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BMW 330i e90 M-Sport 2007 - Review

35 posts in this topic

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Intro

For the past nine years I’ve had a company car, the choice of car was sometimes limited others it was bound by the maximum the company would allow me to spend per month but by far the biggest thing to think about was the tax I would have to pay. So this is only the second car that I’ve ever bought for myself; So what did I want? Well I wanted it to be quick, refined, reliable oh and have some toys on it but above all I wanted it to be great to drive.

So with this in mind I went for a few test drives. So what other cars was I thinking of, well the Audi A4 was about to be changed so that was out and I’d already had one as a company car and wasn’t impressed, I’d just come out of an Audi A3 2.0 T FSI Sportback and I didn’t fancy a Merc or at least not when many of the new C weren’t out yet. So what was on the list ? Well first of all I didn’t want anything too big so A6 / BMW 5 Series were out for a start so I had a look at the Audi S3 instead. It’s a cracking car but I just couldn’t justify spending 30k on an S3 that looked a little to similar to the rest of the range despite the fact that it was bloody quick, you can find my Audi S3 Mini Review here. I had a quick go in a Lexus IS250, nice car but sporting or quick it certainly wasn’t add to that the fact that the car had a drink problem and would have been in the top rate of tax it got the boot. So I looked at BMW or rather to be honest they were fairly high up the list already after a drive at the Rockingham 3 Series launch event, review here.

So off I went to my local dealer Williams BMW who as it happened had the exact model / spec combo I wanted in and at a cracking price. So after a great test drive and a bit of negotiating the deal was done. I got a nearly new 330i M-sport that ticks all of the boxes above and then some……..

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Looks

Well to my eyes I think it looks great, but then I’m biased. Its certainly not a boring looking car that’s for certain. The front looks nicely aggressive and I love the sharp lines without it going OTT. The rear could be better but on the M-Sport it’s certainly better than the basic shape. The wheels nicely fill the arches and it certainly doesn’t look like it needs bigger alloys, one thing BMW always seems to get right. It may be one of Bangles more tame designs and it doesn’t work everywhere but it certainly a good looking car to my eyes. I’d certainly be interested to see what it looks like side by side with the new A4.

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Interior

Well this is the controversial one for many, what with iDrive and the none driver focused dashboard and I can understand why people don’t like it. When I first sat in the car a few years ago I have to say I wasn’t impressed either and its not the best aspect of the car or at least it isn’t in the standard car. However add in the iDrive and full Satnav and it does start to work. No longer does it look quite so boring which is part of the reason that I went for a sat-nav equipped car.

In use the interior is first class as is the iDrive or at least most of the time it is. When its started up and settled down it works a treat. I guess its like a PC if you try and play with it before its ready it just runs slowly. The best feature of the interior / iDrive is the voice recognition. It works a treat and makes controlling elements of the car soooo much easier. You can get the screen onto the map or list the last 8 people you called with a single command, the list of commands fills a full A4 sheet and then some. If you tried to do the same using the iDrive control things aren’t so easy. Some of the menu’s aren’t the most intuitive, it took me a while to figure out how to display POI’s on the maps for a start I’m sure it should be more intuitive at times.

The sat-nav doesn’t do full postcode searches which in this day and age I think is appalling add to that they will try and charge you for each quarterly update they really should try harder. Where are the warn near POI type features the likes of a Tomtom could do years ago, come on BMW try harder and get an updated out that also includes full postcode searches. Its not terrible don’t get me wrong but if I was buying new at 2k a pop I’d expect far better. It all looks nice at night as well but I’d liked the dials a bit more in the Audi they looked a little clearer rather than them being a constant orange in the BMW.

The standard fit stereo isn’t great but its certainly good enough to be left for now at least. Tweak it a bit and it actually delivers a pretty good sound that actually has better base response than the BOSE in my old A3. In fact some music sounds brilliant and very clear but then the next track might sound poor. It plays MP3 cd’s well although I can’t get it to random the entire disk and keep doing it, it only does one track then plays the list to the end, the AUX is good maybe next time I will look at one with better ipod integration. I would have liked one of the upgraded hifi options but they are very hard to find on the used market.

The seats are stunning, I can drive for hours and nothing goes to sleep or feels numb. They also manage to hold you in tightly when I’m out having fun on the twisty bits, its nice to be able to adjust the side bolsters so they hold you in just the right amount. They move in just about every direction and the steering wheel also adjusts for reach and rake. Needless to say the driving position for me is as good as its been in any car I’ve ever driven.

