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      10-21-2012, 04:25 PM   #1
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Bought a Modern, and why

Hello all! First post, first BMW.

This turned out much longer than I planned, so it’s more like an article than a post.

THE BACK STORY
I’ve always wanted one. I’ve had VWs in the past, and when I’ve referred to them as the poor-man’s BMW, most people don’t get what I mean. If you like that German style of engineering, then a VW owner will surely dream about a BMW.

For the past 5 years I’ve had a difficult daily commute in the bowels of LA Traffic Hell. So in my late 30s, I decided I needed a luxury ride – nothing harsh -- something that calms you and makes you say, “Ahhh”. I test drove the new (at the time) Passat CC and was severely unimpressed. I went across the street to the Lexus dealer to see what “real” luxury might be. Drove an IS 350 and a used GS 350, and bought the GS 350. It was a great car, but not exactly a total luxury car. It was trying to be kind of sports car (it was fast) and a luxury car at the same time (sound familiar?). The seats were uncomfortable, and though it had a beautiful interior, I never exactly felt like I was steeped in luxury.

THE NEW SEARCH
So here I am again, telling myself: “Comfort; luxury; calming… that’s what you need.” Oh yeah, and fuel economy would be a good idea.

I drove the new Lexus ES 350 and ES hybrid, BMW 328i (of course), Hyundai Genesis, even a Camry hybrid and Honda Accord. I wanted to test the new Nissan Altima, an Audi, and a Benz, but never got to it.

The Benz dealer pissed me off. No loss though -- I don’t think I could stand looking at that emblem every morning. See, on my drive, Mercedes drivers are the worst. They do what they want, when they want. They drive with an audacious sense of entitlement. When I see a Mercedes flying up the merge lane in my rear view, I know they’re going to take it to the last possible second and then jam their nose into left-hand traffic, regardless of whether there’s room for them or not. They never let me down.

(Start tangent:: I have a very general theory: They’re successful because they get (or take) what they want, no matter what it takes, regardless of who’s in their way. With that success they can afford a status car, and they drive it the same way. “I’m not waiting in that line of traffic with the other lemmings… I’ve got a meeting to get to.”

Every day I see similar driving behavior from the Bimmer drivers, but I have defended them through the years with a sub-theory -- the 50/50: Half of them are like the Mercedes drivers. But the other half… the other half just love to drive these amazing cars (and can’t help but pull off stunts that other drivers can’t). Of course, I like to think I fit into the latter category, but because of the reputation of the first half, I’m still going to have an a-hole complex while driving my new car. Hopefully I can get over that : ) ::End tangent)


Back to the search: I had to keep telling myself, “The 328i is NOT the luxury car you are looking for! This car will beg you to drive it. It will not calm you down.” But I couldn’t get the BMW out of my mind. So I rented one for a day. It wasn’t cheap, but it was money very well spent. In some ways I was underwhelmed. It was a 2012 base model. No power seats? Really? I was cranking the seat-height thingy in bumper-to-bumper traffic, going, WTF? How is this in the luxury category?

Little things (it’s the little things in life sometimes) like the damn cup holders… trying to get my morning coffee cup from the holder to my mouth was a challenge without taking my eyes off the road. If I put it in the left hole, I have a small corridor to negotiate between the steering wheel and the selector; put it in the right, and I have to swing it out and around the selector. Lame. One thing I’ll say about the Lexus GS 350: Except for the seat comfort, it had perfect ergonomics.

I also keep my iPhone in view with the INRIX traffic app open to make decisions about my route. Again, the GS 350 had a perfect resting spot in the center console (I know, I just complained about taking my eyes off the road). But I couldn’t figure out where the hell to put it in the 328 where I could actually see it. I settled on a little spot by the parking brake handle, and it was… lame. Maybe there’s some iPhone integration I’m not aware of with the iDrive system that will allow me to see the app on screen (mirroring?). Or, maybe the traffic info with the Nav system will be accurate and useful, but I don’t have high hopes for that.

