Last post on Feb 14, 2007 at 1:57 PM
You are in the BMW 3-Series
What is this discussion about?
BMW 3 Series, BMW, Sedan
#7 of 29 Re: '06 330 vs '07 328 or 335 [habitat1]
Feb 12, 2007 (5:21 am)
"If you really are a "driving enthusiast", the manual transmission is the only way to go with the 3 or even the 5. If you don't find the automatic transmission offensive to your driving preferences, that you really shouldn't find the non-sport package suspension and standard wheels and tires offensive either. It's still better than 90% of the other vehicles out there in terms of handling and it will save you a lot in future tire replacement."
I got it kind of backwards on my first BMW. Given the fact that I bent 5 BBS wheels on my 1995 Passat due to the crappy NYC metro area roads, I didn't really want to tempt my fate when I ordered my 1999 328i back in the fall of 1998. That car was ordered with Xenon headlamps, HK audio system, PP and a 5-Speed gearbox. As the handling was the best of any car I'd ever had, errr, except maybe my 1979 Scirocco, it was certainly good enough. Good enough that is until I swapped cars with another TownHaller for a couple of days. He had (still has I think) a 2001 325i SP 5-Speed, and while I missed the torque of the 2.8 liter mill in my car, I fell in love with the SP in his. This happened a few months before I ordered my 530i, and needless to say, I ordered that one with both the 5-Speed and the SP. Can you say "nirvana"? Sure, I knew you could.
#8 of 29 Re: '06 330 vs '07 328 or 335 [shipo]
Feb 12, 2007 (6:22 am)
I also had a '99 (323i 5sp) and an '02 530i 5sp - both great cars, but neither had the SP. I've had people say "you haven't driven a real BMW until you've driven one with the SP, and I've had others say no BMW needs a SP, as they're great drivers in base form". The 335i and upcoming 535i have me intrigued, though I like the 3's looks better, I just don't think I can live with the small size (kids and their stuff...). The problem with testing a SP-equipped BMW, especially the 5, is that dealers rarely have any 6-sp versions - it seems you have to order one to drive one (which I did with my '02). I'm wondering how fun the paddles would be on the sp trannies.
It sounds like you're squarely in the camp that says go with SP and you won't be disappointed, correct? I'm in upstate NY and put snows on all 4, so I haven't yet bought in to the xi requirement.
#9 of 29 Re: '06 330 vs '07 328 or 335 [jobie]
Feb 12, 2007 (6:43 am)
"I also had a '99 (323i 5sp) and an '02 530i 5sp - both great cars..."
Great choices, I couldn't agree more.
"The problem with testing a SP-equipped BMW, especially the 5, is that dealers rarely have any 6-sp versions - it seems you have to order one to drive one (which I did with my '02). I'm wondering how fun the paddles would be on the sp trannies."
I was able to test a 5-Speed 1999 328i and a 5-Speed 1998 528i back in the fall of 1998. The only problem I had with the 5er was that the older engine felt significantly slower than the 1999 328i, so I opted for that car. Fast forward to late 2001 and I didn't even bother driving a 530i, I was sure it would be fast enough for my needs/wants/desires. In the end I ordered both cars (the 530i via the ED program) so that I wouldn't have to have "almost" the perfect car (for my perceived needs at the time).
"It sounds like you're squarely in the camp that says go with SP and you won't be disappointed, correct? I'm in upstate NY and put snows on all 4, so I haven't yet bought in to the xi requirement."
Yeah, I'm squarely in the SP camp, and then some. I live in southern New Hampshire, and area that is no stranger to deep snow either (my first winter with the 530i we got 114" of snow in our town) and as such I purchased a a separate set of winter tires for the 5er and had no problems at all.
The above said, if anything, I'm even more in the severely bigoted manual transmission camp than I am in the SP camp. No slushbox, SMG or even DSG(ish) tranny need apply, regardless of the number of gears, flippie thingies or no, for duty in any of my cars. Gimme three honest to God pedals under my dash or sell the car to somebody else.
