I spent the better part of a frigid New England (just snowed) morning test driving two cars 1) a 2014 BMW 328xi wagon with luxury package and 2) a new 2015 BMW 328xd wagon with nav and a couple of the basic packages. I had never driven a diesel before so I felt I owed it to myself to try these two head-to-head. While the diesel had a broadly useable torque band, I felt it lacked uphill oomph especially in the 2nd or 3rd gear range (tough to tell because the transmission shifts so smoothly in both models). Granted this was a 25 degree day and we basically started it cold from the dealership, but after having driven a similarly cold gasoline model over the same roads earlier in the morning, the diesel just didn?t compare. In my opinion, the diesel was overpriced even with the 2015 ?leftover? discount, about $7k more than the lightly used 2014 with 10k miles. The diesel exhaust note, as many reviews have noted, is coarse and loud at revs. The gasoline exhaust note is fake, pumped in through the sound system. You can actually hear it change its volume if you switch from Comfort to Sport under hard acceleration. Still, I prefer a quiet car with some audio theatrics to one that sounds like an economy car with gravel under the hood.
Now for some comments that pertain to both models:
1) Very few reviews ever cover the fit and functionality of child seats. The local used car dealership graciously allowed me to mess around with different configurations after I test drove it. I am 6?0 and need to use a fair amount of front seat track to get comfortable behind the wheel. In the rear-facing position, I found the child seat to be workable, but it took a fair amount of finagling. Both test cars were equipped with power front seats rather than the manual kind found in some of the base models. For 6?0+ drivers, you might have to live with your seatback a little more upright than you?re used to in order to get the child seat to fit correctly in the rear-facing position. I also found it helped to drop the driver?s seat almost to the floor. In the front-facing position, there were no problems at all.
Now, I didn?t try one of our newer child seats ? a Britax G3 Marathon. Those stay in my wife?s minivan since she does 90% of the child transportation. They are a bit more bulky, mostly laterally, than the regular G3 because they have the extra head protection. With BMW?s new 40-20-40 folding seatbacks, you might be able to utilize your ?20? with two regular G3s in the back, but you?d have a much harder time doing the same thing with the wider G3 Marathons.
2) The stock stereo system is middling. Not sure the upgrade would necessarily be worth it, but it could be worth considering.
3) Despite some criticism of the new suspension, I found the Sport mode in both models to be amply stiff for hard corners in slippery conditions. Yes, I did try a couple after dropping off my sales minder at the front door.
4) Visibility out the back is limited and the side mirrors are tiny. Unfortunately, this means springing for blind-spot detection is a must.
5) After half an hour in the standard seats, I wasn?t loving them. The seat bottoms are totally flat with just average padding. They reminded me of the mid-90s Subaru Outback wagon seats. Both my testers had lumbar support, which even for me as a relatively healthy mid-30s guy is a must. I would probably limit my search to models with the sport seats from here out.
6) The new touch-sensitive controller is little too sensitive for the initiated, but I found myself accidentally clicking stuff when I was trying to use the jogger control.
7) Overall, I don?t think either of these models is worth the near $50k price tag, but finding a lightly used CPO at <$40k seems right for the gasoline-powered model. The diesel model really doesn?t warrant a premium, but my commutes most days are fairly short so I?m probably not the target market for it.
Engine and transmission are smooth as silk. The turbo-4cyl with 8AT is outstanding.
0 issues with vehicle and dealer has been outstanding for scheduled maintainence.
I-Drive is waaaaay better than my wife's Audi MMI.
Wagons new are $$$, look for a used CPO. Ridiculous what an optioned new wagon costs.
Only complaint is, and this is an issues with pre-LCI F30's, is electric steering. Ugh, our old E90 was better in steering/road feel vs the newer F30's.
Also if you can find one, get the Adaptive M suspension.
The Xdrive wagon has BMW's base suspension and sits the highest. The Msport suspension or old "704" static suspension are unavailable on the wagons.
And pay for the lighting package! The halogen lights are terrible. Unbelievable that BMW stills puts halogen lights in their vehicles. Plus with halogens you do NOT get the classic signature of all BMW's.....iconic Round Angel eyes.
I have rear and front facing child seats in 2nd row. Make sure you put the front facing seat behind the drivers side! Or it gets tight.
I love my wagon, fast and fun to drive.....and still average 24-25 mpg in town.