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      12-10-2012, 04:51 PM   #1
sean10mm
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2013 335i xDrive first impressions

This is my quick review of my new 2013 335i xDrive. I didn’t choose any of the “lines” and didn’t get much in the way of options – just manual transmission, dynamic handling package, black leather interior and heated seats. The car this replaces is a Nissan 350Z. It was a lot of fun and never gave me any trouble, but I missed having AWD (my previous cars were an A4 Quattro and a WRX), and being a 2 seater it was really impractical. So basically I wanted something fast with 4 doors and AWD, preferably with a stick shift because I’m some kind of dinosaur I guess.

All this probably makes me a very atypical BMW customer, but what the heck.

Conventional wisdom seems to be the sport seats are absolutely essential and the no-line steering wheel is terrible. My experience was different; test driving an M Sport and a basic model back to back convinced me the Sport and M Sport weren’t worth the mark-up for me, especially since the Sport and M Sport lines don't add the sport suspension to xDrive models. Rating seats and such is obviously really subjective, so my advice is to not take anybody’s word for these things and make sure you try them firsthand. Keep in mind the 350Z had a pretty skinny steering wheel as these things go, which might be why the no-line wheel felt the most natural to me.

So how is it? It’s certainly more comfortable than the Z, with tons of room up front (I’m 6’2” and have tons of head & leg room to spare). Between the AWD and tons of torque it feels even faster in a straight line than the 306bhp Z, and depending on whose 0-60 numbers you believe that might even be true. I haven’t had much opportunity to test the handing much, but my first impression is that sport mode makes it very flat in the corners without affecting the ride comfort much. The 6 speed manual has longer throws than the 6 speed in the Z, but is super-smooth; a short-throw shifter kit would be ideal but it's still very good as-is. The electric steering on the F30 seems to be a bone of contention with some people, and I can kind of see why. It’s not bad, but the feel is kind of unusual – it’s really light and really smooth, but also very accurate, which seems like it should be a recipe for being twitchy as hell, but it’s not. I don't mind it but I can see how it could put some people off. It came with the Pirelli Cinturato P7 all-season run flats, which seem to be fine, but I haven’t really tested them in terms of either dry grip or bad weather traction beyond driving in some rain without any fuss.

As much as I like AWD, AWD systems can have a very FWD "feel" at times, where the steering is obviously being affected by power going to the front wheels. To their credit, BMW seems to have abolished this to a really impressive degree with their xDrive system. RWD purists probably won't be convinced, but if you're considering AWD I think you'll be impressed with the current xDrive implementation on the F30.

Overall I’m really pleased with the car so far. I’m not going to tell you it will corner with a true 2 seat sports car from the factory, but it’s still fun as hell.
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      12-11-2012, 01:01 AM   #2
SPACEMANRICK
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Thanks for the writeup and summary! I am loving my 2013 335xdrive and compared to my 2008 335xi it is a more refined drive with a much improved interior. I am getting used to the lighter steering on the F30 but yes it is much lighter than the E90 and a little too light for my liking.

This is also my first automatic after having a manual transmission in my 2002 330xi, 2006 330i, and 2008 335xi. No doubt about it the 8 speed is smooth and fast but I am finding myself missing the involvement and direct control of the 6 speed manual.........Did you consider the 8 speed automatic at all?
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      12-11-2012, 01:41 AM   #3
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Use paddles = involved.
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When is this episode coming?!
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      12-11-2012, 06:26 AM   #4
Ron Scott
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sean10mm View Post
This is my quick review of my new 2013 335i xDrive. As much as I like AWD, AWD systems can have a very FWD "feel" at times, where the steering is obviously being affected by power going to the front wheels. To their credit, BMW seems to have abolished this to a really impressive degree with their xDrive system.
Agree. xDrive has the edge now IMO. Not a cheap upgrade but you get both a better feel than RWD and better control of the car. No brainer if you can swing the $$.
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      12-11-2012, 07:51 AM   #5
sean10mm
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I won't go that far. RWD is still lighter and mechanically simpler. BMW traditionalists are going to want RWD (although BMW has made AWD 3 series models since the E30.) People concerned mainly with absolute performance in the dry are going to want RWD.
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