Bought home a preowned BMW 330i xDrive in Canada: Initial impressions
As for the price let’s just say I could have bought a brand new mid-spec Honda CR-V for the same price however driving a plain vanilla crossover.
BHPian Vikram Arya recently shared this with other enthusiasts.
I’m returning to the forum after a hiatus of almost two and a half years so my writing & editing/formatting skills may have slackened a bit therefore please bear with me.
I understand that there are multiple threads on ownership of this car on the forum however the intention here is to provide my perspective that might be a bit different plus I have combined it with the details of the buying experience and some addition/s that I have done to make it a winter worthy vehicle for the kind of conditions (read that as bone-chilling cold) that this vehicle will be exposed to. I hope you will find the account somewhat interesting. Read on…
The good bits:
- Sprightly, tractable motor
- Compliant suspension
- Reasonably good handling (I mean come on, it’s a 330i, not a 911)
- Impressive fuel economy
- Diminutive dimensions
- Timeless silhouette (that’s my take, others may differ)
And not so great:
- Steering (worst execution of the dreaded electric power steering that I’ve seen so far)
- Gruff engine note
- Seats could be better
- Oil filter location (very close to the firewall; important for me as I do my own oil changes)
- Subpar sound reproduction from the audio system (I can learn to live with that)
This project started as a search for a daily driver. My last regular car was sold off as my travel became almost negligible with the onset of COVID.
So began the grind of going to a few dealerships and looking at a couple of cars up close and personal. During the course of my search, I looked at a new VW Tiguan (a crossover), a new Toyota 4 Runner (a hardcore body on frame 4X4, I know) & a Lexus RX 350 (pre-owned). Both Toyota 4 Runner & Tiguan were quickly crossed off the list as the respective dealers mentioned inordinately long wait times (almost a year for the 4 Runner & 5 months for the Tiguan).
I was shopping for the RX 350 from out of province as I have never bought pre-owned cars from Alberta. Exposure to a lethal combination of dirt, salt & gravel (used by the municipality for increasing traction on the roads) that the cars are exposed to for 6 months in the winter is a strict no-no in my playbook.
There were certain requirements that were important to me:
- Clean CARFAX report
- 4X4 or an AWD
- The model should have been in the market for at least 3 plus years so that all the applicable TSBs would have been issued
- Engaging drive (I have a bit of a lead foot) and good seats
- Reasonable infotainment (No I’m not talking of Apple car play & Android Auto but a good music system)
Waiting behind the shroud.
As I was searching for the Lexus RX 350 at a few Vancouver dealerships both on their websites & online auto trading websites (Auto Trader & Car Gurus etc.), I happen to come across a pristine example of a BMW 330i x-Drive M Sport at a North Vancouver BMW dealer.
Now some of you may know that I already have a 535i x-Drive M Sport in my garage & getting a second automobile from Bavaria was not on the cards however the more I looked at the details, the more interested I became. After spending a couple of days looking at the car on the dealer’s website, I picked up the phone and called them up. I was told that the car was a lease return by a retired gentleman who wanted to upgrade to the G20 variant of the 3 Series.
And there she was…
The car was loaded with a Premium package & an M-Sport package and that meant a whole host of extra goodies such as M Sport appearance package, M Sport suspension, Dakota leather seats, larger brakes, Comfort Access, Lane Departure, Blind Spot Warning, Lane Keeping Assist, etc. It came with a B46 (Super Ultra Low Emissions spec (SULEV) version of B48) motor (4-cylinder turbocharged that puts out 248bhp & 350Nm of torque).
M Sport package also gets you a 19-inch staggered tire setup (225/40 R19 on the front and 255/35R19 RFTs at the back) on BMW 403M wheels and a fully digital multifunction instrument display with a custom display for each of the four modes. I already have this on the 5 Series and I was looking forward to a nice analog display but this was not going to be a deal breaker.
As for the price let’s just say I could have bought a brand new mid-spec Honda CR-V for the same price however driving a plain vanilla crossover. and that too with a CVT sounded a bit boring (no offense to the CR-V owners). The ongoing chip shortage and terrible scarcity of both new and pre-owned cars did not help my case either.
