In the interest of full disclosure, I'll state straight away that I don't like the looks of the new BMW 3 Series. I've liked a few in the past, and I wouldn't mind driving an older un-Bangled model if someone else were paying the maintenance and insurance, but I wouldn't spend my own money on it. Still, I've always thought the people who write to Car and Driver and howl that they must be on BMW's payroll because the 3 Series always wins comparisons were just a mite paranoid.
Now, well, I'm not so sure. The October issue's article Sport Sedans in Heat leaves me mystified as to how they can justify their choice. Their BMW was a functional disaster, the sort of car I'd be sorry I bought for $25k (I'd be FURIOUS to have paid $40k for it!)
Here's an excerpt of what Car and Driver had to say about their "winner":
"Our 330i labored hard to lose. The electrical ticks began shortly after it was delivered. The new 3-series has a push-button start. Ours would work only after several exasperated pushes and fiddling with the key. Why, we wondered in the free moments this created, must you even insert the "key" into the dash when many push-button systems, including the IS350's, allow the radio-transmitting key fob to roam free?
Then the ABS lamp lit. We tried to execute one stop on our high-desert test road and nearly executed a 360 spin at 70 mph instead (thus, our braking number is from a previous test). Shortly thereafter several airbag-malfunction warnings lit up. Maybe it was just a coincidence."
Okay, so they must have been sucked in by their 330i's styling, since they obviously couldn't be impressed by its mechanical perfection... could they? Well, it's not that either apparently, since they had this to say about the interior: "The new 3's interior, although beautifully tailored with wood accents and leather sport seats, didn't satisfy all. The radio display is hard to read and harder to operate, the A/C struggled in the heat, and the dash is a meniscus that curves coldly away from you." So much for styling perfection.
Yeah, I know these guys don't have to pay for their cars. Still, they could at least do us the service of choosing a car that can stop controllably. A Kia Spectra can do that and leave you with enough change left over for a 12-day cruise in a Royal Suite on the Queen Mary 2, why can't the $40k BMW?