. Small N/A engines, on the other-hand, are typically gutless in the low end, and come alive in the upper rev range, i.e. the small V8 in the e9x M3/ the 4.2 in the RS5/ and any N/A 4- banger Honda engine.
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      03-04-2016, 05:18 AM   #12
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You make some good points. Every time I brought my e90 and got an f30 loaner I was always really happy to get back in the e90. The f30 was a bummer. Now I'm much happier in the f31, particularly since I optioned it properly.

Now, my overall opinion is:

E90 > F30 Steering, road feel
F30 >= E90 everything else
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      03-04-2016, 05:43 AM   #13
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      03-04-2016, 05:54 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Vegetable
Quote:
Originally Posted by AudiA4 View Post
Well first, I said I preferred the F30 interior.

Second, yes, I don't think it feels any more powerful than the specified stats would suggest (255 vs. 300)...MORE importantly, it's normally aspirated, so the power is IMMEDIATELY accessible down low...no lag. That means in most circumstances around town, the power is more accessible. The only time the F30 feels more powerful is at the top end, when you wind it out...that turbo push from 4,500 RPM up. I guess reading this, I've simply described the flat torque curve of a NA engine vs. a boosted engine, and all the requisite pros and cons.
The interior comment wasn't directed towards you.. just a comment.. Sorry I didn't make myself clear.

As for N/A power being immediately available "down low" You've got it twisted.... N/A engines typically get their peak power/torque much higher in the rev range than do turbo engines. Turbocharged engines such as the N54/N55/B58 get their power and torque early and tend to peter out as revs climb north of 6,500 RPM. Small N/A engines, on the other-hand, are typically gutless in the low end, and come alive in the upper rev range, i.e. the small V8 in the e9x M3/ the 4.2 in the RS5/ and any N/A 4- banger Honda engine.
You've somehow misunderstood my description. I'm basically saying there's no turbo lag and the torque curve is flatter, so you have more power down low without having to wind the motor to generate boost. Like I said, I'm simply describing the most basic positive attribute commonly ascribed to NA engines.
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      03-04-2016, 06:43 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AudiA4 View Post
You've somehow misunderstood my description. I'm basically saying there's no turbo lag and the torque curve is flatter, so you have more power down low without having to wind the motor to generate boost. Like I said, I'm simply describing the most basic positive attribute commonly ascribed to NA engines.
Not following this at all, for me the reason for buying an N55, it has a much greater mid range than the N/A variants. Being a diesel driver as well as the petrol engines, driving the N55 is as near as you can get to having a decent amount of (diesel like) torque low down. The N52 only puts out 300Nm and comes on a reasonably flat plateau from 2,500rpm. The N55 by comparison is up to 400Nm before 1,500rpm. Makes it very useable mid range.

BMW don't show torque rising in the N55 with rpm, but power is definitely climbing and much ahead of the N52 in the 3,000 - 4,000rpm range, ~50bhp more. OK power and torque curves are not exactly according to BMW graphs in reality, but still have similar profiles, unless something is wrong with an individual engine.

If the N55 wasn't a decent performer in the mid range, I'd not be driving one, I'd be in a 3-litre diesel where torque abounds.
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      03-04-2016, 07:00 AM   #16
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I know what you mean. I have an E92 335is...love this car so much. So much better than the M3 I had. Now i have to turn it in at the end of the lease and cannot buy it because of the Takata crap.
I'm just now that blown away with the new 3...i guess I'll get used to everything once I'm in it.
I test drove the new C450 Amg Sport-closest in driving to my IS. Love the interior, drives die and sounds great, but leasing residuals aren't as good as BMW and I wasn't impressed with the dealership.
I understand the struggle!!
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      03-04-2016, 08:03 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HighlandPete
Quote:
Originally Posted by AudiA4 View Post
You've somehow misunderstood my description. I'm basically saying there's no turbo lag and the torque curve is flatter, so you have more power down low without having to wind the motor to generate boost. Like I said, I'm simply describing the most basic positive attribute commonly ascribed to NA engines.
Not following this at all, for me the reason for buying an N55, it has a much greater mid range than the N/A variants. Being a diesel driver as well as the petrol engines, driving the N55 is as near as you can get to having a decent amount of (diesel like) torque low down. The N52 only puts out 300Nm and comes on a reasonably flat plateau from 2,500rpm. The N55 by comparison is up to 400Nm before 1,500rpm. Makes it very useable mid range.