The dealer arranged to send me the complete service history of the car from the very beginning of the ownership as the car was serviced at their shop from day one. The car had 45,100 kms on the clock and had undergone the brake pads and disc overhaul/replacement while it was being readied for sale. I found that fact a bit surprising. To put things into perspective I was located 1,100 kms from the dealership and there was no way I was going to take a flight to have a look at the car. Another idea came to my mind to ascertain the driving behaviour of the first owner as in whether he was an aggressive or a sedate driver. I found out that the car is still shod with the original RFT’s (Bridgestone Potenza S 001). I told the salesperson to find out the tread depth of each of the tires.
The new Bridgestone Potenza in 255/35R19 size has a tread depth of 11/32” inch. As this is a rear wheel biased car, the maximum wear should logically be on the rear tires. It turned out that both of the rear tires still had 7/32” tread left which meant 63% of the tread was still on the tires after 46,000 kms. This to me meant that the previous owner was a fairly sedate driver. I also requested close-up pictures of each of the alloy wheels to determine any instance of curb rash and I was pleasantly surprised that there was not a scratch on any of the wheels.
What more could I ask for? As I was having this dialogue with the salesperson, he told me that there is an offer on the car but the concerned person is having some issues with the financing (this very well could be a pressure tactic but whatever) I told him that I will take the car and put down a deposit of $5,000 via a CC transfer.
The same day I booked the flight for myself and my wife & an overnight stay at one of the hotels on the way back (this was going to be a 1,100 km long drive).
- Manufacturing plant: Dingolfing Germany.
- Glacier Silver Metallic.
- B46A(B46B20M0) – Super Ultra Low Emissions spec (SULEV) version of B48, twin-scroll turbocharger, direct injection, variable valve lift (Valvetronic), and variable valve timing (Double VANOS) with 250PS & 350Nm torque.
- ZF 8-speed torque converter (ZF8HP50).
- 4 drive modes and pedal shifters.
- Black Dakota Leather seats, 12-way electronically adjustable with adjustable thigh support.
- Heated seats, windshield & steering wheel (a boon, I use this almost 4 months a year).
- Electrically adjustable & retractable ORVMs.
- Regular sunroof (don’t care for it).
- Fully digital configurable multifunction instrument display (S6WB).
- 9” screen with 8 speaker BMW branded infotainment plus Navigation.
- Automatic climate control, wipers & headlights.
- LED headlights, parking lights, fog lights (front & rear).
- Comfort Access.
- Heads-up Display.
- Lane departure warning.
- Blind Spot Monitoring (I find this the most useful in city driving).
- Lane keeping assist (I always switch this one off).
- Front Collision Mitigation (automatic braking).
- Front and back parking sensor with a rear camera with dynamic guidelines.
- 6 airbags.
- 60 ltr fuel tank that takes 91 octane.
- M Sport suspension.
- Tires & wheels: 225/40R19 (F) & 255/35R19 (R) Bridgestone Potenza RFTs on BMW M 403 wheels.
We reached Vancouver at 10:00 on the day of the delivery and the store at 11:30. A few of you may know I had done a similar pilgrimage back in 2019 for the 535i.
I was taken to the delivery area where I did a close inspection of the car for cosmetic damage which may not have been apparent in the pictures. Barring a very small scratch which I could barely notice on the rear bumper the car was in a pristine condition.
Aah, the delicious F80 M4 Convertible.
I also noticed that there were some beauties parked in the store including a fully loaded X7 & a F80 M4 Convertible in black. After completing the formalities & handing over a banker’s cheque for the balance which took me about 45 minutes and included a 2-day temporary transit permit as this was an out-of-province sale, we drove to a local German boutique bakery (recommended by the salesperson) for a quick bite.
The place turned out to be really good. We also picked up a few goodies for our daughter and drove out. I noticed that the car came with a full tank of gas so I would not need to waste my time filling her up.
Sharing a parking space with a Bentley Bentayga.