One more thing the steering wheel, its great. Small in circumference but junky in feel, considering it’s the item you hold the most in the car its also one of the best parts of the interior with all the buttons close to hand as well.

Engine / transmission

Just thinking about what it does and how it goes about doing it makes me smile and I’m not even in the car. Its stunning, yes there are far quicker cars out there and a lot slower. But for a 3.0 litre engine it’s a peach and has won many awards and rightly so.

At tick-over it you can just about hear it giving a nice low purr before the real work starts. The car is fitted with a 6 speed auto as after having the DSG Sportback I quite fancied staying with an auto, the roads aren’t getting any quieter and I find it far more relaxing when the going is slow. When doing normal town driving the gearbox just blends into the back ground, you never feel any changes or sometimes hear them either.

The biggest thing I’ve found with the car engine wise is how quiet it can be when cruising or at low speed. I’ve driven every Lexus LS since they come out and its eary how similar the car feels doing town driving. With plenty of torque and more refinement that I would expect from a smaller BMW if I’m honest it’s the biggest surprise of the car. Its not totally Lexus silent thankfully the engine has a deep warble to it low down in the rev range, its still always there but it has a similarly relaxed character when you don’t want to thrash about. But then that’s only half the story.

Slip it into sport or put it in manual mode and the car completely changes character. In first and second gear the performance to most things on the road is comical and the traction it can generate is amazing. I forgot just how much I must have had to regulate the throttle in the FWD Sportback to not loose traction, not I can plant the throttle and it just goes, well in the dry at least. It easily feels as secure as Quattro equipped car but more of that later. As the engine revs rise the engine gets more musical, the six cylinders sing there way to the redline, this was the noise I’d been missing. In the last few thousand revs the engine gets even sweeter whilst also developing a hard sporty edge to the note and just feels unburstable like the rev limiter stopping it rise is a kill joy. Gear changes in sport aren’t DSG quick but they aren’t that far behind, several people have commented on how quick it changes compared to most autos and I’d have to agree I’m certainly happy with it over a manual. Its just a joy to kick down to listen to the engine shoot to the redline before it does it again in the next gear.

Yes if you want more performance go for a 335i or an M3 but for me they would just frustrate me, as it is the number of times I can even extract the full performance from the car these days is limited at best. I’m getting a constant 28.8 mpg out of it that to me is stunning, my Sportback went back with an overall average of 30.4, considering it’s a slushy auto and not DSG and it’s a bigger and more powerful car I’d say that’s a result and it’s a band F car so I don’t need to give Gordon more money than I need to either.

Chassis

Now I’ve only been out for a couple of play sessions so far so my experience of pushing things isn’t that comprehensive as yet, nor would I push things too hard on the road either. Now firstly lets get the ride / runflats debate out of the way. At very low speeds going over small car park bumps its not good, it has little or no give at all which I think is down to the runflats. Its got Michelin Pilot Sport Zero Pressures on which I understand are better than most. But that’s it the bad bits are over except for one strange little trait, when it goes over cats eyes when cornering the rear does twitch a little I think a part of the same issue as the first.

But the rest of it is great ride wise, once your under way it rides very well indeed, at motorway speeds its fantastic soaking up the bumps in the suspension rather than the tyres doing the work, long journeys are relaxing for a car with such a low profile tyre in my opinion. My car is an 07 spec which I understand has some revisions from the early cars, either way its great riding car, not super smooth don’t get me wrong but far better than I expected and not brittle like some of the rivals I’ve driven.

So what’s it like round the twisty bits then, great it really is. The best bit being the steering. Its so easy to place the car on the road and feel the balance of the car, it feels so light on its feet, this is a world away from the A4’s that I’ve driven. I’ve not had the back end kick out or feel insecure at all even in the wet, I’ve no idea if that’s the ESP being very clever of the chassis / grip being so good but either way it feels a very secure car to drive quickly.

Looking at the back of the EVO magazine’s circuit times seems to prove this, Its quicker than a 130i that should handle better, only 0.05 of a second slower than a current M5 to and faster than the more powerful and smaller Audi S3. It just manages to bring a smile to your face whether you are on maximum attack or trying to be smooth it feels very well balanced.

It feels very stable round fast motorway approach bends as well, feeling far more secure at 10 or 15mph faster than I would take them in the Sportback. Its not perfect in every department and maybe replacing the runflats would make it that little bit better, who knows.

