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2019+ BMW 3 AND 4-SERIES FORUMS (G2x Generation) Photos / Videos / Journals E90 to G20, and the end of an era

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      04-02-2020, 12:53 AM   #1
-EndOfAnEra-
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Cool E90 to G20, and the end of an era

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By request from Alpine535Msport , updated with 5-month impressions! Appended to bottom of this post.

Alright, I'm looking to break some post length records today. Sit back, relax, pop open a cold one and come with me on an epic journey...

Today I ended my lifelong relationship with the manual transmission. I've taken delivery of a G20 M340i RWD, meet Christy! Extensive driving impressions to follow later, but initial sight and feel impressions of going from E90 335i RWD 6MT to G20 M340i RWD 8AT follow:



The Build

2020 M340i RWD (in Cleveland Ohio!)
Black w/ Blue Stitching, Aluminum Mesh trim over Black Sapphire Metallic

- Executive Package
- Premium Package
- Vernasca Leather w/ Ambient Lighting
- Driving Assistance Professional
- 792M Cerium Grey wheels w/ go-flats (yay!)
- Space Saver Spare (boo!)
- Wireless Charging w/ Enhanced Bluetooth






















The Experience

I want to begin by giving the highest of shout-outs to my CA, Steve Kizewic at BMW of Toledo. Steve's the most stand-up, straightforward, funny guy you'll ever meet, never steered me wrong, put up with my endless "Are we here yet?" emails, and treated me with respect and courtesy every step of the way. He's a true enthusiast's CA. If you're looking for a great guy to do business with, just tell him Oscar sent ya!

Full disclosure... this is not just my first new BMW, this is the first car I ever personally bought new! I arrived in the late afternoon, fully armed with my mask and hand sanitizer. Normally, I think this is what people do when they're robbing a place!

Steve met me and took me inside. Everything had been prepped and when I had my first look at my car, I found myself grinning like a teenager! Everything was perfect, as I had imagined it! The cerium contrasted so very, very well with the Black Sapphire, the 792Ms with blue calipers popped hard and she just looked like a million bucks. I'm struggling to regain my composure as I crawl around, through, and under the car with childish abandon, marveling at the pristine engine bay and undercarriage as much as breathing in that intoxicating new car smell.

Steve came back and took me to parts so I could grab some accessories. Literally felt like the line at the courthouse with everyone doing everything possible to keep social distance. With COVID-19 making things interesting, the whole business was transacted in about an hour as most of the paperwork had been pre-built and just needed me to review and sign. The process was to basically ogle, learn via Genius, sign, and drive! Best plus of this whole sordid situation, can't imagine any future purchase going easier than that one!

But... there were no handshakes, no hugs, no tight selfies thanks to the situation. It was surprising to me just how much that hurt, but I accept it as necessity for the moment. I swore next time would be different! Anyhow, let's move on.


The Looks (at least for me)

Let's get subjectives out of the way first. While I too miss the classic BMW face, this is the most acceptable form of the modern look I have personally seen. There is a sense of distillation, a sense of taking core concepts from the classic look and emphasizing them to create a minimalist interpretation. There is ample use of negative space in the Icon version of the headlights. This is also true with the taillights, and one of the biggest reasons I wanted Black Sapphire was because the clear parts of the rear tails would blend into the body. This worked and definitely recalls the iconic L-shaped BMW taillights, but again with a modern minimalist aesthetic.



please excuse the horrible editing!

The interior is elegant in its simplicity (with one giant exception). I love how artfully the aluminum mesh trim blends into the leather trim and follows the lines on the Sensatec dash. It reminds me greatly of the E36 interior in how it flows from side to side. To anyone on the fence about the mesh, it is absolutely worth it if you are looking for a sporty look. It has a beautiful texture and is matte enough not to be a shiny distraction while driving. It also allows the satin trim edges to blend better rather than be emphasized for a more cohesive look in my opinion.



I considered Cognac first but couldn't get it with the black lower dash in the US. I also considered Mocha which does have that but thought it too dark for BSM. Ultimately I chose the Black with Blue Stitching because of the little details. It adds just enough color to the interior to make it pop, and I love the little M tri-color bar on the seatback. They don't seem to fit me quite as well as my E90 seats did, but they are absolutely comfortable and supportive as I had the most relaxing 120 mile drive I could remember. No, it isn't a 5-series but it's very nice for a 3. I suspect I will adapt in time.

