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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: 8,353
    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: 8,353
    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: 27,623
    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: 8,353
    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: 8,353
    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: 8,353
    ...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: 8,353
    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.
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