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DLBedfordNH's 2017 BMW 340i xDrive

DLuDLu NHPosts: 94
edited May 2017 in BMW
With all the unflattering reviews of the F30 generation 3-series, I wrote it off as an overpriced bland-mobile. Recently, I decided to part with my 5-year playdate with the RX-8 R3. I bought the RX-8 new in 2012 (yes, it sat in a dealer lot for a year, but only accumulated 100 miles). It was my first fun car, and first manual car. The clutch uptake was quite abrupt (which I realize can be a good thing). Its free-revving rotary made up somewhat for the minuscule torque. Over 5 years and 24,000 miles, I had to deflood it once due to my own complete idiocy. Prior to that, and since the incident, I had been mindful to let it warm up. The gen-II apparently was not nearly as prone to flooding as the gen-I. All the other problems people complain about, such as lack of longevity, engine issues, having to put oil in it, etc were ridiculous complaints. This is not an Accord coupe, which is fun to drive, affordable, relatively quick, reliable, etc. Nope. This is a high-maintenance semi-exotic (it's a rotary!) that happen to have been priced low. Clearly I'm still too attached to it.

So, as the 3 kids are older now, we want to take them for more trips and don't feel we have to take the minivan for shorter trips anymore (getting rid of the stroller was such a relief!). I wanted a 5-passenger fun car. It's surprising how exponentially difficult it becomes to find a fun-to-drive car when you have 3 kids, as opposed to 2 (2 would have fit EASILY in the surprisingly roomy RX-8 back seats). The GT350, Camaro with its numerous variations, M2/M240 are all fantastic. The ATS-V barely qualifies as a 5-seater. One of my earliest choices was the S6.

The S6 was quick! Maybe, coming out of the RX-8, I was trying to compensate for the utter lack of torque by gravitating towards such a ridiculously quick car. It was exactly as one might expect from its reputation -- a German executive sedan, impeccably finished, solid as a tank, effortlessly quick, but never stirs up any emotion. I then considered the GS-F, but it lists for $88k and scared me away. MT gave the GS350 FSport glowing reviews, whereas C&D lambasted it. I side with C&D; its driving characteristics were too much like our 8-year-old G37. After driving it, I felt like I'd end up trading it in to end up with almost the same car, and only getting a couple of new iPads integrated into it for an extra $45k. The Giulia just came out, and it seems to has already been living up to its horrible reputation for poor quality and poor reliability. It's not a fun car if it's sitting in the shop for half of its existence. The CTS-V is really a $90k-$100k car -- way out of my league! The 340i felt like it was almost as good as an S6 in most respects, but the S6 gets no discounts in New England, while a stick 340i found no love for so long that I got a juicy discount.

The suspension, with the M Sport package, is probably the most fantastic part of this car. It still has that BMW magic. It soaks up bumps better than the G37, yet seems to corner as flat as the RX-8 R3, which was helped by its Bilstein dampers. I leave it in "comfort" at all times now.

After about 500 miles, I am getting used to the steering. It's reasonably accurate and quick, so I am enjoying it more. As many owners have noticed on the forums, the Sport mode only firms up the steering effort and nothing else. Since the BMW starts up returning to the "comfort" as the default mode, it really is not worth the effort to turn to "Sport." I am still annoyed that I have to occasionally make little steering adjustments during a constant-radius wide turn. C&D commented that the new 7 series is even worse. Every single Mazda (Protege, 2 generations of the Mazda6, the RX-8, a 2016 CX-9) that I have driven have better steering. Newer Mazdas with electric steering have poor feedback, but feel more natural than the 340, even from the very first test drive. The steering seems to improve at very high speeds though. Maybe that's the problem with getting a German car, bred for the Autobahn, to drive on American roads.

At this point, I would still get the 340, if I had to do it all over again. Its unique blend of size, drivetrain, chassis, luxury, price, and availability of manual fits my needs very well.

Comments

  • DLuDLu NHPosts: 94
  • kyfdxkyfdx Posts: 130,385
    Nice!

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    Edmunds Moderator

  • DLuDLu NHPosts: 94
    Update: I find that the hard plastic against the right knee to be unacceptably hard. During spirited driving, the discomfort is really distracting. BMW has seriously lost its way with the 3 series.
  • DLuDLu NHPosts: 94

    Got these bad boys for the winter. Went down a size to 18. Day 1 driving: ride quality is the same (still good but not much softer on the higher profile tires). However, the numb as #*@% steering is much worse. Oh well.
  • kyfdxkyfdx Posts: 130,385
    Those look good for winter wheels. I run 17" instead of 18" on my E46 in the winter.

    Did you get a good deal? Be sure to come back and share!

    Edmunds Moderator

  • DLuDLu NHPosts: 94
    Update: snow helps mask the terrible steering. On dry roads, the steering is just ridiculous. With winter tires on, the Sienna is actually a little more natural and linear when it comes to steering. "Sport" setting just accentuates the large dead zone in the steering. BMW, please offer a recalibration option for owners who want some -- even a TINY bit -- of that old Ultimate Driving Machine magic back!
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