No shakes, no rattles, everything feels brilliantly screwed together inside. Interior fit and finish are excellent, and the materials feel wonderful and high quality.

Very nice bonus for those who do night driving, the main screen can be shut off and the ambient can be set to dim at night or be turned off completely. Haven't had dark enough of a drive to really see but will report back after.

The center console has much more usable space in the armrest and ahead of the cupholders, BUT the glovebox has shrunk substantially. To anyone who still keeps their servicing receipts in the car, you're gonna run out of space quick!

Be forewarned to anyone who wants non-runflats, the enclosure for the spare EATS the trunk. Easily halves it. I'm going to investigate getting the lower panel and a slime kit to give me back some ability to do Costco runs

That neatly brings me to the one thing I genuinely don't like about the interior... the cluster.

Why BMW decided to eliminate its perfect instrument cluster is a decision I will never understand, and I sincerely hope that they bring back an analog option with the LCI. From a design perspective, it fits. But I'm not caring about design when actively DRIVING. I care about functionality, visibility and the ability to quickly process multiple datasources in a single glance. Don't get me started about the reverse tach!

Busy is an understatement. To their credit, the designers packed a LOT of information into the cluster but did so in a manner which overwhelms the whole design. You are constantly shifting your view around the curve of the steering wheel because the top of each gauge is being lightly obscured. It creates a maddening effect. It might be mitigable for some by moving the steering wheel closer rather than having it in tight to the dash but not for my normal position. I will be experimenting with this.

However, I suspect that I will simply shift to using the HUD. This is my first time having a car with this and it is very nice. There is a reduced mode for the instrument cluster which ironically makes it even less focused BUT also more subtle. You could now use the HUD for both speed and RPM and pull up the Sport Displays on the center screen for oil temperature. I'm eager to try this setup as it may be a great way to "fix" this cluster. The HUD by default shows a ton of information which skews the speed readout to the left of center, but if you just have speed and RPM in the HUD it's perfectly centered with the driving position.


The Drive

Extensive impressions will follow in a month, but initial impressions as follows. First, the car is FAST. Full stop. Second, coming from a pure manual transmission I am shocked just how fast the car shifts! I need more time with my local roads but I can tell we're gonna have a great time!

Suspension is taut but not unsettled, I have the passive setup. Despite the shift from 18's with a taller sidewall, the ride feels better than the E90. It actually feels remarkably similar and I feel that this seems to be an area where the engineers have been allowed to continue with business as usual. I felt instantly at home driving the G20.

Grip is phenomenal in normal driving. I chose RWD and picked up the car in 40 F weather, colder than I would normally run summers. I needn't have worried, the Michelin PS4S are plenty strong on this car! Yet, toss it in Sport Plus and she will swing the tail out like an excited puppy if you want it. Learning the limits and feeling that breakpoint will take some time but it's gonna be a lot of fun! Hoping to get a bit more time on my local routes this weekend.


The Tech

I consciously chose to NOT mess with the Driver Assistant features to see how intrusive and jarring they were before peeling back some items, so currently everything is switched on, the default. With a long highway drive and break-in firmly on my mind, it didn't take me long to realize that as much fun as Sport was in the city, I should settle it into something more efficient for the straight drive home. I could have chosen Comfort but instead chose the dreaded ECO PRO mode, figuring I need to give everything a once over. Boy, that was a mistake.

In normal highway driving, ECO PRO sucks. There is no responsiveness when you need it, and always a sense you are holding back. She wants you faster, why are you slowing down?!

Then... I turned on the Assisted Driving mode.

OH MY WORD. I have witnessed (not necessarily for the best) the future. In Assisted Driving, the car will drive perfectly centered in your lane down a four lane highway with you staring out the front windshield and lightly gripping the back of the steering wheel while it constantly makes gentle steering corrections to follow the curve of the road. While no traffic was around, I maintained a stupidly relaxed grip on the wheel with just my left hand on the bottom of the rim. I went back to 9 and 3 when passing anything, and found you could fully control the wheel INSIDE the lane to optimize position or get away from that minivan leaning to far to one side in the next lane.

