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As most consumer reviews are from a BMW fan, often the focus are more of the "Driving Experience" and "the engines". I will try to fill-in a little more details of my first impressions from a perspective of a first time owner. VEHICLE DESCRIPTION: 2011 BMW 328xi Sedan, Jet-Black paint, Premium Pkg, Value Pkg, iDrive with Navigation, Heated Front Seats, Heated Steering Wheel, sun roof, Oyster/Black Dakota Leather interior, Standard Audio. MECHANICS: This car has a 6 cyl 3.0L NA engine with 6-speed auto transmission. On my driving experience, the automatic transmission has a much smoother gear shifting that almost mimics the manual stick shift driving. A well balanced suspension that can take tight turns confidently and at the same time giving you a plush ride. Driving this car brings the true meaning of Sport Luxury Sedan. The only downside is the premium fuel requiring to avoid ethanol blends if you intend your engine to give better performance. The degradation of engine power is felt when driving at higher altitude >1000 ft using the premium BP 91 grade fuel with 10% ethanol; I switched to Shell 93 grade fuel with 10% ethanol and the power has improved a bit. Also, the city gas mileage is 2nd to last among its peers. I don't look at the highway mileage rating for comparison since in reality no car ever achieves it anyways. I'm currently on break-in with 600 miles on it and my average mileage is at 16.2 mpg way below the city rating. Was it due to the blended gas here in Illinois? BMW service told me to get back with them if things don't change after the break-in period. So, we'll see how it goes?. INTERIOR: I'm not sure what most people like for their interior, but for me, among all the options offered by BMW, the Oyster/Black Dakota Leather has the best color combination that is pleasant to the eyes and I'm lucky to have this in my car. The dash board design lacks the modern look and is more of a conservative one which contradicts to the sporty image that BMW tries to project. The glove compartment is tiny for it's size that even the Owner's Manual could barely fit in. The pop-up cup holders on the dashboard are too shallow that it can't hold your drinks firmly that it sometimes become a distraction when taking turns. ACCESSORIES: The iDrive is BMW's centralized interactive control system with an LCD display and a joystick-dial knob. It covers the operation of MP3/CD, DVD, media storage (12gb), navigation, telephone and vehicle configuration/status. The LCD display is the widest I've seen among luxury sport sedans; I like the split screen mode having 2/3 as your main screen useful for viewing maps, browsing the media library, telephone related functions and 1/3 displays the text based nav direction, location and altitude. I like the idea of voice activated command as your shortcut to certain functionalities but I am yet to try them. The Premium pkg comes with BMW Assist for automatic collision notification for emergency response, it also uploads data of the condition of the vehicle, your location via GPS and the number of occupants based on the weight on the seats during such event. There is also an SOS button if you need help in the middle of nowhere. The Nav package has a Vehicle Recovery feature which you can locate your car in case it was stolen or towed. USB and Aux Input are located inside the center armrest which I can plug iPod or similar MP3 player and I can have the option to upload the music to the car's 12gb media storage. The charger outlet is also inside the armrest but due to its location, charging your phone leaves that wide armrest partially lifted which bothers me while I'm driving. CONTROL ISSUES: Both my wife and I in our first few days of driving, got us confused with the Turn Signal lever and the Cruise Control lever which are closely located. This can be a safety issue for new drivers especially when changing lanes at high speed to think that you had your signal on but instead it was your cruise control and drivers on your side will be caught unaware of your sudden change of lane which could lead to accident. Why can't those engineers put the cruise control functions on the steering panel like most cars do? The iDrive and Navigation and all the other fancy hi-tech functionalities are great but the joystick control knob and it's supporting buttons are located below the gear-shift lever; which means if you want to push some buttons while driving, you need to take your eyes off the road completely which is another safety concern; otherwise, you gotta memorize where the buttons are and feel them. I still like the idea of touch screen or put the controls at the steering panel just like Volvo does. I noticed when driving that the steering is a little heavy? Is this something related to being sporty? My Volvo XC90 SUV which is much heavier in weight has a lighter steering... UPGRADES: Window Tinting. There is no option for me to get a tinted glass window in the BMW line-up, and so, I got mine with window film tint from a local shop for $300. Standard Audio Upgrade. The first thing that hit me while I'm enjoying my driving is the sound system really is terrible and it's more worse if you're the guy that sits at the back where it's speakers sounded like your Grand Pa's old transistor radio!! Even my wife who is not an audiophile had noticed it too. And true enough, from most forums I've checked, there were more people complaining about it given the price paid at $40K plus. The tone of the sound is more of mid-range lacking the crisp highs and better mid-bass. Now, I'm beginning to appreciate Volvo's standard audio system which sounded closer to the BMW's Premium Harman-Kardon system. I called my dealership requesting an upgrade of my audio system and I'm told that BMW don't have this an upgradable option. Nevertheless, as the forums had suggested, I decided to change all speakers with Bavarian Soundwerks costing about $520 + installation labor of $160. A good sound plus a great driving experience will make it truly an enjoyable ride (at the expense of shelling out more cash on top of $43,000). After Market Support. BMW has a huge after market products bolstered by its huge followers. You'll never runout of projects to dress-up your car - from chrome trim kits, custom HID lights and sport packages. SUMMARY: The driving experience is great! Plus, it uplifts your image as a sporty guy in a classy way and a good ride for your girl that could wow her friends. But behind the scenes, I have my disappointments given the price I have paid. Will I have this for longer keeps? Nah? The sport sedan/coupe segment is a highly competitive market; there are other luxury brands that offers more options, better engines that runs on regular gas, good gas mileage, and equivalent driving dynamics for the same price you pay. I got this bimmer for the sake of experiencing it at least for once in my life. If you're a car enthusiast, this BMW is for you, but as you start to pile-up options closer to 50 grand you might consider moving higher like Porsche Cayman for starters - just my opinion.Report it
This is the most comprehensive, detailed, consumer review for the BMW 3 series, I owned the 3 series in the past, and I believe that this review highlights the pros and cons in a subjective way. Thanks for your clarity and details.Report it
Excellent Review! Thank you for posting this. I'm about to buy my wife a 328i. Your comments coincide with the comments I've read on BimmerForums and BimmerPost. I think I know what to expect now.Report it
I'm shopping for a hard top convertible. Your review was excellent and very helpful. I test drove both the Volvo C70 and BMW 328i yesterday. My wife and I both thought the C70 had three major problems: (1) poor acceleration, (2) poor ride, we felt every bump and hole in the road, (3) loud road noise. Both the Volvo general manager and another customer (who was there in his BMW) test driving the C70 thought I would find the a BMW louder and rougher ride, but I found just the opposite. My concern with the BMW is how much the maintenance will be after the "free" service expires.Report it
My wife has the Volvo s60 T6 and it is a rocket ship on acceleration compared to my 2011 328xi. However the ride is harsh and it's noisier, but has a much better radio. BMW has it beat every other way. My car has 19k miles on it after almost 18 mos and it's delivering 21.9mpg. I live in NJ and there's not much 'city' driving. My only complaint is throttle response can be laggy but cured by using Sport mode. I have no other issues with the car.. The ride is simply excellent as is handling, typical for BMW.Report it
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