Features / Equipment.

I choose the car / spec level that had plenty of kit in it, I’d have liked it to have heated and electric seats but hey its not easy to find a BMW of this spec for the right price let alone be choosy about the exact kit levels. For me it has a lot more kit than many rivals as standard except Lexus obviously, other manufactures should take note.

Exterior Light Package - Love the lights under the handles looks great at night.

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IDrive / Sat-nav - Its not perfect by any stretch of the imagination but then if you like gadgets its great. It has loads of features to change just about everything. How long you want the lights on when you get out, how you want the lights to react to darkness, checking the oil (it has no dipstick), telling you how long you have got till the brakes need changing the list goes on. I can imagine them coming up with all these things in Germany making more and more menus. On the sat-nav side I do like the TMC functionality but never sure if the route it is choosing is the best. The rear parking sensors show a nice pretty picture when reversing shame it has no camera.

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Lemon Leather – Every time I get in the car it smells nice with the leather breathing into the cabin. It seems a good quality and hasn’t got any marks on it yet but give it time hey.

Voice Recognition – As already mentioned it’s a must if you go for iDrive. It makes the system far safer to use and far more fun as well and it works.

Bluetooth – Integrates well with the iDrive and voice, its easy to recall names and see the status of the reception and what the phone is doing at a glance all the time. Not sure how I can get any of the advanced features working yet or how much it costs, plenty of time to figure that out. Making and receiving a call is a doodle and it sounds good, I just leave my phone in my pocket and it connects when I get in every time.

Overall

Well it ticks all the boxes that I want from a car, its not perfect but what cars are, they are all full of compromise. But for the noise it makes, the way it feels when your going slow or when driving it at full chat its amazing. Even my other half has commented on how nice it is compared with the Sportback, I guess it should be as well with a list price over 10k more but then getting it nearly new I haven’t taken that early deprecation hit you seem to get on new cars these days.

For me its by far and away the best car I’ve ever had, it brings a smile to my face on every journey what more could I ask for in a car, result.

If anyone has any questions let me know, Full picture gallery here. I'll post some pictures of the interior when I get them off the camera. 169144-ok.gif

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....Excellent review 169144-ok.gif. Glad you get that smile on your face every journey.

Safe Journeys 169144-ok.gif

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I drive it in a more relaxed manner than anything else I've driven almost. Don't feel I have anything to prove and my daily commute rarely allows me to press on, so its sit back and enjoy the drive. Safetly. 169144-ok.gif

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The BMW SatNav system is shocking.

I find iDrive fine overall, other than it's slowness. You gain confidence in it with time and the things you might struggle to find tend to be the things you'd seldom use in my opinion. I'm not convinced it's the way to go in the future, but for the mass of configurable options I can't see how else they could do it. I'd prefer a different solution, but ultimately it works well and would perhaps be much better if they put more than a 166mhz CPU behind the scenes.

BMW standard Business stereo's are pants. I opted for the HiFi upgrade on the 6 and it improves it dramatically, but it's still not up there with some of the higher Audi systems. I have no complaints though as I'm an infrequent listener of music and the HiFi upgrade gave me the extra I needed.

The leather will colour badly if you wear new jeans, but it is very durable and it'll clean up very quickly with a swift wipe of a cotton cloth and a leather cleaning solution. That said, I still think BMW leather is poor by comparison to Audi. BMW will tell you it wears much better, and a few reports seem to indicate that to be true, but I still think the cars should have a less stippled leather with durability to boot.

In terms of the E90 3-series being a Chris Bangle design, well it isn't. He signed it off as Head of Design for BMW Group, but had already been replaced as Chief Designer for BMW by Adrian Van Hooydonk - who was primarily responsible for the design of the E90 3-series and, the reason I know this, the E63 6-series.

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[ QUOTE ]

I’d have liked it to have heated and electric seats

[/ QUOTE ]

It sounds like a very nice and well specified car, but I've only just noticed the above comment and I'm really surprised that it doesn't have the heated/electric seats. That's very unusual indeed in my experience, especially when they've added SatNav Pro and gone for the M Sport variant. Perhaps even moreso when it's a 330, not a 318,320d etc.

If you don't swap drivers much then I guess you won't miss the electric adjustment. The heated seats are a godsend though, because jesus does that leather get coooooold in winter!

