25 Years Later – Back in a BMW 328i

When I was kid I put everything I had and some money from my grandpa into a used 1978 2002 BMW manual shift car. I was so proud of that car – the hours of work get it, get all the work done for registration and emissions, and all that. I crashed it not too long after I got it and that was that. 25 years later I find myself in another BMW – the 2012 BMW 328i Sport. There are plenty of reviews over at he big boy magazines, but what does the average driver think of the car after 700 miles? Read on if that sounds interesting, but you won’t get a 0-60 time here.

This is a follow up to my first post on my new ride. There’s a bigger gallery over there.

Initial Impressions – Exterior

I grabbed this car off the lot so it does not have the perfect set of features that I would order the car with, but that being said it is 80% there and some things included are pretty cool. The 328i is a big car – as big as the original 500 series. I like the lines and shaping of the car’s hood and sides. There are some nice contours, but the gash along the hood just above the roundel still looks odd to me. There’s a lot going on in the front – keeping this car’s nooks and crannies clean will be a challenge.

The lights and trim are nice – modern and true to the BMW grill and light traditions.

Can’t say much of the back-end – kinda seems a bit forgotten. Maybe a trunk spoiler would help, but not sure. I do like the tail pipe black chrome treatment, but wish there was a bit more uumph coming out of them.

Mineral Grey – that’s the color. I’m still thinking about the color. I prefer black. It is the hardest color to maintain and also the most rewarding. The grey is nice and because it is dark, there is some depth to it. Its ok – I’ll try some wax on it soon and we’ll see how it goes.

Initial Impressions – Interior

Inside the car – well its fantastic. This car has the sport line treatment in red with the full leather. Top notch stuff, no rattles, and with the new navigation system layout, the interior is ergonomic, driver oriented, and crafted with obvious thought and restraint. I got the matching rubber mats – they bring out more of that “sport line” feel. Buttons are minimal and within easy reach. Odd to not have a track/radio station up/down button on the steering wheel.

The only complaint about the interior is more of a concern. The “black piano” trim is pretty shiny and seems like over time will get scratched up quite a bit. My other complaint is that interior storage is pretty slim. The glove box can hold the manuals and the cover for the cup holder and that’s about it. The center console can hold an iPod and a couple of boxes of mints and a few other small things. That’s about it.

Technology – Telephony

There’s a ton of technology in this car. Surprisingly (yes I also have an X5) it all seems to work pretty well. The navigation/iDrive is the obvious tech package in the car and it is a killer system. The screen itself is great and so far the system is very smooth. I got my phone hooked up easily. The in-car phone calling is great including even conference calling and handling hold and resume actions. I was momentarily confused about how to perform in-call keypad dialing, but the icon is right there.15 seconds and I had it working.

Technology – Driving

The rest of the tech package, auto-dimming mirrors, AC control, power seats, and iPod integration work great. With the iPod my only complaint is that you cannot browse all music. Music has to be in a play list. Around the AC – why is it so loud? I’m talking about the air flow. Pretty noisy.

The multi-function preset buttons are cool. I set the first 3-4 to radio stations and the rest to speed dial from my connected cellphone. You just change the mode and go to a station holding down the button. Same for the phone. Go to a contact, select the phone number, and hold down the button.

I tried the automatic high beam/low beam headlight function last night and got an error on the heads-up display. Something about the camera sensors malfunctioning. Ugh…I crawled all around the car looking for the stupid camera and couldn’t find it. D’oh – its in the rear view mirror and I put my ezPass there. D’oh. Don’t do that – I relocated it to the passenger side and all is well. The function works great. I notice that it will switch to low if your lights hit on a very reflective road sign.

Technology – Keyless Entry

This car has a proximity key fob. Not so sure I like it. You have to take the key out to lock the car so you might as well have stuck it into something. I did figure out how to get all four locks to unlock when you grab the handle. I’m getting used to the whole starting the car thing. Another thing I learned is that once you stop the car, if you take your feet off the pedals and then hit stop again, it will shut off the electronics. I also have the “wave your foot under the bumper and the trunk opens up” thing. However, it doesn’t seem to work too well and I feel like an idiot doing that in the beer store parking lot with nothing happening.

Performance and Handling

This car has everything you would expect in a BMW – tight shifting; the steering has great weight and road feel, excellent traction (but not suitable tires for winters), and an overall suspension that lets you feel the road, but not pay for it with spine tingling bumps and bounces.

Performance is not mind blowing, but I haven’t pushed it since I’m still in break-in period.There is good strength to the engine and it does give a subtle growl. I do agree with the comments from many people that at idle it (the 4-cylinder 240 HP twin turbo) sounds like a bag of jumbling-tumbling silverware.

Shifting – I’m a big manual shift guy, even though I’m not a perfect shifter or a total nut for heel and toe action. Shifts are snappy and short and there is a satisfying connection to the engine from the shifter. You feel the RPMs in the knob when you start the car. I’m still getting used to the shifting difference from my Saab, but this is my favorite part of the BMW. If you can find one, get the manual! The pedals are odd too – the gas is anchored on the floor and the others not. Have to get used to this.

The wheels are 18″ sport with Pirrelli C7 Cinturato run flat tires. Thees are high performance summer tires so I’ll need to get a set of winter wheels and tires. The wheels are simple with clean straight lines. They are nicely coated so they should be relatively easy to keep clean. Not my best pic here, and I still need to try out my tire goo to get the rubber looking nice. I’ll give the Tyromania a try this weekend.

Efficient Dynamics

26MPG and still climbing! That’s amazing! With 240 HP and a 4-cylinder twin turbo, the engine is strong and has lots of low end pull, but if you are into power get the inline 6 in the 335. I wanted the 4 since I drive 64 miles a day on average, and wow I’m impressed. With the manual, you have to take it out of gear and let out the clutch to get start/stop engine functions to work. That takes a while to get used to and I admit that I find that it really makes me pay attention to the lights, but so far it seems to work ok. The  Efficient Dynamics includes electric regeneration through braking and other features to improve fuel efficiency.


The verdict is out on performance, but I’m already sold on this as a great car. I can tell performance will be all I need – the engine just feels strong. The gas mileage alone gets me excited – we’ll see about performance once I get out of the break in period. The tech package is cool and easy to use. The interior of the car is just fantastic. I’ll get used to the paint and I’ll post some updated pics. After a nice deep Pinnacle Souveran wax.I’m sure it will pop.

A shout out to the guys at Thompson BMW for a great experience – thanks Mark!

1 Response

  1. Beren says:

    Mileage overall is up to 26.7 overall.

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