This reviewer has been test driving cars for ten years, but my love of them started in western Nebraska when I was fifteen and got my learner’s permit. That is fairly typical for a young man, and as George Strait renders in his 2000 hit “Best Day”, a teenager’s dreams “revolve around four spinning wheels”. Mine sure did, and as a rule back then I dreamt of a Chevy or perhaps a Pontiac. A BMW? That was something driven through town by a visiting city dweller.
But a dreamy BMW was indeed the test car I received just in time for a birthday (mine) ride all over Weld and Larimer counties recently. The model was a 228i painted Storm Bay metallic (gray) and featured Mocha perforated Dakota leather seating for five. The moniker “Gran Coupe” sounds fancy, but generally a coupe is a 2 door with a sloping roofline. BMW, however, has elected to name this four door as such, and the practice of doing so seems to have been popularized with several other manufacturers.
My test car qualified as a subcompact (178.5” long), and the interior provided supportive seating for two of the passengers, a large moon roof, a 10.3” dandy infotainment screen, and an electronic shifter that I struggled with a little bit. BMW’s always offer the operator a solid, Teutonic feel and sensation, and this 228i was no exception. All of the safety features such as lane change alert were on hand, but the cruise control did not have the radar system that prevents the driver from running up on a slower moving vehicle. The customary cruise control suited me fine, however.
The styling of the 228i is terrific, and neighbors and motorists sure did notice Ruth and I as the day progressed. Power is provided by a turbocharged four with 228 horsepower and the transmission is an eight speed automatic coupled to the all-wheel drive system underneath. Zero to 60 mph can be arrived at in 5.1 seconds and highway fuel economy is rated at 33 mpg.
The M.S.R.P. for my test vehicle worked out to $47,845.00 with all the options.
It was a blast to drive the BMW for the week that I had possession, and I would have to rate my experience driving around in it on my birthday as the “Best Day” of 2020, so far.
In October of 1991, Motor Trend magazine selected BMW’s 325i as one of the “Ten Best” automobiles of the 1992 model year. BMW had (and has) produced automobiles since 1929 and along the way also produced airplane engines (WWII) and motorcycles. The highly anticipated 325i had been totally restyled and featured a 2.5 liter, 189hp, DOHC in-line, six cylinder engine and five-speed manual transmission. The reputation of BMW had been burnished into the minds of the motoring public with the production of the 2002 during the sixties and seventies. That “New Class” compact sporting sedan featured the celebrated M10 four-cylinder engine as well as independent suspension, MacPherson struts, and front disc brakes. The 2002 was the precursor to the famed 325i that was introduced twenty years ago this month. The 1992 325i weighed a ton and a half, was 175” long, and reportedly accelerated 0 to 60mph in 8.0 seconds.
Twenty years have rolled by since the 325i introduction, and now the model most akin to that car is the 2011 BMW 328i. I recently was able to drive around in one with all-wheel drive and a 3.0 liter, 230hp, DOHC six-cylinder engine and six-speed Steptronic automatic transmission. I have never owned a BMW, but after some time behind the wheel, I see why the car has such a sterling reputation. This 2011 BMW 3 series is superior in virtually every way when compared to one sold twenty years ago. Consider that the 328i: will go an additional 2 highway miles on a gallon of gas, will go zero to sixty in two seconds less, and will top out at an additional 15mph when compared with its 1992 counterpart. And the price has gone from a base of $28,000.00 to a current $36,600.00, a REDUCTION when inflation is factored in.
The Tasman green four-door sedan I had the pleasure of driving had saddle brown Dakota leather upholstery, 3-way heated front seats, tilt-telescope steering column, and all the power accessories including moonroof. The trunk is a rather large 14 cubic feet, and the wheels were 17”, ten-spoke alloys. Other amenities too numerous to mention were present in this “Ultimate Driving Machine”, and the MSRP, as equipped, was $42,550.00.
When behind the wheel of a BMW, you expect (and receive) a taut, supple ride, lots of acceleration, and crisp cornering capabilities. The car met my expectations on this day, and I also enjoyed the firm, well-bolstered bucket seats and sensible instrument panel. Rear seating is, might I say, limited, but the car is manufactured with the people up front in mind. And up there the driver enjoys the aforementioned 0 to 60mph acceleration of 6 seconds and BMW’s Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) for braking. That system includes stopping functions for deceleration, wet weather, incline, and heat control. Bottom line; the BMW provides the GO! and the WHOA!.
For twenty years BMW has avoided any bankruptcies, bailouts, or boondoggles. Just steady progress that followed that 1992 Motor Trend Top Ten selection and proceeding to today’s sleek, technically advanced, fifth generation 328i. Car & Driver magazine agreed with that 1992 selection, and tacked on 19 more in succession to include the car that I drove last month. I’ll second that (those) notion(s).