Let us know how you make out. FWIW, Prestige BMW in Ramsey, NJ stocks (or used to stock) manual transmission equipped 5-Series cars. The salesman who sold me my 328i told me that literally 50% of their 3-Series cars and 25% of their 5-Series cars were sold with a manual gearbox. If you happen to be down in that neck of the woods, you might want to give them a try.
#10 of 29 Re: '06 330 vs '07 328 or 335 [shipo]
Feb 12, 2007 (12:11 pm)
As someone who has owned (and lived with) both the 3 series and 5 series sedans, can you provide your impressions on the differences between them (with comparable engines)?
I know the 5 series is a little larger, but the weight with the 6 cylinder is about the same. I curently own a 3 series and in the back of my mind have been toying with the idea of a 5 series.
My assumption is the 5 series is a little smoother, a little quieter, and a little less harsh, but a bit less agile and quick. Can you elaborate on this, especially on the degree of differences?
#11 of 29 Re: '06 330 vs '07 328 or 335 [bruceomega]
Feb 12, 2007 (3:24 pm)
Ohhh, this is a tough one.
In my case, given that the 328i had the regular suspension and 205 section width tires while my 530i had the SP with the 235 section width tires, the 5-Series was able to run away and hide from the smaller car in pretty much every driving dynamic. It had better acceleration, better braking, and better handling both at the limit and in the transients. The 3er on the other hand got better gas mileage (slightly, and in spite of the fact that the 5er was EPA rated higher, that said, both cars were able to exceed their EPA ratings), and had slightly better sight lines for driving in congested area (read NYC).
Interior wise, there wasn't much difference between the E46 and the E39 in leg room, however, the extra width of the 5-Series was both noticeable and quite appreciated by me and my family. The instrumentation and controls, for cars both were very good; however, there were two things that kind of pissed me off on the 328i that had been done much better on the 530i. The first was the thirty-seven degree OAT "ding", on the 3-Series, the display would change from whatever you had it set on to the temperature, and you then had to serially scroll through the various settings to get back to where you wanted it to be. This would of course happen EVERY damn time I started the car in colder weather. GRRRRR. On the 5-Series, there was enough extra display space between the straight ahead display and the radio display that the OAT, the clock and a few other things could all be displayed at the same time.
The second and somewhat less irritating thing was the climate control, I like it cold, my wife likes it hot. The E46 had only one zone while the E39 (and E60 and E90 IIRC) have dual zones. The other interior differences that I appreciated in the 5-Series all had to do with the SP seating, the SP steering wheel and the SP shifter so they they're not really relevant.
Relative to the current E90 3-Series and E60 5-Series, they are very close in weight (thanks to extensive use of aluminum in the 5er) and so their performance is very similar. That said, the extra width and leg room in the E60 is VERY noticeable. I haven't spent enough time with either car to be able to comment on their relative merits in the driving, handling and ergonomic departments, however, were it that I liked both cars equally well (I don't), there is one factor that would tip the scales in favor of the E60, at least for me. And what do you suppose that single factor is? Oddly enough it's a spare tire well. The E60 can accommodate a jack and a full sized (front) spare tire while the E90 doesn't even have room for a space-saver doughnut spare. Like RFTs or hate'em, having a spare tire is an extremely valuable bit of insurance in my mind.
The only other potential point vis-à-vis the two current models that I can think of is if you happen to be a hater of the iDrive system (personally I could care less either way, however, I probably wouldn't pay extra for it), the 3-Series can be had sans iDrive, not so the 5-Series. Oh, one more thing, metallic paint is "free" on the 5-Series.
Hmmm, looking back over this post, I'm not sure if I was much help. Sorry about that.
