BMW 330xi

October 18th, 2006 by William

It’s been a long time since I’ve driven a newish luxury sedan. But how much different could a new BMW be from a 5 year old version. Yesterday I stole some seat time in a 2006 BMW 330xi and it seems that Bob Dylan was right; “The times, they are a changing”.

When you get into the 330 you feel like your strapping yourself into the HAL supercomputer. There is no key in the traditional sense; instead the mini-remote used to unlock the car is also the key. Stick the remote into the key port and press the start/stop button and the vehicle comes to life with an array of flashing lights, digital screens and an eerie quiet that you used to find in libraries. Expecting to hear “you’ve got mail” next, it took awhile for my senses to take in all the information that the car was broadcasting to me, and I hadn’t even taken the car out of park yet. For techno-morons like myself, trying to mess with BMW’s iDrive navigation system is a headache waiting to happen. Ditto the stereo system, which I decided would be best to leave alone.

Although a little busy, the interior of the 330xi is well put together and handsome in a very German sort-of way. My biggest complaint in the cockpit was that the side-bolsters on the driver’s seat, which protruded aggressively, grasping my spare-tire mid-section and giving a constant reminder that I had chocolate cake for breakfast. Figuring that the bolsters were probably adjustable–heck everything else was–I spent about 20 minutes trying to figure out how to loosen them up. I was able to make the seat recline, raise, lower, it even gave me a Swedish massage, but for the life of me I couldn’t find the bolster adjustment. I’m sure if you actually bought the car you would receive a set of 2 inch thick owners manuals complete with CD and a 1 month training course that would teach you how to use the car correctly and avoid these problems.

Once on the road the BMW made up for most of its parking lot short comings. Driving the car is pretty straight forward. The 3 liter inline six is silky smooth and pulls hard when asked to. With 255 horsepower the car can definitely get out of its own way, and it can do it with a style that most other sedans only dream of. Turn-in on the car is sharp and the handling is dialed in perfectly. Even on pothole strewn city streets the BMW rode and handled like a true luxury car. I didn’t have a chance to give the 330xi’s all wheel drive any sort of test. But after ringing the car around for awhile traction was the furthest of my concerns.

What really did get my attention was the frustrating turn signal switch. I think BMW tried to get too clever here and develop smart turn signals. At first glance it looks like a normal turn signal stalk, but when you try to signal for a turn the stock becomes the Cheshire Cat; confusing and eluding your every command. Instead of staying in the up or down position when the signal is on, the BMW stalk returns to center. However the signal will come on with even the lightest touch making lane changes especially frustrating.

Overall the car was pretty good in an unremarkable sort of way. It did the whole “driving” thing really well without being obtrusive to the driver. Ultimate driving machine? Probably not. But a good four-door sedan? Yeah, I’ll give it that.

For more info visit:

-Bill Mertz

One Response to “BMW 330xi”

  1. Automotive Blogger » Blog Archive » The Odd Couple: M6 vs. Z06 Says:

    […] To get all the power to the ground the Corvette has massive tires; 275/35 ZR18 fronts and 325/30 ZR19 rears. Although the ride is a little bumpy by normal car standards, I felt it was remarkably smooth considering the stiff suspension setup, the low ground clearance and the 30 series super-low-profile tires. Grip was good even on undulating surfaces, and the Corvette steering felt light and easy to use. If I had to grade the interior I would give it a B+. Aside from some cheesy fonts on the gauges, the Z06 cockpit was very minimalist and affective. With nice seats, easy to use controls and a comfortable driving position, I felt right at home behind the wheel. After about 45 minutes in the Corvette I switched over to the BMW M6. It’s sort of like going from a raging frat party to a German techno club. The M6 has noticeably better fit and finish overall. No gaps in any of the interior panels, and once inside you feel like your sitting in a 5 star hotel. This is partially due to the rich leather upholstery and the said headliner. The controls on the BMW are a bit trickier. With the complicated iDrive computer running the show, I was at a loss to control the stereo or navigation systems. And the turn signal switch is down-right terrible (see my 330xi write-up). […]

Leave a Reply

About Automotive Blogger

Some people use their automobiles only to get from Point A to Point B. You know there's more than that. You get mad when someone makes a remark about your car that's less than flattering. You get riled when a cool car is destroyed in a straight-to-video movie. You realize when a new car doesn't deserve it's name of a great car of the past. When you see someone driving a boring vehicle, you feel sorry for them. You know it's not the destination that counts - it's the journey. Welcome home gearheads. Welcome home, car freaks. Welcome to the site that fuels your automotive obsession -

