Tuesday, October 16, 2007

The search for my next car.. 2007 BMW 328i test ride review

Well by now some of you may be noticing a trend. Yes! I do like German cars. I promise though there are some good pictures and reviews on American Muscle coming up soon!

The BMW 3 series has set the benchmark for many years in terms or performance, style, quality and overall driving perfection. It was one of my top choices a few years back when searching for a new car. The E46 chassis 3 series was a high water mark for BMW. After years of perfecting, everything seemed in perfect harmony with the E46. So how does the E90 chassis fair?

Pretty much anyone who is into cars knows about the controversy surrounding the new BMW styling. At first I wasn't even considering checking out the 2007 3 series because I hated the new body design. Hated everything about it. It looked plastic and out of proportion to me. But, everywhere I turned there were adds beckoning me to come look at the new 3 Series. Thousands off this.. lease for nothing that... Finally enough was enough and I went down to my local BMW dealer to test drive an 2007 328i.

Immediately I notice a white over beige 328i sitting up front. Personally I hate this color combo and informed the salesman I had no interest in that car at all. He said he did have the same car in Black over tan (perfect!) and he'd run and get it so we could take it for a drive. While he was searching the lot, I stood in deep thought pondering the lines of the white Florida dream sitting in front of me. Actually it really does grow on you the more you look at it. All the body lines seem to swoop and curve and stop abruptly. I was really starting to warm up to the new body design until I saw... the wheels. Ok.. I know BMW has tons of expensive wheel options and sport packages . this car looks great with them. But, the stock 16 inch wheels look like GARBAGE... I'm sorry.. they look horrid in every way imaginable. BMW really needs to make 17 inch alloys standard on all 3 series cars. I can't imagine walking into a BMW dealership with a handful of cash and saying "Ah.. yes.. I'll take THAT one.. the one with the little wheels." I really think that is a main reason why people have said bad things about this new design.. they've glanced at a 3 series with 16 inch wheels and thought "Urgh.. its hideous!" Anyway enough of my rant.. back to the test ride.

The salesman then pulled up in a beautiful Black metallic over tan 328i. The car had the steptronic automatic transmission and was nicely optioned (minus idrive!! thank God!). Of course the one thing this car was missing was.. 17 inch wheels!!! And the same car with a sport package is about $1500 more. Not terribly expensive to rid this car of the 16 inch wheels.. and also adds multi power seats. That option is a must have in my book, but the main point of this was to actually drive the car... so I looked past the 16 inch wheels for now. Sitting in the car I immediately noticed BMW's interior materials aren't the same quality as they used to be. Don't get me wrong, the fit and finish was very good... Just not quite as good as Audi or Mercedes-Benz entry level sedans. In design the interior is very contemporary and understated. Driving position was very good, but after finding a comfortable position with the driver seat back, no way a passenger over 3 foot tall could sit behind me.

Pulling out of the dealership I noticed strait away how precise everything was on this car. Steering was as finely tuned as the London Symphony. The car was very delicate in a way. All the mechanical processes blend in such a perfect combination its hard to describe. The smooth hum of the quick 230hp 3.0 liter strait 6 engine, highly responsive breaks and of course the suspension. This car really does handle and drive like no other. During our test ride the salesman kept trying to show me how good the stereo was. I didn't care.. in fact.. I turned it off. All I wanted to do in this car was drive. Hands at ten and two.. Eyes forward... Just drive. I didn't care about the cup holders, or the dual climate control, or any of the bells and whistles for that matter. Just those two very functional German gauges directly in front of me ticking around like a Swiss watch.. the gas pedal, the break pedal, the steering wheel and the road in front of me.

If you start to peel away all the quirks of the new 3 Series. What you are left with is pure BMW. The 3 series is still alive and well under that skin. Yes the 16 inch wheels suck.. Yes the run flat tires suck. Ya the design is still hard to get used to. But, as a pure drivers car it just doesn't get any better. The MSRP on the car I drove was around $34,500... and lets just go ahead and add another $1500 or so for the sport package.. because I wouldn't own one without it. If I could find a nice Black over Tan or black 328i with a sport package.. This car sits firmly at number one on my list for a new car. The 335i (a little out of my price range unfortunately) must be just fantastic with its twin-turbo 300hp engine. When the 2008's start to arrive (no changes from what I've heard) I'll drive one home if the deal is right. The BMW 3 series may not be perfect on the outside... But, it is perfect on the inside... And like most things in life.. that is what really matters most!

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