I’m now about 1500 miles in with my 2012 BMW 328i sedan. With this number not only am I out of the recommended break in period, but I’ve learned quite a bit about the car and the driving experience. In the following sections I’ll opine eloquently on the thoughts of a moderately car obsessed regular guy.
Driving the car is an engaging experience that is road focused. You feel the road but not to the extent that your spine is hurting. In the bimmer forums many complain about the steering feeling disconnected, but to me I do not sense this, perhaps because I’ve not experienced models pre-2012. To me the steering to great – even better is the manual transmission. Shifting sharp, accurate, and clutching is smooth. It takes a while to get the clutch points – compared to my Saab it is pretty snappy.
Cornering and handling is a big difference from my Saab. In heavy driving the Saab had quite a bit of body roll – which made for excitement. The BMW stays pretty darn flat in comparison and you really feel like you can power thru curves and twists. A couple of times I did get the back end to break out (not too great), something that my Saab never did. Exciting but also a concern come winter.
When I tell friends I traded a V6 with 285HP for a 4Cyl with 240HP they all give me that sad “oh that’s too bad” look, but this is an amazing engine that feels every bit a true BMW. It may not sound it, but there’s plenty of power for my driving needs. The soon to be available performance exhaust would bring a bit more uumph.
Interior Style and Equipment
The interior of the car I still like quite a bit, although it will need constant dusting and cleaning to stay nice because of all the high gloss materials. The glove box has an extra USB port that is really handy for charging a cell phone while you keep an iPod attached to the iDrive. Speaking of which the iDrive system is really nice. I’ve figured out all the tricks to iPod play, have my phone working perfectly (B-berry Bold 9000), and have a mix of button programming done, using the buttons for both radio stations and speed dial numbers for the phone. My phone gets picked up and paired in about 20 seconds after starting the car.
The seats in the car (not as comfortable as my Saab seats), but after fiddling around with the settings are pretty darn nice. The headrests are a little odd. I can’t seem to find a decent position for them. they tilt at odd angles and generally always seem too far back. I’ll keep fiddling with them
Overall I like the interior and the functions of the iDrive especially – quite an improvement for me since my previous ride had almost no technology other than a navigation system.
The color is starting to grow on me. I’ve washed it a few times and waxed it with Pinnacle Souveran. It does get dirty easily, just like a black car so it will require lots of washing. That’s ok with me. The wheels are definitely a nice upgrade. While cleaning them I noticed the definite lack of brake dust typical with a European car. Apparently this model comes with low-dust brake pads. Cleaning the wheels is a snap.
The exterior has a lot going on with trim pieces, whiskers, mirror caps, and shadow line. Challenging to keep clean and some things would be nice to change out. The “whiskers” near the fog lights should match either the body paint or the shadowline, mixing in another silver color does not seem to work right. A rear spoiler of some kind would help break up the back end I think.
Well anything can be made better, right? There’s a few things I would fix on this model:
- Put a forward/backward button on the steering wheel for radio/media players. Having to hit it on the far right of the radio or the iDrive stick is a PITA and forces the driver to take their eyes off the road. Really quite a major oversight.
- What is with the mirrors??? When you wash the car, water drips out of those suckers for hours. I have to keep them wrapped in a towel to keep from getting drips all down the sides of the car. Annoying. Similar issues with the window trim on the rear windows, but not quite as bad.
- The body work around the headlights has some pretty un-BMW gapping going on. Maybe it is intentional, but I don’t think so. You can see into the engine compartment pretty easily.
- Larger sunroof please! Its so small 🙁
- The parking brake did not come with the matching color theme. Why the heck not? Include that.
- The key fob is gigantic! I can’t believe that it needs to be this large for electronic reasons. Should easily be able to reduce the total size by 2/3.
- Same complaint on my wife’s 2011 X5: Why is the air conditioning so loud? Just on the second fan position you can clearly hear it. On position 4 you are in a wind tunnel hurricane experiment.