This is the PERFECT mode for ECO PRO. Cruise control set so you never get a ticket, lightly on the wheel and just watch the miles literally vanish. I taught myself iDrive 7 almost completely while letting the car take me home and never lost confidence in the system. Just amazing. I was on the fence about the full Driver's Assist Pro package, I'm a true believer now!

Otherwise, I'm slowly adapting my anachronisms to a modern car (iPod Video anyone?). Looking forward to giving the audio (non-HK) and mobile office features a shot soon! Also need some more time with the cameras. I tried out the reversing assistant and sucked in my breath with the foot on the brake as she reversed COMPLETELY out of my garage with perfect steering. Uncanny.


The Feel

This one started as the most important but I feel I have the least to say about it now. I need to put the car through some proper corners before I can judge. I will say, my E90 had the most perfectly weighted, beautiful sense of what the car was doing at any one time from that magical hydraulic rack. I already found on autocross that on the G90 there wasn't the same feel through the wheel but it was still there in the chassis. But when I got in my new car and started driving, the feel just felt RIGHT. I will be examining my thoughts on this in future updates.


And... The "Oh No" moment

People, whatever you do when you trade in your old car, make sure you get EVERYTHING from it before you hand it over, especially if you're transferring old plates to new. I may have accidentally left my registration in the old car... so I may be a bit delayed in driving it some more!


Other Items vs. E90

- G20 is longer, but not wider. Garage parking (two-car one door garage) was no different.
- E90 feels lighter (which it absolutely is). You could feel the heft if you paid attention but only as long as the E90 was in your mind. By the time I got home, I'm not really noticing it. I might see it again after tackling some good roads.
- 8AT requires much more thought about moving it about and this slows reactions down in precise maneuvers at slow speed (i.e., reverse parking).
- E90 is much LOUDER than G20 on stock exhaust on both. Golf tee mod, here I come!
- G20 has more power and more economy that E90 (duh). It's shocking though, 28 MPG highway on my old car, 34 MPG highway on the new!

I must say, I was surprised how quickly all the sensations and feelings I had honed for 7 years vanishes upon getting a new ride! Before it all goes away, please let me know if there's any more questions you have on impressions from E90 to G20!


Conclusion

The years have taken their toll on the E90 in the realm of technology inside the car and in the drivetrain, but the drive is still fabulous. BMW may be losing the pure driving core that got them to where they are now, but the purity has been blended with ease-of-use and adaptability. From my very first E46, I adored the fact that the car could simply transform from a comfortable quiet cruiser to a snarling sports-sedan just by dropping some gears. The G20 continues and expands this concept by offering all the sport you could reasonably want and blending it with quiet comfort when you need it.

-------------------

So there you have it. A worthy successor to the E90 - my final stick-shift car, me who spent 20 years convincing, cajoling and trumpeting the virtues of a standard. How did it come to this point? Well, for those who don't mind listening to my life story, please read on. I do have pics because it all happened!

=========================

5 Month Update!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Alpine535Msport View Post
Could you give us an update on the ride/handling/steering after having the vehicle for quite some time now?

I have a 2018 G30 540i lease coming to an end and I am thinking of leasing an M340i but still on the line.
Absolutely! Consider this my 5 month update.

The Looks and the Interior (updated!)

In the months since we have seen the G22, I will simply start with: I absolutely love them!

Those who have seen my other posts know I value the traditional BMW styling as the perfect fusion of elegance and athleticism.

This is NOT that.

The styling is perfectly suited to the character of the car. It's loud and brash enough to hint at the power and performance hidden beneath. The stance isn't super-low but it has the right air of menace and aggression.

Yet, with the cerium accents it also presents very well as a calm, quiet luxury car. It nails the duality that I have always loved about classic BMW. It's too modern and vulgar to be appreciated by all as a beautiful design, as the E46, E39 and E38 all still do. I plan to enhance this aspect by replacing the cerium mirror caps with Black Sapphire Metallic, leaving the brightwork below the beltline and allowing the lines to enhance the moving while standing design aspects.