Was the car owned by a company previously? Because I know they'll often spec SatNav and leather but leave other bits off that a private customer would probably put on (i.e. the heated seats when ordering leather).

As you say, fitting the price range is all important and it sounds very nice.

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hey mate - nice car and a great review. I have had my 320d M-Sport Touring for a little over 4 months / 10k miles now and love it to bits. Are you bringing to the Buxton meet??

I realy didnt get on with the iDrive at all and rarely use sat-nav anyway - not a patch on Audi's in my opinion - so didnt want to pay for it! For me, it's big change from the Megane F1!! grin.gif

Enjoy - PS, they handle very well on the limit. Turn the traction off as far as it will go (over 5 second button push) and its a hoot to drive! cool.gif

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I most certainly will be bringing it to the Buxton meet. 169144-ok.gif If I was ordering new I'd think twice about spending the extra pennies, however getting the car second hand has take most of the initial hit out of the car.

On the spec side of things, its an ex-BMW corporate car as just about 90% of the 330i's I found seem to be. I could have got a car with a better spec but it was older and cost more and wasn't an 07 model so I didn't go for it.

More than happy with the spec / toys on the car as it is, where do you stop needing those little extras. Its a major reason why I didn't want to buy new and that IMO a Lexus new can be a far better bet depreciation wise. I wouldn't want to take the hit this car has had before I got it for all the extras etc. beerchug.gif

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[ QUOTE ]

Enjoy - PS, they handle very well on the limit. Turn the traction off as far as it will go (over 5 second button push) and its a hoot to drive! cool.gif

[/ QUOTE ]

Just noticed this. Yeah it does keep the power under control if you do plant the throttle comming out of a side turning. You still accelerate at a fair old rate but its not the normal warp factor.

Might turn it off and have a play soon. 169144-ok.gif

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I'd advise against that unless it's very dry, you know the road very well, and you're very confident of your driving ability.

Woppum turned the traction off in his R32 apparently....

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Having had the chance to see how good the ESP system is on the BMW to be honest I will probably always leave it on you never know what's around the next bend.

I've not felt it at all when pressing on, only today as it happens when I came out of a junction. I didn't slip the wheels just rained in the power and then shot me off down the road.

When you can go put your foot flat to the floor whilst turning the wheel going round in a circle (and its wet) and the car still continues round and round without so much as changing its line at all or even a hint of spinning out its deeply impressive. 169144-ok.gif

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Very good review and a nice car. I did consider the Le Mans Blue when specc'ing my car up, but the Sparkling Graphite (v. similar to Audi Dolphin Grey) won me over in the end.

The M Sport E90's certainly are great to drive, even my comparatively low powered (170) 320D really goes and is incredibly smooth and quiet for a 4 cylinder diesel - really makes the VAG TDi's sound and feel very agricultural!

The Sat-Nav isn't as good as the Audi RNSE system though, the mapping isn't quite as clear and it doesn't have the Audi's neat choice of 3 different routes etc. The TMC on the BMW is much better though, with the warnings and detail screen very useful - although it doesn't always tell the truth...... I have to say though that having been in various VW's with the CD SatNav, the BMW system is much better than these.

The run-flats do give a hard ride, although grip from my Bridgestone Potenza's is very good wet or dry. They're blo*dy expensive though, I had a new 255 rear the other day and it was £187 fitted and only BMW dealers seem to carry them on stock, everywhere else has to order them in.

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[ QUOTE ]

Very good review and a nice car. I did consider the Le Mans Blue when specc'ing my car up, but the Sparkling Graphite (v. similar to Audi Dolphin Grey) won me over in the end.

The M Sport E90's certainly are great to drive, even my comparatively low powered (170) 320D really goes and is incredibly smooth and quiet for a 4 cylinder diesel - really makes the VAG TDi's sound and feel very agricultural!

The Sat-Nav isn't as good as the Audi RNSE system though, the mapping isn't quite as clear and it doesn't have the Audi's neat choice of 3 different routes etc. The TMC on the BMW is much better though, with the warnings and detail screen very useful - although it doesn't always tell the truth...... I have to say though that having been in various VW's with the CD SatNav, the BMW system is much better than these.

The run-flats do give a hard ride, although grip from my Bridgestone Potenza's is very good wet or dry. They're blo*dy expensive though, I had a new 255 rear the other day and it was £187 fitted and only BMW dealers seem to carry them on stock, everywhere else has to order them in.

