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BMW 3-Series - AWD or RWD?

cbanctcbanct Posts: 17
The AWD BMW 335xi is faster from 0 to 60 mph than the RWD 335i. This is probably due to better traction. At higher speeds the 335i is probably faster in acceleration as it weighs about 200 pounds less. In contrast, the 328xi is slower from 0 to 60 mph than the 328i.
Before seeing these statistics, my mind was made up on getting the 335i in the future. At 6500 feet above sea level where I live snow falls occasionally in the winter but lasts at most 1 to 2 days. The 335xi with summer tires may be still usable during the winter without changing to winter tires.
My concern is that BMW does not seem to approach AWD like for instance Porsche. It is designed less for performance and more for convenience.
You cannot get the 335xi with the sports suspension or paddle shifters that are available in the 335i. I have driven both vehicles and did not notice a difference. However, in a controlled environment like a track, the AWD 335xi may be easier to drive fast than the 335i in the hands of a novice.
The mileage on the highway is 2 mpg less in the 335xi than the 335i, but the faster 0 to 60 times in the 335xi makes for an interesting decision.
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Comments

  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    "The 335xi with summer tires may be still usable during the winter without changing to winter tires."

    Not a chance. Summer tires have virtually no grip in the winter time, especially in the snow. True, you might be able to get'er going with AWD and summer tires, but stopping and turning abilities will be all but non-existant. Suffice to say, if you try to drive that car in the snow, it's not a matter of "if" but a matter of "when" you'll wreck it. Do yourself a favor and get the 335i SP and then with the money saved buy yourself a second set of winter wheels and tires.

    Best Regards,
    Shipo
  • bruceomegabruceomega Posts: 250
    cbanct,

    I'll second what Shipo said about not driving in the snow with summer tires on an AWD 3 series. I had an '01 330xi that had new summer performance tires on it when I purchasd the car used. I quickly learned at first snowfall that the car with those tires does not do well in the snow!

    My current car, an '06 330xi, has all season tires and it works very well in the snow.

    Thanks
    Bruce
  • cbanctcbanct Posts: 17
    Point taken Shipo and Bruce.

    What about the other performance factors mentioned. Yes, the 335xi is two thousand more, but is the better acceleration and possible handling benefits worth it in the 335xi. What made you Bruce pick the 330xi which is slower than the 330i ?
    Thanks.

    cbanct
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    While the "xi" may be faster to sixty, my bet is that it is so for the first twenty feet or so, and only for a race track clutch dropping start. Once the two cars get rolling, the extra weight of the "xi" will work against it.

    As I was writing the above statement another thought occured to me. Most likely the BMW numbers were gotten by base model vehicles, meaning that there were 225 series all-season tires mounted at all four corners. Given the extra bite offered by the SP tires (both wider and grippier rubber), my bet is that the 335i will be the quicker of the two to sixty.

    Regardless, you most likely won't ever be subjecting your car to such abuse and as such, the "i" will be faster in all "normal" driving environments.

    In the end, were I in your shoes, I'd opt for the 335i SP and buy a second set of winter wheels and tires.

    Best Regards,
    Shipo
  • circlewcirclew Posts: 8,380
    I won't chime in because I have my own experience with the x-drive grip with the lesser HP (330) and the SP vs. non-SP suspension performance vs. the 330i.

    But, here goes anyway!!

    I reserve comment on the 335xi vs the 335i until I experience the two for myself.

    I can only submit that the AWD technology is awesome in the grip department. All others must experience the performance differential DESPITE the weight issue for themselves.

    I have learned much on this forum regarding this class-leading driving performance that BMW owns by the personal experience of much more capable owners. I am here to tell you that irrespective of past 3'er capability, the x-drive does not detract from the experience from my view. It really is great fun for me.

    All I am able to do is convey the new x-drive capabilty from my own experience, as humble as that is. Outside of on-track testing, it is very hard to get this thing loose even on all-season rubber in typical spirited almost-legal driving.

    You would think the extra weight would help loose things up but the slight understeer into a turn is so easily controlled even with more juice before, at or after the apex. The x-drive is just beginning to show potential, IMHO.

    Also, despite the non-SP suspension tuning, I still feel that this suspension has something the 330i non-SP does not. It's REALLY tight!

