Now at 11,306 miles, it seems our long-term BMW 330i has managed to stand up to the tests of the ec staff with stamina and grace. I've been parking next to it every morning since joining the team for the August issue, and have gazed upon its Electric Red perfection with suppressed eagerness. I wanted to, but dared not ask to drive it. I would have to put in my time before getting this car for the weekend.
I lived vicariously as a passenger on lunch outings, moving my fingers instinctively over the knobs and controls. The 8-way leather sport front seats with thigh supports, provided with the opted-for Sport Package, held tight through any of my coworkers' cornering maneuvers. I would stretch my legs in the spacious interior-wheelbase and track being up over an inch from the 2005 model. The Logic7 audio wouldn't cut out like the surround sound I've experienced in other systems, although navigating the Sirius satellite radio would go a lot better with a toggle knob, rather than with the standard up/down select buttons. I listened to the engine fire up at the touch of the start/stop ignition button, patiently awaiting my turn. I was in danger of becoming a backseat driver.
The 3 is commonplace in the OC scenery. But the sophisticated and smart styling on the new 3 acted as a pretty red curtain to the possibilities within. The exterior is toned down from the 5 and 7 series, but the creases are sharp and more three-dimensional, the arches distinct but integrated. Among other things, the sport package includes 18-inch star-spoke alloy wheels with run flat performance tires, an essential upgrade to the visual cues of the car. But I was tired of just looking at the thing. I was ready to drive it.
And then one day Editor Bidrawn gave the word: "Amanda, you take the BMW tonight. That is all."
I had put in my time.
I headed out that night after work, key fob in hand, pressing to unlock, then-what's this?-pressing to lock. All four door handles light up with keyless entry, making the 3 a red carpet, complete with runway lights.
I'll cut it out with the giddy ramblings. The BMW 3 Series is the known victor in the compact sport sedan world. Though I will say right off that the Active Front Steering option, priced at $1,250, was first to make an impression. AFS maintains the link between the front wheels and the leather-wrapped steering wheel, and electronically varies the steering ratio based on your style and speed of driving. At low and medium speeds the steering is more direct, so that when braking and cornering, it monitors your yaw and makes turning precise and sharp. The Dynamic Stability control even subtly corrects oversteer.
Yeah, the argument seems to be that more control equals less fun. You may not want a computer telling you how to steer. But with the ease at which it performs and the response you get when calling upon it, the car does what you finally, as the driver, already want it to do.
AT A GLANCE
Total Mileage: 11,306
Fuel Economy: 19.9 mpg