Automotive Blogger Author(s)
    » Mike-Mayder

Automotive Channel Posts

  • Women on Wheels: Spotlight on Lorraine Schultz
    This week's Woman on Wheels is Lorraine Schultz, founder of the Women's Automotive Association, International (WAAI). Ms. Schultz started the organization to help the development of women as [...]
  • Shipping a Car Overseas
    A few years ago my other half and I were almost relocated from California to England. As part of the process, we investigated the cost of shipping our Subaru Forester across the pond. We learned that [...]
  • Give Volkswagen a Hand
    Hand it in ... hand it over ... put your hands up ... hands off ... hands in your pocket ... raise your hands ... hands across the water ... hand-y ... cold hands, warm heart ... many hands make [...]
  • Friday Five: Turn Up the Music
    I have fond memories of the ancient 8-track player in my uncle's beat up old Ford pick-up truck. It wasn't an original part of the truck; he added it, but summer memories are all tied up in trips to [...]
  • Traction Control
    I don't know about you, but I've never completely understood the difference between traction control and stability control, especially since some cars have both, some have one or the other, and some [...]
  • Women on Wheels: Spotlight on Sara Christian
    Quick question: Who was the first woman to drive for NASCAR? If you answered "Sara Christian" you either paid attention to the title of this post, or you really know your racing history. [...]
  • Safety First!
    Read any auto review, and safety features will be given almost as much attention as engine specs. Either the array of safety systems is lauded, or the lack thereof is denigrated, and sometimes [...]
  • Cerberus Names New Chrysler CEO
    If you follow the business operations of the auto industry at all, you know that a corporation called Cerberus has taken over the reins at Chrysler. They've just named Bob Nardelli CEO, and he along [...]
  • Friday Five: Convertibles
    Ah, August. Here are the days of unending heat, without any three-day weekends to break up the monotony before school begins once more - or, if you're among the child-free - before September 1st, [...]
  • Tech Thursday: MyGig
    If you read car reviews at all, you’ve probably noticed the phrase “MyGig” coming up in the options lists for Chrysler (and Dodge, and Jeep) cars. But do you know what it is? Based on what [...]

Hot Off The Press

  • Play at the W, Part I
    BDSM play is a huge part of my sexual existence. J and I have perfected our play in sensual and responsible ways over the years. In wanting to discuss some of those things in the coming weeks, I [...]
  • This is Relevant to My Interests
    A couple of things that are really just one thing but I'll mention them separately. Strangelands has a sort of "Design an MMO" thing going on. This week is a topic about mixing genres, which, [...]
  • Friday 7/13/07- General Hospital
    Anna's back but not for the reasons I expected, not the espionage and intrigue I enjoy, but to gush over an aging pop-star. This is a different, fun side to Anna but she shines so much better in the [...]
  • A different kind of workout: Flirty Girl Fitness
    There is a new type of fitness facility in Chicago that can bring out your bad-girl side. According to their website, Flirty Girl Fitness is a "premiere women's lifestyle facility that is [...]
  • Teacher Reece Thornton Gets Caught on Tape Stealing Money
    How nice to find a story where a teacher isn't having sex with his or her students or giving them drugs. Instead he's "only" stealing money from them. In Newport, Tenn. Reece Thornton, 55, a GED [...]
  • The Year That Was
    Year 2006 was a banner year as I broke barriers and passed thru them despite the HUGE hurdles. Everything I could wish for Unravels right before me. From the smallest to the grandest, God [...]
  • Bad habits
    Almost none of my friends from my pre-pregnancy life have babies so when I got pregnant I didn't have the kind of support system where I could ask questions from someone with experience. Since I'm a [...]
  • Meadowlands episode six recap - second try!
    I'm back to try to recap this amazing episode one more time. With so much happening to the residents of Meadowlands this week, it's hard to keep it all straight even just two days out, but i'll [...]
  • Sunday Sixteen
    It's time for the Sunday Sixteen! And what a busy week it has been! Keep your tray tables in their upright and locked positions, this is going to be quite a ride!! 1. We found out Wednesday that [...]
  • Perhaps the Last Post for a Week or Two
    Where to begin today? How about my wth stepdaughter? It was a touch and go evening. She is angry about not getting to go to her friends this weekend. And she really doesn't know how to handle [...]