    Regards,
    OW
  • bruceomegabruceomega Posts: 250
    cbanct,

    Just speaking for my own priorities and preferences, I chose AWD for better performance in adverse road conditions, all else being equal such as the same tires.

    I've never tried to justify my preference for AWD with it's performance in normal road conditions. I have noted several instances, like the one you referenced for the 0 - 60 times, where AWD can have a better metric than RWD, but I view those as discrete data points in the overall performance spectrum.

    I've been driving for many years. In the early days, I owned a variety of RWD cars and know how to drive them in the snow. But when I took up skiing, and was driving to mid-Atlantic ski resorts on the weekends, I switched to FWD. In my experience, FWD is better than RWD in the snow and ice (especially ice), again with everything else being equal.

    I then decided to try AWD as it seemed to offer the best of both worlds- better dry road performance than FWD and better snow and ice performance than RWD, all else being equal.

    My '01 330xi was my first AWD. Although it had the wrong tires for the snow, I found I could (at slow speeds) work the throttle and steering to make the car go in the snow and dance around a corner when needed, in a way I do not feel I could have done with RWD.

    I traded in the '01 for the '06 330xi, and have been very pleased with its performance in the snow and ice, and it's performance overall. However, I never compared the 330xi to the 330i.

    As an aside, I just ordered a new 5 series twin turbo. Like last time, I did not consider the RWD version and ordered the 535xi.

    Thanks
    Bruce
  • cbanctcbanct Posts: 17
    Thank you for the input Bruce, Circlew and Shipo. As you all may know, Shipo is a legend on these forums. Edmunds should give you some stock options !
    I will probably keep my 99 Passat 1.8T for winter driving. I still love the car even though it makes groans and moans from the suspension now.
    Shipo's point about the tires used in the 0 to 60 times could be true. Edmunds did 4.9 secs from 0 to 60 in a 335i auto withe the sports package and suspension in the comparison with the Lexus IS 350. BMW lists this time as 5.6 secs. That is a big difference.
    Enjoy your 535xi Bruce.

    cbanct
  • dan12dan12 Posts: 114
    I just saw this post and I was also trying to decide between a 335xi and a 335i. I live in Northern California but nowhere near snow, so I only need to worry about rain in the winter. I do go skiing a lot, but I will use my wife's SUV for that. I'm going from an AWD Jeep to a 335i though, so I had to consider the 335xi as well. But I guess the xi is not worth the money if I don't use it in snow. Right?

    Another question... I've never had a car like the 335i with the SP that has the summer performance tires. Do I need to be worried during the winter when it rains? Or will the grip be good enough? I noticed that there are no all-season tires for the 335i with SP unless I go with a GFT and put a spare in the trunk, which I really don't want to do.
  • circlewcirclew Posts: 8,380
    I drive the 330xi and consider the drive very stable in all weather conditions. It is interesting that I had a 335i loaner this past weekend and during the wet conditions, the traction control was working that day in the turns. The 335i has at least 60 horsepower more than I am used to and the 17 inch Continental All Weathers broke loose easily.

    To answer your question, you do not need the xi unless you are really nervous in wet conditions.

    As always, test them both and your personal experience will guide you.

    Regards,
    OW
  • dan12dan12 Posts: 114
    Thanks for the info. I am not terribly nervous in wet conditions, although I did manage to spin around the last RWD car I had. That car had all seasons but it was old and had no traction control. Plus I was much younger and I wasn't thinking.

    It's a little concerning that you were able to easily break loose the 335i with the 17 inch All Weathers. I wonder if the summer tires with ZSP will be even worse. I guess as long as the traction control keeps you on track, it's not a problem.
  • kyfdxkyfdx Posts: 29,199
    Good summer tires should be better in wet conditions than an all-season tire.

    The only issue will be cold weather. If you don't get snow, I'd assume you don't get icy roads, either? As long as the temperature is 40+ degrees, summer tires should be better than all-seasons, in all conditions.

    regards,
    kyfdx
    visiting host

    MODERATOR
    Prices Paid, Lease Questions, SUVs

  • circlewcirclew Posts: 8,380
    The traction and stability control will save you in most conditions.

    Summer tires are stickier (except in ice/snow) but wear faster than AWT.

    Unless you see a lot of ice and snow, 335i is all you need. If you get ZSP, I believe summer tires are included.

    Regards,
    OW
  • dan12dan12 Posts: 114
    Interesting. I thought summer tires would get less traction in wet conditions. It's good to know that it's the other way around.