I imagine muscle-memory will get the cup holder crises resolved quickly, and I’m currently looking into iPhone holders and mounts. Aside from those small-but-big things, I’ve always found BMW interiors to be very military-like… cold and plain and low-tech. They still kind of have that look, though it’s more refined now. As my salesman told me: “BMW isn’t trying to be Lexus; they’re about the driving experience.” Not exactly true any more, but fair enough.

And it’s the “driving experience” that has led me to buy one. I took that rental car on some mountain roads, and I admit I’ve never driven a car that handled so well. I was smitten, and it was all just a matter of logical conclusion from there.

CONTEMPLATING OPTIONS
Man, am I an expert with the BMW Build Your Own configurator. And I bet a lot of you have had the same experience I did, where I knew more about the 328i than my salesman. I was informing him about options, and he had been working there for 12 years. I have to credit this forum too for the wealth of info.

I had done my searches for the perfect config from every dealer’s inventory within a 100 mile radius and couldn’t find it. I wasn’t 100% sure, but I thought I wanted a Modern Line, black-on-black. I’ve never had a black car, but I’ve had tan interiors. My GS 350 was white w/tan.. This time: black.

My biggest hang up? The wheels. That’s really the only reason I was looking at the Modern Line. I didn’t think I needed the Premium Package. Leatherette was probably fine, and I could care less about a moon roof (used it only a few times on my last car). And I could really care less about the little trim BS that’s on the car with the different lines. What I’m after is different wheels.

I know it may sound silly or petty to some, but to those of you who mod, this will make total sense. It is absolutely amazing how the choice of wheels on this car can make it look completely different. So much so, that I started to think the body or the stance varied with all the different lines. I had to do a crude Photoshop of the different wheels over a single photo of a stock model to convince myself that they’re all the same. Here are the results (by the way, this dealer, Kuni BMW, really knows how to photograph these cars to look sexy! Hope they don’t mind me using their pic):

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I’m not going to modify this car in any other way, but those stock wheels would have to go. I’ve had 5-spoke/star wheels for 15 years and I can’t stand looking at them any more. If I ordered a stock model with options, I would have to make provisions for new wheels. And what a PITA that would be!

I’m 42. I’m not going to buy some blingy 20’s and put them on this car. I’m not going to lower it (though I admit an inch or so would look great). I just want different damn wheels from stock ones, without having to get the Premium Package with one of the Lines! I even emailed BMW about it, and they just said, “Your dealer can answer all of your questions”.

As you’ve probably figured out by now, the Sport line isn’t really for me – the racer stuff doesn’t really fit me anymore… I want something a little more refined. And I may be wrong, but I worried that the Sport Line suspension would be harsher. I’m looking for the most comfortable ride WITH the BMW feel that I’ve been wowed by (however, the more I look at those sport wheels, the more I like ‘em!).

And that’s my point… the wheels on this car make such a difference I can’t believe it. Sport wheels make it look like a bad-ass machine. The multi-spoke Lux wheels make it look classy and expensive, if not somewhat gaudy. The modern wheels are somewhat boring, but to me, they’ll stand up over time. They look better than stock. They’re somewhat refined and classy, and they’re safe.

So OK, buy a stock model and just swap the wheels, right? Yeah, right. Maybe I’ll find a guy in Minnesota who wants rims for winter tires, willing to pay a grand for them. Then I have to ship them. Now I have 17” Run-flat tires to sell. Now I have to find and buy the turbine 415 wheels. I saw some on ebay for $2k. Now I need tires. Run-flats required for warranty purposes. Another $1.500. Get them mounted and balanced with TPMS…

Alright, then consider the “lines”. The first Line I saw on a car lot was the Luxury line. It got my blood pumping… “Oooooh…..”. I thought it looked great, but just slightly gaudy -- like I should be chauffeuring the president of Rwanda around in it. And, was I actually looking at a 5, or a 7-series?? Nope, that’s definitely a 3. In person, it looks great from every angle except from the exact side, where it looks a little squatty, stubby, or short. And I wondered if those busy multi-spoke wheels would get tiring and look dated over time. And one thing is certain: They’ll be a bitch to clean!

