a 2004 E46 320cd, 6sp manual, metallic black, dark tinted side windows and very dark rear quarters. It did have the rear window with a dark tint but took it off right away - looks a little chavvy to me and besides, makes it a lot easier to see out the back now! I also removed the 320cd badge (5 mins with a hair-dryer and a bottle of polish).
So, first impressions, obviously mostly good seeing as I ended up buying it! (BMW MK - Wayside - great service from those guys btw).
- The dealer (BMW Milton Keynes - 10/10)
- The cars abilty to seemingly morph from a coach whilst cruising on the motorway to a "sports" car on back roads.
- Nicely judged abs, traction and stabilty driver aids (*hmm yes, see below)
- Build quality
- Ergonomics, instrument/controls tactility (most of them)
- Ride quality/handling balance (um, see separate thread for handling!!)
- Seat Comfort
- Gearbox (3rd, 4th, 5th & 6th) very nicely spaced and smooth shift
- Engine smoothness
- Engine power delivery
- Good/very good mpg (averaging 45-55mpg) mostly motorway @ 55-85mph
- Visibility (having removed the rear window tint)
- Auto dimming rear view (1st time I've experienced this - makes night driving easier).
- LED rear lights (very bright - esp, the brake light; seems to make people leave more of a gap/brake harder when I brake?)
- Windscreen wipers (smooth action - nice!)
- Air con/heating (on the whole - although it does seem to heat my feet rather more than I'd like on auto everything)
- The first and by far the most significant gripe - 1st gear is often very difficult to engage smoothly (as is reverse) - although I'm told on good authority that an oil change can improve this.
- 1st gear is very, very short (seeing as it is quite easy to pull away in 2nd a slightly taller 1st would be better - perhaps)
- ...although crawling on tick-over in 1st is a tad too fast in traffic (hmmm)
- Changing from 1st to 2nd can be less than "oiled" unless perfectly timed
- Stereo (basic "business" model) is a bit below expectations for the car / no i-pod aux inputs
- Occasional wind noise from door widows
- No cup holders (at all?! - "optional extra"! what a load of balls!)
- Seat adjustments (I've got the "flappy lever" type of adjustment - a rotary knob for inclining the backrest would be far better.
- Pedal position - I've seen lots of moans about the "offset" however I'd never noticed until I read other people mention it! No the problem I have is that the clutch pedal is set too high/close in comparison to the throttle which is too low/far away in comparison.
- Heating element in rear window is highly visible at night (when following cars lights shine on it)
- Adjustment of seat backrest is not incremental enough - what's wrong with a rotary knob?
- Although the steering is precise, it is very slow given the sporting attitude of the car in general
On the whole then a very comfortable, "quick", economical, relaxing & sporty car that should provide 100's of thousands of motoring pleasure. Some road testers would have you believe that the car is seemingly perfect. It isn't - although undoubtedly better than many non-german cars, amongst its countries other offerings it is average. What it aims to be is what it is, a well put together, nice to drive sporty car. There are many things above that really should be addressed but I think (probably) that as soon as I sat in it my expectations rose! In short, despite some of the "issues" it is a great car to own and drive ...and it looks quite tasty, in an understated way of course. (read this mr passat driver with your masseeve chrome grille thing that is frankly hideous!!).
*I would consider myself as a competent driver (who doesn't!) who has owned several rear wheel cars and have been able to drift/get the back out under control on a few of them.
...that all said, the other day I was about to try turning off the stability. I refrained and just played whilst it was left on. Quite nice - the back would kick out a couple of inches requiring a touch of opposite lock exiting wet roundabouts and the stability light flickering. (I'd previously played like this in a Merc E class and was never ever able to make it do anything nasty with the stability on). Today however, mamma mamma! Stability on. I gunned it out of a wet roundabout, and.... it spun 180 on me!! ...that will teach me. I was driving with no consideration at all and relying totally on the traction and stability to sort out my deliberately ham-fisted drving. I hadn't expected it at all, my fault I know, but it was very surprising none the less. My saving grace was that I did at least ensure there was no one in front or behind before "attempting" it. So Mercedes obviously leave no room for enjoyment whilst BM obviously do and it can catch you out if you try to provoke it. Now I know and will drive the car as I should with or without the stability on. Just a word of warning should anyone else be thinking "..so, just how much abuse can I get away with before it turns around and bites me on the arse??".