2009 BMW M3 Long Term Road Test

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2009 BMW M3: The case for nav...and dipsticks

March 29, 2010

09 m3 henderson.jpg

About a week ago I posted my annoyance at the GMC Terrain for not allowing navigation inputs while driving (there is voice control for it, but that's another blog. Hint: it's not great.). 1487 hit the nail on the head, "apparently GM is taking notes from Toyota with regards to using nav while moving. Thats a shame." While others went a different direction, wondering why I'd ever bother with built-in nav in the first place. Something about maps and motor clubs and other things I don't understand.

Here's why I like navigation: I took a spur-of-the-moment trip to Vegas (really, I was forced into it, "Surprise, Magrath, get to Vegas. Your assistance is needed.") and in Henderson I checked the oil via the little computer which said, roughly, "Hey, you're low on oil. Still OK, not great, though." To which I replied, "Hey, iDrive, can you point me to the closest BMW dealership? Yes? Great." I didn't have a map. I don't think I'll ever own a map.

Sure, I could've used my blackberry to similar results, but this map is bigger and faster and has better resolution. It's a cool, handy toy that, in the M3 at least is in a very attractive $3,250 bundle that comes with comfort access -- along with not owning a map, I hope never to own another key to a car-- M-drive button (!), and the electronic dampers. All of those things are awesome on this car and I figure if you're buying an M3, get this package instead of the $2,900 waste-of-a-great-car automatic.

As for that dipstick thing in the title...well, jump for some raning.

So I check the oil via the stalk-mounted button and the level is below the indicator in the middle. I'm about to do a lot more...enthusiastic....driving in the near future and I'd be happy if the level was right in between the two marks.

Thumbnail image for M3 oil blog 1.jpg

So my brain says at this point half a quart should do it. I pop the top and add half a quart.

oil blog 2.jpg

Exciting, I know. So after that's done I drive to my hotel and then to my destination. That's about 20 miles. The computerey-thing tells me that, after re-evaluating itself -- I knew this because it looked like a clock for about five minutes-- that the oil level was STILL below the center mark! Fine. Another quarter of a quart. (Sorry, no pictures of that.)

Drive another 30 miles. Computer computes. At least one power on-off cycle. Tells me that there is STILL no change in oil level.

Final fourth of that quart goes in.

Computer computes.

...and computes.

....and computes.

Some 90(!) miles later it stops being a clock and starts being an oil meter again....

oil 3.jpg

SONOFA.... Seriously? This would not happen with a dipstick and a rag.

Technology. She's a double-edge sword.

Mike Magrath, Vehicle Testing Assistant @ 19,357 miles

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