Twelve months and 20,000 miles later, we're still groping for criticism on this car. I'm personally responsible for about a third of those miles, having made a few Bay-area jaunts and a trip to Reno. You could say I've accrued some pretty considerable seat time. And month after month, trip after trip, the 3 Series never got old, never dull, never performed questionably. There are so many things to laud: good power, great handling, decent comfort, decent looks.
And it's been absolutely bulletproof. Normally you'd have at least one piece of interior trim wear out or break off, but the day it goes back, the Bimmer will be entirely in one piece. It's as solid today as it was the day of delivery. No doubt the car will go on to make some Certified Pre-Owned buyer very happy.
It was, predictably, going to be a great car-of that much we were pretty certain even before they dropped it off. The 330i also opened our eyes to new cutting-edge technology. Top of that list is BMW's Active Steering. We ordered the option sight unseen, so to speak, not really knowing what it would be like. Turns out it was better than good, and we're still scratching our heads trying to find a downside to the system. Active Steering makes the 330i amazingly maneuverable at any speed; you can literally make a clean U-turn in a single parking lane at your local supermarket. And I've avoided more than one fender-bender with a mere twitch of the wrist. I guess one unexpected drawback to the system could be getting in another car after having spent a few days in the Bimmer. It makes almost everything else out there feel like turning a tugboat.
And there's the Sirius satellite radio. OK, so satellite's been around for a while now, but we really fell in love with it in the 330i. No matter who was driving it, there was something for them. Sounds lame, but damn if it wasn't true. We each became so accustomed to satellite, we found ourselves wrestling over the keys to avoid driving one of the non-Sirius-equipped sleds.
And say you can't find a channel you like. Then you bring along your trusty iPod and plug it into the auxiliary port. The only bummer is that you can't control the MP3 player from the dash or steering wheel.
All things considered, the 330i is probably the most widely appreciated car since Bidrawn's beloved '96 A4 went back. And that's saying a lot. It is so meticulously engineered and well refined, a product of 30-plus years of development, it really makes you wonder where exactly BMW will find room for improvement in the next generation. But I'm sure there's a project team already hard at work trying to do just that.
Your fingers fidget at the edge of the page. You grow weary of superlatives. Surely a car can't be this good, can it? If it's the new 3 Series, yeah, it can.
At a glance+ The whole car... it's all that good - Not what you'd call cheap