I came to understand the angular nature of the design as I hand-washed the car. The creases and lines were strong and lent solidity to the design, especially the transition of the curved front fender on the E90 to a more angular design. Matching with the triangles in the headlights, it builds the aggression up. Even the triangles in the cerium mesh grille contribute to this. It's a joy to wash most of the car, just the fake vents on the back are a bit of an annoyance!

Like many modern car designs (Civic Type-R for example), this design may not age well for many years if at all. However, as a marker of the times this still suits me fine. It is the final fusion of the old BMW design language with the new so I now consider it to be the final classically styled BMW. That said, I believe it is the G30 that will age the best of the G cars.

The interior is honestly one of the best I've ever experienced even despite being handicapped by modern technology requirements such as the screen. The straight lines are so Teutonic and gives the cabin an air of simplicity while keeping it modern. I take simple joy out of placing my phone in the inductive charger and closing the cupholder lid, leaving an unbroken expanse of textured aluminum mesh. For the first time in a BMW sedan, I have enough space for everything, from cupholders that actually work, to water bottle pockets, to a cavernous console armrest, to a hidden pouch to the left of the steering wheel (if you haven't found it don't be discouraged, I only found it a month ago!)

The seats are well contoured and supportive, with my wife claiming they are much more comfortable than my E90 MSport seats. I've had no issues with them on long 2 hour+ drives and they certainly hold me properly while cornering! The Black and Blue stitching is a joy to see every day, and always reminds me that I am in a special car.

The pockets in the back of the seats were a welcome surprise and have seen quite a bit of use with my toddler son in the back in his carseat (Diono Radian, fits perfectly forward facing). There's also plenty of space back there and the three-zone climate control was a nice bonus.

I got the spare, which cuts down on cargo room by a lot. I've been meaning to replace my trunk floor to remove the spare but haven't. That forced me to live with the limits and I found some unexpected bonuses as a result. My Costco shopping fits just fine in there and secures itself quite well even while driving spiritedly. Because of the raised floor, it has made two pocketed spaces on the sides of the trunks, which will easily fit items you don't want sliding around in the trunk!

And of course there is still the digital cluster... which we'll discuss later.

The Drive and the Feel (updated!)

The car doesn't drive like my E90 did, full stop. It's too sterile, too digital. However, BMW has done a great job faking it.

Sports+ is a must, apologize to your neighbors for the crackles and pops if you are like me. But you NEED Sports+, at least Sports Individual with everything in Plus if you want to keep DSC on (and you might!) Let me explain.

First two are easy. Gearbox in Sports+ for faster shifting and the ability to prevent auto-upshift in manual mode. Engine in Sports+ not for the crackles and pops (a bonus though if you love 'em), but for the near NA responsiveness! Definitely most responsive turbo car I've driven yet! That coupled together with Sports steering makes a confident return of "the ultimate driving machine"!

The steering in Comfort is fine, especially on long journeys. It also seems to have excellent precision and certainly can be used spiritedly. What it lacks however is feedback.

Sports steering has ARTIFICIAL FEEL. It's very clear that you are experiencing a simulation of what the tires are doing while accelerating and cornering. The sad thing is... it works, and works WELL.

Your true source of feel in the car is actually in your bum. The seats do a phenomenal job of allowing you to feel the chassis flex and twist, at least in passive M-Sport suspension form. And from that you realize that the steering is a half-step behind but it matches that sensation. When you concentrate and put it all together mentally, it works. After enough time driving you stop noticing the individual parts and it comes together. Then you can start really seeing what this car can do.

It is FAST. The transmission needs to be at proper temperature to have smooth shifts when pushing it ("Hey Christy, turn on the sports display!"), and the auto will always shift faster than you. I don't care. It's so much fun to flip the paddles and manage the RPM, it really is the best of both worlds for me. I actually started using the console shifter as it goes the perfect direction (forward for downshifts, back for upshifts) and it makes it MORE FUN since you have to put your whole arm in it! It's exhilarating!

The M-Diff also makes cornering at WAY higher speeds than before a breeze. I love onramps even more now! The car stays stable in corners and exits with gusto and stability. Would love to take this car to the track and see what it can really do!