    I don't see any ice or snow in the San Francisco Bay Area. I see it when I go skiing up in Tahoe, but I won't be taking the 335i up there. So I will stick with the 335i with ZSP in that case. Thanks a lot.
  • xeyexeye Posts: 162
    I've found an interesting comment from several other Bimmer owners in the Boston area. For anyone who's been to the Beacon Hill area, this comment will ring true. I'm sure this is not isolated to the New England region.

    I've met owners of several generations of RWD and AWD BMW vehicles who live on hills or have lengthy sloped driveways. The one consistent comment, after trading up to xi, is that they are delighted to be able to finally drive their xi's all the way up to their front doors instead of having to park the RWDs at the bottom of the driveway for a few months of the year simply because the traction is insufficient even with grippy snow tires.

    I can tell you that they are confirmed converts to the xi technology. Unless you are racing your vehicle, if your region has the potential for snow, even a little, go for the xi. The performance difference, small that it may be, will be well worth it.

    Consider this picture:

    Repeated trips through the cold wet snow carrying bags of groceries, kids, hockey equipment, etc, or...

    The heated seats keeping you toasty as you casually motor right to your front door.

    xeye - 335xi
  • circlewcirclew Posts: 8,380
    Small that it may not be...you need to get the SP for the performance edge, in my experience. The difference is slightly weighted steering feel, not loss of handling performance with the xeye!

    The MT is an edge slower in acceleration than the AT so power difference is a toss up.

    Rgards,
    OW
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    Hmmm, something doesn't ring true about that. I live at the end of a cul-de-sac in southern New Hampshire that requires me to climb two 8% grades to get home, and then there's my driveway with its 10% grade. My 530i with summer tires was worthless in even an eighth of an inch of snow, but with a set of decent winter tires mounted I never even once had an issue getting up any of the hills.

    The flip side of course is that several of my neighbors on the opposite side of our street have driveways that have grades in excess of 30%. True, my 530i couldn't climb them in the snow, but then, none of their AWD and winter tire equipped vehicles could climb them either.

    Best Regards,
    Shipo
  • circlewcirclew Posts: 8,380
    ...but then, none of their AWD and winter tire equipped vehicles could climb them either.

    I'll bet a 535xi could with AWT's!

    Regards,
    OW
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    No chance. Not even the A4 Quattros with winter tires can climb them.

    Best Regards,
    Shipo
  • circlewcirclew Posts: 8,380
    Then snow shoes it is!

    Regards,
    Ow
  • Dunno. I have been to the land of AWD in winter (Maine, Subaru WRX, LGT- both modified for more HP, torque, better handling and suspension.) It's dang tough to go back to 2 wheelers, either RWD or FWD and feel quite the same in any kind of adverse weather.
  • IME, AWD is a benefit in any kind of adverse weather (rain, snow, in between, and just wet road.) I've avoided 2 head on collisions on freeways (both cars going about 80 MPH in opposite directions) in my modified AWD WRX. I'm pretty sure the AWD saved me, scratchless, from both- one due to black ice, the other due to heavy rain and other car's hydroplaning. Don't think you "won't need" AWD- Ya, not until it's too late!
  • circlewcirclew Posts: 8,380
    I had one similar emergency maneuver in my 330xi when I had to accelerate and go lock/lock to avoid being hit in the side from a van making a left turn from the right lane of a two lane highway, no signal. I was lucky enough that there was no on-coming traffic at that instant because I was into the far lane on the other side of the double-yellow and was able to get back quick. Speed was around 30 MPH before the knucklehead turned in. Weather was bone dry.

    The car just did not let go on any tire and I avoided the collision. Not to say I could not have done it in RWD car but I will never know.

    Regards,
    OW
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    I highly doubt that you can prove that AWD saved you when compared to an otherwise similar RWD car with skid control and other modern electronics. You can believe it if you want, but I certainly don't.

    If you need to manuver, then leave the front wheel alone to do their job, namely to turn. Said another way, give me the option of either a 335i and winter tires or a 335xi with all seasons and I'll pick the former here in New England every time.

    Best Regards,
    Shipo
  • kdshapirokdshapiro Posts: 5,751
    There is clearly a division of opinion regarding AWD.