North Vancouver as is clear is located on the North side of the city overlooking the Pacific Ocean and this meant I would have to cross the entire city. Thankfully we were still some time away from the atrocious rush hour and we made good time to get out of town at a quick pace.
Now mind you that I had never driven the F30 3 Series although I had test driven the G20 3330i & M340i back in May 2019; I was pleasantly surprised to find that the engine was very tractable and was pulling effortlessly even in normal mode.
We made a quick stop at Hope, a very small town about 170 kms from North Vancouver for a sandwich and some gas. Incidentally, this is where the famous Rambo I/First Blood starring Sylvester Stallone was filmed back in the day, one of the first English language films that I watched while in school.
The sun had started to go down and after Hope, the speed limit increased to 120kmph (Coquihalla highway) so slowly I increased my pace to 130 (taking a small liberty though not recommended). We covered a distance of 365 km in roughly 5 hours (including breaks). I again stopped by the side of the highway to take some stunning pictures of the sky lit up in various unreal hues.
The colours in the sky were just unreal.
As I was approaching Kamloops, a small town where we had planned to stay for the night, I noticed a car wash by the side of the highway and drove in to wash off the dead bugs splattered all over the front. I like to keep my cars clean even during travel.
Looking pristine after a quick wash.
At the hotel, I was able to find a parking spot right by the entrance. After checking in at the local Holiday Inn, had a light meal, and a quick shower and then dozed off.
The next morning we started late in the morning at 10 after a quick breakfast. We had to cover a distance of 655kms and that should have taken us about 8 hours including breaks, however, that was not to be.
This is a very scenic route that passes through the Coast Mountain range and Roger Pass which is the highest point on the Trans Canada highway (also known as Highway 1). As soon as we hit a small town that goes by the name Sicamous, a small community of 2,500 people; my wife spotted a Farmers’ market with very inviting fruit and vegetable displays.
We stopped there and spent a good two hours shopping for fresh vegetables and fruit. There was also a Dutchman’s dairy nearby and we hopped in for some delicious freshly made ice cream. Although we were just carrying a duffel bag, the boot of the car was soon filled up with fruit and vegetables and that also meant that I would have to lessen my pace which did not make me happy.
We finally left Sicamous at approx. 3 pm.
From Sicamous onwards, the highway became more winding and elevation started to increase and the speed limit was reduced to 100kmph. The drive starts to become even more scenic and elevation continues to increase till you reach Roger Pass at an altitude of 4,364 feet above sea level.
Taking a breather at the “Three Valley Gap”
About 35-odd kms from Sicamous, we came across this beautiful lake that warranted a stop to gaze at the pristine view and we did.
We had barely gone another 100km and it was time for a nature break so I took the car to what seemed like a resting area….and what a view it was. We spent a good half an hour there gazing at the flowing Illecillewaet River and the surrounding beauty….
Skunk Cabbage Trailhead.
From here on it was a non-stop drive till we reached Golden, a small ski resort town with a population of approx. 4,000; we had covered about 360 kms from Kamloops and it was time for an early dinner. We realized that we had skipped lunch (well a large scoop of ice cream at the Dutchmans Dairy had put paid to that). My wife searched and found a nice Indian restaurant located on a small hill.
After a sumptuous lunch of chicken tikka masala & shahi paneer coupled with garlic naans, we headed out. Golden is the last town in British Columbia before you hit Alberta.
After covering another 50 off kms we stopped at Field, a small community of 170 odd folks. It has a Visitor Centre with massive parking and very clean washrooms. It was almost dark but I still clicked a couple of pictures against the magnificent Rockies in the background.
A quick stop at “Field” a small community of 200 people.
From here on, no breaks were taken and by 8:30 pm I pulled into our driveway after covering almost 1,050-odd kms.
The instrument panel was showing an overall fuel mileage of 7.7l/100kms which translates to 13.1km/ltr. Please note that 800 kms of this distance was covered at 110-120km/hr and 250 odd kms were covered at @130km/hr; considering all of that it found the overall fuel economy to be very impressive.
I would like to mention here that the car was christened “Silver Star” by my wife once we brought her home.
With her elder sibling.
Soaking in the Sun the next day after a long drive home
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