Sunday, September 28, 2014

2011 BMW 328i XDrive Review and Farewell

2011 328i xDrive at Mt Rainier.
(Click for larger image) 

2011 BMW 328i xDrive "Alex" 

None of my previous cars ever had a name. But this BMW 328ix was Alex. She was Alex from day one, and she gained nothing but admiration, all the way from mile 20 through mile 27750 when her lease expired.

Alex didn't need jewelry.  No navigation, no upgraded stereo, no fancy seating surfaces, or special colors, or sunroof. She had  6-speed Steptronic, xDrive and heated front seats.

The Good - BMW xDrive

The xDrive system was amazing. Driving around Woodinville (Seattle), Washington was always a mix of damp, moist, wet, rainy, wet, rainy roads. Sometimes there was a bit of snow and ice. Never once was I concerned about how Alex was going to handle the conditions. Even when I tried to force her to do bad things, she stayed stable and composed. The anti-lock brakes were a big part of this behavior. Bottom Line: I could drive well past my skill level and Alex would provide huge helpings of semi-crazed fun.

Every minute over 60 MPH was a joy. When we relocated to Texas my first trip was from Round Rock to San Marco on Toll Road 130. I'm sorry, but under 50 MPH the 328ix is just loafing around. Many surface roads in Texas are 50+ and the toll roads run as high as 85. In WA I don't think the run-flat tires ever reached a good operating temp. In TX, with outside temps at 100 and road temps much higher, the tires got warm, got grip, and softened up to a smooth ride.

My recommendation, get a set of Texas Tags, get a full tank of gas, and jump on the toll road - American mini-Autobahn. It's actually quite eerie how Alex would settle down into a purr at 70, then growl and run to 85+.

Black on black, xDrive, and heated front seats = low cost. My MSFT employee discount helped. $3000 down and $309 for 30 months, 10,000 annual miles. I'm not sure why anyone would pay hundred of dollars more for special paint or a sunroof, or bling.

Alex did go to the shop twice, once for a problem with the alarm system (it was buzzing, and required a quick reset), and once to replace the door gaskets. The rubber failed (split) and was replaced under warranty.

The Bad - Wide Turning Radius

Alex hated parking lots, and turning around (turning radius was just short of the Titanic), and driving slow. And, her paint was very susceptible to scratches. You couldn't park far enough away from the dilweeds that would ding the doors. BMW needs to build a force field and add tazers to their future models.

The Ugly - I will not be ignored, Dan

Alex's full name was Alex Forrest, named after the Glenn Close character in Fatal Attraction (IMBD Link).
Happily married New York lawyer Dan Callagher has an affair with his colleague Alex, and the two enjoy a love weekend while Dan's wife and kid are away. But Alex will not let go of him, and she will stop at nothing to have him for herself. Just how far will she go to get what she wants?
My previous rides had been Volkswagens (Scirroco, Rabbit GTI, Jetta, Jetta GLX, Passat, Jetta Sportwagen). You know, the perfectly respectable Anne Archer type car. Alex was my mid-life crisis, my hot, slightly-crazy fling. She made sure to set her claws deep.

This week my 30 month lease finally expired (has it really been three years, it seems like a couple of weeks.). Alex was returned to Austin BWM. I have a new 328i, a saucy, quick steering tart (unnamed so far). It feels exactly like 1978, when my girlfriend (GMF) graduated high school one year ahead of me, went off to college, and we had to break up. Who knows what would have happened... cue slow motion heart-break and life-long regret.

Someone in Austin is going to get a great car. The xDrive is not common (Austin BMW has 24 used 328i models in inventory, and only Alex is a 328ix). The xDrive does not get the price premium that it does in WA. Maybe one of you Colorado snow-birds will take a look.

Her name is Alex, treat her nice, or treat her a bit rough, she will make you hers.


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