The ride on passive suspension is harsher at first but you get used to it. I think I actually blame the 19s for it a bit more, I'm on Michelin PS4S. On runflats it might be a bit choppier than some would like.

The power is great but also very much to be respected. She will light up the rear easily if she gets unsettled by a bumpy corner. The nannies will keep you safe but beware if you turn them off. However, there is so much control that I am confident she will serve my secondary purpose of building me into a better driver during my time with her!

So sport is covered, what about relaxation? Yes, she can do it quite easily and in so doing turns into a different car. Keep the gearbox in D, keep the steering in Comfort and lay off the paddles. You will suddenly find your sports sedan settle into a sedate isolation chamber with smooth ride and cornering and no louder than any other luxury car. I made it a rule to go complete comfort when driving through neighborhoods with kids and families and she just behaves like any other car. That stealth/Jekyl & Hyde aspect is absolutely one of my favorite things about BMW and cements this car in my mind as a true BMW.

The Tech (updated!)

I've only marginally adjusted the Driver Assistant features, as a bonus the green circle is now matching the orange of my ambient lighting

The biggest change I found when driving narrow two-lane country lanes with poor markings, I had to turn lane keep steering intervention off as it was steering me into the other lane with potential oncoming which is patently dangerous. Note this is the passive feature, not the one which activates when adaptive cruise is up. This passive "safety" feature is NOT ready for use safely in the real world!!

On the other hand, my blindspot monitor and array of cameras has proven instrumental as an AID, not a replacement for my eyes. It's caught several kids playing on sidewalks as I back out which would have been too low for my eyes to see. The cameras have also been instrumental in drive-throughs to avoid curbing the wheels.

The biggest surprise to me was what a game-changer Adaptive Cruise from Driving Assistant Pro is. It solves two very large issues. One, it almost completely eliminates driver fatigue on long journeys. Two, when activating Assisted Driving in the appropriate circumstances it allows you to have even better situational awareness because you're free to monitor 360 degrees around you with your eyes. It sharpens your focus as well, I've had several situations which I saw building far ahead of me that I could focus on better simply because the car took the mental edge off of me. I look forward to the inevitable technological improvements.

Side benefit as well... much harder to get a speeding ticket in daily grind freeway traffic!

iDrive continues to be the easiest and least distracting infotainment system of all of them and by a long way. I can find everything I need now by feel or by voice command. The screen is large and contains all the info I need at a glance depending on the mode I am in. I customized my layout into zones, Map/Route Info/Entertainment, Sports Displays/Trip Info, and Compass/Time/Weather. These three screens are everything I need. I do wish oil temperature was on the main screen but I can get to it easily via the sports display. It's usually the first thing I ask for when starting to drive.

Which leads us nicely to the elephant in the room... the digital gauge cluster.

5 months on, my opinion stands. I hate this thing, not so much for what it is but for what it's loss represents. BMW gave up a perfectly legible, extremely information dense display for a piece of design which will age terribly.

Oh, I can do everything I want with it! But it just doesn't fit the needs of a driver's car. My adjustments to get the features I either already had or took for granted are as follows:

1. Change OBC display to show instant/average MPG. Needed to drive the car daily in Sports Individual, this data is normally seen in ECOPRO and Comfort, but NOT here. Loved having this front and center in the E90. In a way, the information provided is better as it shows both instant and average on the same place, but the graphic is jarring with the curves on the side. Just put the damn thing where it was (which requires an analog speedo, so that won't happen).

2. Recognize you'll not drive manually beyond 4000 RPM. The design of the angled tach has the wheel cutting off the outermost sides and edges of the tach so effectively your RPM starts disappearing past 4000 RPM. Sometimes in manual I feel I've driving a torquey diesel! This is compensated for with having RPM in the heads-up display and I find myself using that tach much more often. The Sports shift lights also help (as does the sheer engine song of course!)

3. Disabled the map in the cluster. While in concept, this was cool, ultimately it was too distracting. When I needed it, I could check in the main iDrive display. I replaced it with a blank screen.