BMW don't show torque rising in the N55 with rpm, but power is definitely climbing and much ahead of the N52 in the 3,000 - 4,000rpm range, ~50bhp more. OK power and torque curves are not exactly according to BMW graphs in reality, but still have similar profiles, unless something is wrong with an individual engine.

If the N55 wasn't a decent performer in the mid range, I'd not be driving one, I'd be in a 3-litre diesel where torque abounds.
Okay, let's try this one more time. Have you heard of turbo lag? My 330i doesn't have any.
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      03-04-2016, 09:07 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AudiA4 View Post
Okay, let's try this one more time. Have you heard of turbo lag? My 330i doesn't have any.
Yes, and neither my previous E92 with N54 engine and my current F30 with N55 engine have any "turbo lag". That was the case with the early Porsche turbo cars and other makes, but there's no discernible lag in the newer cars. I get full torque starting at ~1200 RPM in the F30, same as in the E92. I don't think 1200 RPM constitutes "winding the engine". My wife's 128i convertible with N52 engine is plenty powerful enough, but hasn't got near the low-end torque or power that my F30 has.

There are some cars (mostly competition types) built with much larger turbos that deliver higher power and torque but require more rpm to spool up. That's just not the case with the turbos used on the E9x and F3x cars. Low-end torque is what allows the top 2 gears in the 8AT to be overdrives, allowing ~70 MPH @ 1800 RPM and enough torque to accelerate for passing without kicking down (if you keep your foot out of it).
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      03-04-2016, 09:33 AM   #19
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Okay, let's try this one more time. Have you heard of turbo lag? My 330i doesn't have any.
I don't see turbo lag being a big deal, hardly noticeable (auto may be masking it a bit). For me it is the driveability of the engine, and that is where the N55 scores so well, like the attraction for BMW's I6 diesels.
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      03-04-2016, 09:47 AM   #20
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Okay, let's try this one more time. Have you heard of turbo lag? My 330i doesn't have any.
Really doesn't matter about the millisecond of turbo lag--335 will dust off the 330 from start to finish with ease.
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      03-04-2016, 10:29 AM   #21
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The N55 is a great motor, but like EVERY turbo ever made, there is a bit of turbo lag - an elasticity that's ever present between the accelerator pedal and the reaction of the engine. Sure, it's well regarded as being one of the best turbocharged engines at eliminating that tendency, but it's not been eliminated.

Since I'm guessing most of you don't own two BMW's with the N55 and N52 to compare, and you get used to what you have, your perspective is limited, at best. Since I can hop in both back-to-back, my point is that NA engines have an immediacy that is noticeable in everyday driving, and noticeable at partial throttle. It's a beautiful thing, and to me, it's an advantage in most driving situations around town. The N55 stands out when you really call for more power at the top end, where the N52 loses steam. I wasn't arguing that the N52 was more powerful, or a better motor, but merely that I appreciate the day-to-day drivability of a NA engine.

I'm not arguing one over the other. I own both. I'm merely offering my observation between the two, which is the topic and request of the OP.
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      03-04-2016, 10:53 AM   #22
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The N55 is a great motor, but like EVERY turbo ever made, there is a bit of turbo lag - an elasticity that's ever present between the accelerator pedal and the reaction of the engine. Sure, it's well regarded as being one of the best turbocharged engines at eliminating that tendency, but it's not been eliminated.

Since I'm guessing most of you don't own two BMW's with the N55 and N52 to compare, and you get used to what you have, your perspective is limited, at best. Since I can hop in both back-to-back, my point is that NA engines have an immediacy that is noticeable in everyday driving, and noticeable at partial throttle. It's a beautiful thing, and to me, it's an advantage in most driving situations around town. The N55 stands out when you really call for more power at the top end, where the N52 loses steam. I wasn't arguing that the N52 was more powerful, or a better motor, but merely that I appreciate the day-to-day drivability of a NA engine.
Understand your preference, but to be honest still a bit surprised the more muscular feel mid range doesn't swing the driveability choice to the N55, even around town. Sounds as if throttle response is high on your priority list.

I haven't driven an N52 engine for quite some time, my experience, it's a decent performer, particularly when revved. But driving a high torque diesel at the time, it lacked low down urge, almost like a hole in the lower to mid range power delivery. Don't get me wrong, the N52 is a sweet and creamy engine.
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