The Modern Line exterior, as I said, is classy and “safe”. My only worry is that it looks a little too much like the opposite of aggressive… almost dainty. I’ve always liked the E90’s with 10 spoke wheels though, so I should like this one too. Decisions, decisions., buy what a nice dilemma to have!

MAKING A DECISION
Okay, so I went to the dealer two Saturdays ago to see some options. I thought maybe I’d order a stock model and add lots of options and packages. Instead of leaning towards luxury and looks, I’d build “the Ultimate Highway Driving Machine”. In other words: Technology Package, Driver’s Assistance Package, and Active Cruise Control.

I also wanted to look closely at the seats: Leatherette vs. Leather with lumbar, vs. Sport. This part was important – probably most important. I thought the leatherette in the rental was fine, except for the “stickiness” (maybe “grabby-ness is a better description). It was also a 100 degree day, and it got HOT in those seats.

The salesman said in no uncertain terms that the sport seats are where it’s at for comfort. As I said, I’d been avoiding the whole Sport thing, because it might mean I’ll want to drive like a maniac and it’ll be a rough ride. He said that wouldn’t be the case, but regardless, I didn’t find the Sport seats better for me (in the brief two minutes I sat in them). I think seats are probably a very personal thing depending on your body type and body issues. I did, however, find the leather to be more solid feeling and contouring than the leatherette.

My salesman talked me into leather seats, and he said selecting leather automatically includes lumbar support with or without the Premium Package. I had my doubts about that, so now the Premium Package was looking more like a reasonable addition. Since I have lower-back issues, I would hate to skip the lumbar and find out later I need it. Moon roof, schmoon-roof, but the Comfort Access is just cool (had it with my Lexus). Worth the money? No. But if I’m getting leather, I may as well get the Premium Package, and then for $2100 more I can get the damn wheels I want!

And that’s why I chose the Modern Line with the Technology Package (I really wanted the HUD. I was dead-set on that). I don’t think I’ll regret getting the Premium Package. I just hope the leather seats are comfortable in the long run. God I hope so – I’m going to be in them for two hours a day.


AND FINALLY…
Okay, so I finally came to a decision and now I needed to order it, but first the dealer tried to locate this car somewhere in their network. They found one with my specs, but it had also had heated seats, which is a little irritating because I never used them in my last car, and I really don’t need to spend another $500 at this point! But it was either that, or wait 3 months because according to them, the only slots they had were for South Africa production and it would take a long, long while.

I would’ve felt like an idiot complaining about 500 more dollars on a $46,000 car, so I said OK to the transfer. The only issue was that the 2012 model with black interior had a white (Oyster) dash and steering wheel, and they told me that hadn’t changed for 2013. But I found an article on BMW blog that stated they had changed it to all-black for 2013. The Build Your Own configurator shows all-black too. The next day they called the dealer who had the car and they confirmed it was black. I was still wondering what “exclusive Oyster-colored instrument cluster with Chronoscale” means (in the list of features on the 328i Lines page). And what is “Chronoscale”? Anyone who knows, please enlighten us.

I spent Sunday looking at pics online, wondering if I’d made the right decision, but I had to decide on something. My heart was in the Luxury look, so I shot my salesguy an email Sunday night, saying, “If the transfer hasn’t happened yet, abort, and get me a Luxury with the same specs”. He was off on Monday and it was too late when he got the message.

So I brought my car home Friday night and I love it. The dealer experience was great – no BS, no tricks, no pushy up-sells. The wheels do look great. With black interior, the instrument cluster is not Oyster. The “exclusive stitching and piping” is the lighter colored oyster and it looks really nice. Otherwise, it’s almost identical to the Luxury interior, minus the center console trim ring. My car should be less common for a while, as there are fewer Modern lines on the lots around here. I hate to sound corny, but it’s a dream come true for me. Thanks for reading and feel free to give me your 2 cents!