[/ QUOTE ]

That 2.0 litre diesel really is a cracking engine, ive got it in the 520d. The other week at 5am ish i briefly set the cruise at 130 kmh on the M6 toll, it just pulls! It really shifts the cars weight whilst delivering mpg in the 40's. I can only imagine what the 535d is like!

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Yeah I know what you mean about the sat-nav. Its great to look at, not sure about some of the routes it takes either and its a shame it doesn't do the full postcode support.

I wonder if future maps / updates will help. I've got 07-01 disks for mine but I think later ones are out. If full postcode search was added and warn near POI so that speed cameras could be included it would be excellent. Fingers crossed hey.

Its all the other features on the iDrive that make it so good. I wish my other half did what she was told by command. grin.gif

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The routes it takes (wait until you've had it a good while) will infuriate and anger you. It's utter garbage. If it wasn't for the fact that it's an almost essential item on certain cars in residual respects, I'd use a third party device.

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I've tried it back to back with the tomtom and they aren't that different. Yes the BMW on a couple of occasions tried to go a bit of a strange way but it wasn't terrible. You get differences between different tomtom's due to them using different maps, none are perfect.

I wish there as more TMC data being collected so it was even more accurate for more roads, I guess it will be in the future. smile.gif

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The most irritating aspect of it, in my opinion, is actually the POI's - particularly fuel stations. In my experience it is notoriously unreliable. In Scotland, earlier this year, on Q2/06 DVD, it took me to no less than 3 fuel stations...that didn't exist, and one of them never had done! This was witnessed, embarassingly, by 5 other vehicles following me to get fuel. yelrotflmao.gif

Perhaps more worryingly, or pleasingly for some, it attempted to get me to cross a swift flowing river at the end of an undriveable road, about 20-30ft deep I'd say...when the bridge has gone about 20 years ago.yelrotflmao.gif

I made a human brain invoked decision not to follow the 'Computer says YES' instruction on this occasion.

The integration features are nice, and TMC is indeed very good on it. The display is top notch. My major gripe is the input. It's too slow, too fiddly and as you mentioned the lack of postcode suffix is ridiculous.

Unfortunately, I was told the latter will not be changed until BMW do a complete overhaul of the SatNav systems. That's disappointing.

I'll give them credit for one thing though - the Journey Computer on SatNav Pro is fantastic. The MPG calculations (I have an obsession with checking them manually) are incredibly accurate.

I'm still a bit miffed that the clouds don't move in Perspective View though...grin.gif

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I wonder if they've made some improvements since your version? Mine's got the 07-02 disc and doesn't seem to exhibit many of the foibles that you've described - that said it's not as good as the Audi system as I said elsewhere. On one occasion it has tried to route me through Nottingham rather than round it, but then it seemed to "learn" that and has never tried to do so again (and it's a route I do several times a week). The POI's seem to be improved on this version as well, but you're right about the postcode search - although the Audi system had that problem as well. The TMC aspect is far superior to the Audi version though, as is the Dynamic routing option.

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No, the disc you describe is no different to mine in functionality - as I've been to the dealers this morning and asked them (was actually there for something else).

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The maps and functionality improve with each version. I've tried a newer disk than I originally got and have had improvements, for example the postcode functionality improved but still isn't full 6 digit. 169144-ok.gif

You can also download the ISO's of the disk with speed cameras as well. It doesn't warn near them but they appear on the map. You can download newer disks and rip them to a DVD but you need to pay for the original to be legit.

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Sorry, but that's not true. Not with every version, far from it.

The maps do, but the functionality doesn't always follow suit - and it hasn't in the version Tizzy quotes and the version in mine.

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grin.gif You make me laugh.

Thats not exactly what I said. It does improve on either maps or functionality then, but it obviously changes. I certainly found a difference in the two I've tried.

If anyone is still on 06 disks, 07 will provide an improvement of some sort or other. tongue.gif

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[ QUOTE ]

grin.gif You make me laugh.

Thats not exactly what I said.

[/ QUOTE ]

Isn't it?

[ QUOTE ]

The maps and functionality improve with each version

[/ QUOTE ]

Odd, looks like it to me. yelrotflmao.gif

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They do but maybe more of one than the other or one improves and not the other.

Or do they put a new number on it and change nothing? smashfreakB.gif

/* Pedantic mode off.

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No, they change the maps each time, but not always the functionality.....you did infer they changed both. smile.gif

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