    Best - AWD with 4 snows.
    Better - AWD with good all seasons.
    OK - RWD with snows.
    Stinks- RWD with all seasons.

    My opinion is based on years of driving having tried each one of the above.
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    Based upon my experience up here in New Hampshire, I'd make a couple of minor changes to your list:

    Best - AWD with 4 snows.
    Better - RWD with snows.
    OK - AWD with good all seasons.
    Fair (especially if terrain is relatively flat) - RWD with all seasons.
    Sucketh - AWD with summer rubber.
    Sucketh much - RWD with summer rubber.

    Best Regards,
    Shipo
  • xeyexeye Posts: 162
    OK, my turn. This is bound to stimulate a response, especially from Shipo!

    Having learned how to drive in the worst conditions in Montreal (with all due respect, New Hampshire, while getting a lot of snow, is Disneyland when compared to crappy driving conditions in Montreal), I am qualified to offer the definitive tires for the given conditions.

    Best - AWD with 4 snows. AGREED
    Better - AWD with good all seasons. We'll see on the 335xi. I have the ContiProContact M&S. I'd rather have 4 snows, but I'll report honestly after deep snow, slush, ice.
    Better - RWD with snows. On ice only. I'd rather be in a wild fishtail on RWD snows than AWD.

    On snow? No Way.


    Fair (especially if terrain is relatively flat) - RWD with all seasons.
    Sucketh - AWD with summer rubber.
    Sucketh much - RWD with summer rubber.

    On another note, I need an opinion:

    After conversation with the Service Director of my sales dealership where I bought my 335xi, he could not find a technician who could explain why the 335xi does not get an oil cooler when the 335i does. He therefore, graciously, offered to finance one if I so choose. He agreed to my request to put it in writing on dealership letterhead.

    So far (~2100 miles), the car has behaved well, no overheating and the oil has been consistently below 250. Do I mess with something that isn't broken or go for the cooler and risk issues where there aren't any now? I don't race and my driving, although moderately "spirited", is not geared to attract attention, if you get my point.

    Still, I want the protection that a properly installed oil cooler would provide. Are there any issues with installing an oil cooler in less than racing conditions?

    Comments?

    xeye
  • fedlawmanfedlawman Posts: 3,118
    By finance, do you mean he'll pay for it? If so, then go for it. There is no down side to adding an extra oil cooler, and the benefits in engine life could be dramatic.

    BTW, I also learned how to drive in Montreal (DDO/Pointe Claire actually). My dad taught me in a 1979 Honda Civic 5-speed. I took my exam during a blizzard in a Chrysler K car (High School drivers ed car).
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    The problem I have with putting an all-season shod AWD car ahead of a winter tire shod RWD car is that the only category where the AWD car will outperform the RWD sibling is in acceleration. The RWD car will still accelerate moderately well, however, it will turn and stop WAY better than the AWD car given the greater bite of the winter tires.

    True story, shortly after putting the winter tires (Michelin Arctic-Alpins) on my 530i, we were in the midst of a twenty some inch snow fall with widely scattered power outages predicted. With between eight and ten heavily rutted inches of snow on the roads I headed out in the 530i to fetch gasoline for our generator. Once on the main road I passed a whole line of FWD cars struggling to climb a hill, not to mention a Crown Vic patrol car stuck in the ditch on the opposite side of the road. Once clear of those obstructions, I had clear sailing for the next couple of miles up the winding and hilly road, until I got slowed down by a line of 4WD SUVs that were fishtailing and/or sliding all over the place.

    If you haven't driven a late model BMW in the snow, deep snow even, with a set of good winter tires, you simply cannot imagine how stable winter driving can be.

    Best Regards,
    Shipo
  • xeyexeye Posts: 162
    Hi,

    Yes, I should have been clear. Either the dealership or BMW will pay for the cooler. I'm not sure which, but either way, it's not me. I guess my only concern is a botched job and making the current benign situation a nagging headache.

    I suppose I have to assume they'll do a proper job and decide solely on the merits of the cooler.

    xeye
  • kdshapirokdshapiro Posts: 5,751
    "The problem I have with putting an all-season shod AWD car ahead of a winter tire shod RWD car is that the only category where the AWD car will outperform the RWD sibling is in acceleration."

    I couldn't disagree more. In deep snow having 2 wheels push and 2 wheels pull, even without snows, provides better traction than having 2 wheels push.
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