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
#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.
#17 of 29 Re: 3 series versus 5 series [circlew]
Feb 13, 2007 (1:19 pm)
I think you are the specific person who first referred me to the Continental RFTs, so I owe you a personal thanks! Yes, they are definitely better than the Turanza EL42 RFTs.
Ironically, our X3 has EL42s, but they are GFTs.
Each has their own priorities and preferences- if I got a 5 series, it would be a 535Xi with AT (I really like that it's a 6 speed AT), fold down rear seats, satellite radio, and any audio upgrades available. Not sure about the SP option, as it doesn't change the suspension, but I would like to do a test sit in the optional seats.
#18 of 29 Re: 3 series versus 5 series [bruceomega]
Feb 14, 2007 (4:40 am)
I am glad I could help re: Continentals.
My neighbor just got a 2007 silver-grey metallic 530xi...looks good. You are correct about the xi SP not having sport tuned suspension. Rather, it is tuned for the x-drive. I still wonder what that is because the 330xi handles fantastic.
But, oh those seats! Worth it IMO! Whatever you decide, I wish you great fun and satisfaction.
Regarding 6AT, go for it. I am an automatic guy but can drive a stick. Since I've lived in the NY/NJ area all my life, traffic dictates (prefer leg workout in the gym). On my dream weekend car, it will be MT, so I can still talk to the really advanced enthusiasts and relate!
#19 of 29 Re: 3 series versus 5 series [circlew]
Feb 14, 2007 (8:19 am)
I've owned my share of manuals and RWDs in the past, and appreciate what each of those attributes has to offer. Its just that my own personal preferences now are AWD and AT.
If BMW did not have AWD, then I would have purchased a different brand.
If the BMW AT was not performance oriented, then I would not have opted for an AT. Not saying it has the same performance as a manual, but its definitely at the other end of the spectrum from the 4 speed AT I had in a 98 Accord V-6!
But this is just me. YMMV
On the BMW AT, I've noticed that my current 6 speed AT is more responsive, and comes closer to approximating a manual, than the 5 speed ATs in our current X3 and previous '01 330Xi. There are different engines and vehicle weights involved, but I definitely notice the difference the 6th gear makes.