4. Missed opportunity: reduced mode customization. This was to be the perfect mode. The tach is simplified to a proportional line with no markings and the speedo as well with a big digital speed indicator. It effectively erases the noise but without the ability to add in simple items like MPG, I couldn't use it regularly.

The Final Word

I LOVE THIS CAR! It's a worthy successor to the great driving 3-series before it. Despite the "sabotage" modern trends have saddled it with, it remains at its core a spectacular drivers car. I will be keeping mine a long time!
__________________
"Christy" - 2020 BMW M340i 8AT BSM / Black&BlueStitching
Gone! "Edna" - 2011 BMW 335i 6MT TiAg / BlackOyster - M-Sport, Premium, Comfort Access, Navigation, Heated Seats, Rollerblinds
R.I.P. "Heidi" - 2005 BMW 330xi 6MT BSM / Black - Sport, Premium, Cold Weather, Harmon Kardon, Navigation

Last edited by -EndOfAnEra-; 08-12-2020 at 11:30 AM.. Reason: Updated with 5-month impressions!
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      04-02-2020, 12:53 AM   #2
-EndOfAnEra-
Second Lieutenant
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Drives: 2020 M340i RWD
Join Date: May 2008
Location: Cleveland, OH

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A Tale of Two Accords




V6, leather, auto to I4, cloth, 5MT
not my cars but you get the idea!

I first experienced the joy of a manual transmission way back when I was seventeen. My parents (European immigrants) felt that although they were satisfied with automatics my brother and I should learn stick. At lease turn in of their 1995 black Accord EX V6, they decided to get a short 1 year lease of an 1997 Accord LX with a manual. My brother and I were excited to learn and quickly bonded with the car. This seemed remarkable in light of the significant horsepower and interior trim differences. Yet, I found that ultimately the power didn't matter compared to the sheer mixed joy and shame as I got each shift right and as I stalled the car, again, and again, and again.

I stuck with it and gradually felt everything getting better, stronger, more confident and easier. And as a short-term lease of course eventually we had to give up the car. My Mom picked up then her early 2000s VW Beetle, and that's when I realized something was missing that I couldn't get back any other way.

I dealt with occasionally driving that car (and experiencing early 2000s VW reliability!) until I finished college. My parents graciously gifted me with a lease of a new car. I realized then that I was going to once again have a stick-shift! I found myself in a 2006 Honda Civic EX with the 5-speed manual.


The Handshake





I knew then I had made the right choice, and quickly found that the unmatched control, feel, and pulse the stick-shift granted the car was now inseperable from my driving. I loved how much it helped me grow as a driver. I would experience several trials with this car that tested my car-control to the ragged edge, including a winter road-rage incident with a truck that could have killed me by ramming me off the road but instead properly downshifting allowed me to regain traction and avoid a very bad incident. From this, I became convinced that everyone must drive stick to be truly safe, and that led me to evangelize: "The stick-shift is the safest way to drive, with the least distractions and the most control". I became somewhat unpopular with normal folk

3 years passed quickly and lease end happened, and here the dream took off. I wanted a BMW since my father had an E28 525i briefly in the 80s. I found, as likely some of you did, that I could have a used BMW for the same price as another new Civic. I loved my Civic and was nervous about getting too much car too fast, but one test drive of an black on black, burl walnut trim E46 2005 330xi sealed the deal. The car had two minds, a mind for comfortable luxury cruising, and a mind for ripping your face off with a snarly I6 and snick-snick shifts. So quiet and then so loud! I practically bought it on the spot. She came to be known as Heidi.


First Love Lost




What's an SUV?

With a true RWD biased chassis, mind you certainly not S704 (later), my joy at driving and my skill skyrocketed. I began experiencing the joy of properly revmatched downshifts, the urge to spin the engine out to 6000 daily, and finding that fully controlled engine-braking literally made winter driving as fun as summer, especially once you could kick the tail out! I was set to have that lovely car for eternity. I learned to wrench on that car, first for cost savings and then for joy. And then of course life had to remind me that nothing lasts forever.