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      10-21-2012, 04:36 PM   #2
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congrats!
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      10-21-2012, 04:44 PM   #3
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nice man good luck
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      10-21-2012, 05:40 PM   #4
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Enjoy your car, it's rather exclusive with that light-colored steering wheel.
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      10-21-2012, 06:02 PM   #5
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Love the story. I too have a Black BMW, thought it would be cliche, and really thought I didnt want the black but I love it. Mine is Black Sapphire Metalic and I think yours is the Jet Black but still awesome. I opted for the Sport Line since it had all the options that I was looking for. The ride comfort is amazing but I dont have a 2 hour commute, (since I moved from LA), but long journeys from Phoenix back to LA don't bother me at all. Very comfortable and supportive. If you don't already love it the HUD is AWESOME! I don't know if I can ever own a car with out it now. I'm happy to see that you were able to option your car the way you wanted and get exactly what you dreamed of. Enjoy it! Congrats.
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      10-21-2012, 08:51 PM   #6
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Enjoy your car, it's rather exclusive with that light-colored steering wheel.
Nope, it's all black. I wouldn't have bought it otherwise.
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      10-21-2012, 08:53 PM   #7
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AZ330 - loving the HUD! Making a phone call is a blast. Mine is Sapphire Metallic as well.
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      10-21-2012, 09:30 PM   #8
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Nope, it's all black. I wouldn't have bought it otherwise.
The very last picture you posted (of your car?), the steering wheel is not black.
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      10-21-2012, 10:08 PM   #9
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Got any interior pics? Great choice! I actually like all of the lines, but the absense of sport auto in luxury and modern lines was upsetting. The sport wheels are pretty awesome as well. Enjoy!
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      10-21-2012, 10:15 PM   #10
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The very last picture you posted (of your car?), the steering wheel is not black.
Yes, that's my car, and I can assure you the steering wheel I've been looking at all weekend is black.
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      10-21-2012, 10:17 PM   #11
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Got any interior pics? Great choice! I actually like all of the lines, but the absense of sport auto in luxury and modern lines was upsetting. The sport wheels are pretty awesome as well. Enjoy!
I'll try to get some real pics next weekend.
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      10-21-2012, 10:23 PM   #12
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Great choice.

You bought the right car in the right configuration for the right reasons. And to put your mind at ease, the suspension is no slouch. My 2013 Luxury line is my third 3 Series in a row and coming off an E90 M-Sport I was very concerned that the stock suspension was going to be too soft. Well, let me tell you that for where I do 99% of my driving the new suspension is vastly superior to the E90, a lot more forgiving, quiet, and comfortable. For that 1% of the time that I'm on a road where I can really let it rip I've got some body roll I don't appreciate, but we're talking 5 minutes a month, tops, when I'm in that twisty situation.

What you'll find in the forums are two factions of 3 Series drivers. The vast majority are performance enthusiasts and they are a bit disappointed by the larger size and softer ride. The minority are non-enthusiasts like me and we are beyond thrilled by BMW's new approach and focus on comfort, luxury, and technology.

You'll love it. Best car I've ever owned.

BJ
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      10-21-2012, 11:14 PM   #13
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Beautiful car you've got !!

As opposed to other people, and most people who buy the car just for the badge... You actually put a lot of thoughts into this purchase...

I am glad you came out happy and satisfied with your choice...

I feel that i had done a few things the same way as you when choosing exactly the car that i want... because for us, it was about realizing a dream of ours...

So that's why, when reading your post, i perfectly understand your reasonning and choices... (but it doesn't meant that we have the same tastes, obviously since i got a different car from you) but at least it's a pleasure to know that someone else out there took the time to identify each different trim and options that you care about...

