Sunday, January 28, 2018

Miscellany: 2013 BMW 328i long-term review - Drei-er Lint, Part II

I'm a big fan of the long-term tests in "Car and Driver." In my mind, it's easy for a vehicle to hold up okay for the first few years, but much tougher to be trouble-free down the road. You also get a much better sense of a model's strengths and weaknesses from living with it every day, rather than just doing a week of canned testing on some press car.

It's been almost two years since I first bought my F30 328i, which now has about 60,000 miles (33,000 coming from yours truly). How has the Bimmer held up?

Hidden Strengths

40/20/40 Split Folding Rear Seats

I don't think I'll ever buy another car without split folding rear seats, and the ones on the current-generation 3-series have got to be near the top of the class.  With the middle section down, I can transport long items (like a cased M1 Garand).  With 2 sections down, you can sit a third passenger and a large volume of luggage.  With the rear seats totally folded, you get a cavernous storage space that is big enough to fit a twin size mattress (speaking from personal experience). The only very minor annoyance? The levers to unlock the seats are in the trunk.

Driving Modes

Thanks to ever-tightening European emissions standards, BMW's 4-cylinder engines absolutely sip fuel. The B48 modular engine in the post-refresh 330i gets an astonishing real-world 41 miles per gallon on the highway, but even my old N20 clocks in at 31ish mpg combined city/highway, if driven gently in "EcoPro" mode. Those are pretty good numbers for any small-to-midsize sedan, much less a RWD car with over 240 horsepower.

Hidden Weaknesses

Trim Durability

Mechanically, the car has been totally sound, but I can't say the same for the interior and exterior trim. I've encountered minor finish problems that seem pretty widespread by all accounts: a loose rear trunklid taillight, melting front door plastic handles, etc. These would be forgivable in a mainstream vehicle, I guess, but they're pretty annoying in a "luxury" car.

Service Costs

Another problem with any premium brand, and BMW in particular, is the arbitrarily high cost of maintenance. While the purchase price of an F30 3-series isn't bad (a 2013 base model goes for well under 20k nowadays), it's an eye-opener when you take it to your local mechanic or (gasp) the dealer. So far, the car has gotten a couple oil changes, a couple cabin air filters, spark plugs, and a new set of Bridgestone DriveGuard run-flats. If you're at all mechanically inclined, I recommend spending the money for a service manual and doing as much of it yourself as your time and energy allows.


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