#12 of 29 Re: '06 330 vs '07 328 or 335 [bruceomega]
Feb 13, 2007 (4:27 am)
Having had (generally) the same the 2 vehicles as Shipo, I feel his assessment of the differences in the last generation 3 and 5 is spot-on. I can add a couple other comments - I felt that in the 3 you sit closer to the floor (almost ON the floor)- which for me became uncomfortable on long drives. With the old and new 5, I feel you sit higher off the floor which, again to me, is more comfortable. I remember reading somewhere that the interior of the current 3 is not much smaller than the old 5 - and I agree. The current 5 has much more space than the 3's and the old 5. Driving dynamics...haven't driven the current 3 yet, but I always felt the old 3 was more fun to drive, more athletic, and the 5's more composed but still fun, especially with the manual (and per Shipo, the SP).
Lastly I'm finding the new interiors more offensive than the exteriors, althought I have to admit the exteriors have grown on me. If it weren't for the great driving dynamics, I'd be looking hard elsewhere. I have to admit the freshened E-class in with the sport look (not really a SP) has caught my eye, but lack of a manual will probably keep me from getting serious. Hope this helps.
#13 of 29 3 series versus 5 series
Feb 13, 2007 (7:21 am)
Thank you both very much, your information is very helpful.
I currently have a 2006 330Xi. The primary reason I am looking at the 5 series is to eliminate what I call the "cringe factor"; i.e., not having to cringe in fear of a hard hit when driving on less than ideal road surfaces. My car rides and handles very well, but there are unavoidable rough spots on the roads in my area that can cause the car to feel like it has hit its limit.
Thanks to the information in this forum, I replaced the original Bridgestone RFTs with Continental RFTs, and that helped a lot. But there are still spots where the car can lose its composure. In contrast, our 2006 X3 may get bounced around in those same spots, but it does not lose its composure or suffer a hard hit. I would like that capability in a sedan.
#14 of 29 Re: 3 series versus 5 series [bruceomega]
Feb 13, 2007 (8:22 am)
Hmmm, the plot, she thickens. I'm thinking that a significant portion of the "feel" issue between your two cars has to do with the sidewall height of the tires. Consider the following:
2006 330xi: - 225/45 R17 --- Sidewall Height: ~3.95"
2006 530xi: - 225/50 R17 --- Sidewall Height: ~4.45"
2006 X3: ----- 235/55 R17 --- Sidewall Height: ~5.10"
As you can see, the 530xi doesn't quite split the difference between your two cars in terms of sidewall height (and ride compliance). Another thing to keep in mind, you 330xi is running RFTs, tires that are known for their non-compliance when encountering rough roads. I find myself wondering if simply mounting a set of GFTs on your car would solve many of your complaints.
#15 of 29 Re: 3 series versus 5 series [bruceomega]
Feb 13, 2007 (8:25 am)
I have the 2006 330xi and switched to the conti's as you may know. I love the difference but with only 3K miles, we will see as they wear.
I also agree the suspension damping is extremely tight and transmits the real bad bumps, well, really bad! But the handling, IMO, is better than the two 5'ers (2006 Non-SP) that I drove on both occasions for a couple of hundred miles. The ride however, was much better than my 3, as you would expect.
Go with your heart on the next one. I would guess a 535i-SP, 6MT could be your choice.
#16 of 29 Re: 3 series versus 5 series [shipo]
Feb 13, 2007 (1:01 pm)
Actually, our X3 has the (non sport package) 18" wheels and I think the tires are 50 series aspect ratio (Turanza EL42 GFTs), so that should be more like the 5 series. I know its a combination of factors, and I do believe the RFTs are a contributing factor to the hard hits. I've thought about GFTs, but so far nothing more than that.
There are other reasons that I would want the 5 series. Although not critical, they would be nice to have and could sway a decision. One is it could be an excuse to get the twin turbo engine (harder to justify trading for a 335Xi). Another is the extra room; my Mother-in-law, who spends about half the year with us, would better fit in the back seat and we wouldn't always have to take the X3. And at this stage in my life, I would appreciate the higher seating and easier ingress / egress.