Your car is truly a reflection of your individuality, althought it might not seem that obvious to the next person.


I agree the Modern wheel are really nice looking... those were my favorite rims too, but the chrome trims around the windows got a better of me, and tipped my decisions toward the Luxury line (silly isn't it :P)



Enjoy driving and staring at your car !!
it's beautiful
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      10-21-2012, 11:43 PM   #14
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Great choice.

You bought the right car in the right configuration for the right reasons. And to put your mind at ease, the suspension is no slouch. My 2013 Luxury line is my third 3 Series in a row and coming off an E90 M-Sport I was very concerned that the stock suspension was going to be too soft. Well, let me tell you that for where I do 99% of my driving the new suspension is vastly superior to the E90, a lot more forgiving, quiet, and comfortable. For that 1% of the time that I'm on a road where I can really let it rip I've got some body roll I don't appreciate, but we're talking 5 minutes a month, tops, when I'm in that twisty situation.

What you'll find in the forums are two factions of 3 Series drivers. The vast majority are performance enthusiasts and they are a bit disappointed by the larger size and softer ride. The minority are non-enthusiasts like me and we are beyond thrilled by BMW's new approach and focus on comfort, luxury, and technology.

You'll love it. Best car I've ever owned.

BJ
Thanks - and yes, I'm in the same category as you.

My first plan was to order a Mineral Grey Luxury Line with Saddle interior, so I'm a bit envious of your car. When I bought my used white Lexus, I really wanted to try a black car.

This time around, the mineral grey looked so good and it was a little different, so I thought I'd go that way. I was telling a co-worker about it, saying how every BMW around is black or white, and I wanted something a little different. He said, "who cares, get what YOU want". And he was right -- who cares if I can hit 5 black Bimmers with a rock... what matters is what I want to see in my garage. But again, your car is a beauty!
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      10-21-2012, 11:48 PM   #15
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I agree the Modern wheel are really nice looking... those were my favorite rims too, but the chrome trims around the windows got a better of me, and tipped my decisions toward the Luxury line (silly isn't it :P)
Not silly... I wish my car had that trim too - it's what I see missing from the pictures.

I see you got one of those luxury lines that had the star wheels. Are they 19's? They look a little different than the sport line wheels. Is that what came with the initial/European version of the Line?
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      10-21-2012, 11:52 PM   #16
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AZ330 - loving the HUD! Making a phone call is a blast. Mine is Sapphire Metallic as well.
Awesome! Love the way the sun hits the car and shines. Glad your enjoying it!
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      10-22-2012, 10:37 AM   #17
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Not silly... I wish my car had that trim too - it's what I see missing from the pictures.

I see you got one of those luxury lines that had the star wheels. Are they 19's? They look a little different than the sport line wheels. Is that what came with the initial/European version of the Line?
yeah ... those star wheels are 19's, and they are optionals accross the F30 lines for 335i only. I didn't like so much the standard 18's lux wheels...

The 19's upgraded look more sporty but they are really not original...
as a matter of fact, they look like Hyundai Genesis Coupe wheels .
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      10-22-2012, 11:50 AM   #18
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Wow, you love to type.

congrats on the new car.
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      10-22-2012, 01:04 PM   #19
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Great pics showing the difference wheels make to the look. If the base model style was 18" I think they would be the best looking.
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      10-22-2012, 04:28 PM   #20
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Not corny at all. Nice choice. Welcome to the club.
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      10-23-2012, 10:58 AM   #21
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just my 2 cents from having a M sport, anyone sorry they chose this line because of the rims and the brake dust? I know the luxury line rim would be even worse.
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      10-23-2012, 09:50 PM   #22
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Congrats on your very classy looking F30 !

You are right about the importance of wheels to the overall look of the car.
You made a good choice ! I have a set of Style 415 (Modern) wheels on order for my winter tires. Like you, I don't care for the busy looking, multi-spoke "Luxury" wheels.
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