In 2014, my house and garage flooded after we lived there only 2 years, a first for the house and the area during the most severe thunderstorm I am ever likely to experience. Both I and my fiancee's cars were decimated by three feet of water. My pride and joy, my first BMW, was unsavable and I had to bid good-bye to my first love. I salvaged the weighted ZHP shift knob which represented the only mod I ever got to do to that car.



Oh, did I mention that the flood happened literally ONE WEEK before I was set to get married?! The wedding was a destination wedding with a whirlwind of preparation, a solemn gathering, a fun party and afterparty, and then the very next morning my new wife and I sprawled on our beds with laptops, cellphones and Autotrader desparately negotiating with insurance companies for a good value for our lost cars and hunting down the next ones. I was sure I would never have another love quite like Heidi again...


The Silver Medal



Enter Edna. It took three weeks of hunting once I got back in Cleveland, but then I found her in New Jersey. A 2011 335i RWD MSport 6MT. I was a fool, thinking I was "settling" for this 30,000 mile CPO, in Oyster over Titanium Silver with Burl Walnut (I wanted black over blue with aluminum!). I wanted RWD because I felt that was the only way to grow my driving skills further. I wanted MSport because I had been on enough forums by now for all of you to proselytize the magic of the BMW sports suspension, option S704. I named her Edna because I thought the E90 was ugly and I never wanted one while I had my E46, I wanted to go straight to the F30. As it happened, the love grew over time, and taught me a very valuable lesson that beauty is only skin deep but love goes much deeper than that.



Edna taught me what a truly balanced RWD chassis was. Edna taught me that the new turbo era of BMW may have lost some soul, but gained some astonishing capabilities in return. I felt her shrink around me in the corners. I learned the first inklings of weight distribution and balancing the car on the throttle, honed my revmatching to an art form and taught me how important steering feel is in planting the car exactly where you want it. And as much as I love her, Edna set the stage for the decisions that I made.


The Turning Point

Let's briefly discuss the NA vs turbo inline six. The NA six had a fantastic sound that you heard all the time because you needed to rev her to 4000 to get any usable power, hence shifting was not just fun but necessary to get the full measure of that engine. The turbo-6 has torque early on, so simply planting your foot down usually gives all the thrust you might need in daily driving. And while this is convenient, you tend to downshift less because of it especially on the highway. I realized that the turbo-6 era was naturally not as well suited to the stick-shift as the NA inline six was. And as my career took me to new places, traffic increased and made daily driving my stick more of a challenge. Still, I resolutely stuck with it, knowing I could never have the same car control and fun to drive factor with an automatic.

Then one day, that changed. I had to bring Edna to the dealer to have the Takata airbag recall done. They set me up for the day with a slightly better than base loaner, an F30 328xi Sport Line. I'm not expecting miracles, I'm grateful for a decent car to get to work in. Still, I'd heard by now of some of the former stick-shift faithful abandoning their perfect gearbox for this new-fangled ZF 8-speed. I figured, let's throw it in sport, throw the lever to the side and see whats up. Of course, I would drive it exclusively with paddles!

The first thing I noticed is that paddles shift MUCH faster than me. That made sense but what I didn't realize was just how much fun fast shifting can be! Bang, a gear! Bang, another gear! It was almost immediate, and I suddenly realized that here was a thing my car, no matter how good I was at it, simply could not do. I had my next surprise when I stopped manually shifting and just left it in S mode. The car upshifted and downshifted exactly as I would have done if I was manually controlling it! The same corners, the same downshifts, the same patterns! It was as if it was reading my mind! Not to mention without constant focus on gears, you can improve your steering and lines and focus on your braking and throttle techniques!

I came away from this experience thoroughly impressed but not yet willing to put my trust in technology. No, the final act of this begins with the birth of my son.


End Of An Era

I had come to love Edna, and hoped to keep her forever. Why wouldn't I? She proved to be just as wonderful as dear departed Heidi, a trusted steed and friend on those wonderful drives we used to have. It's easy to make promises to yourself when you're younger, like say when you sign up for forums saying, "I will drive a stick for life."

Children change EVERYTHING. I heard the clarion call of SUV, SAV, crossover, I refused to listen. I knew I could comfortably keep my son secure in his carseat in my E90, maybe upgrade to my lifelong dream of an E39 M5 for more space if needed. And I was all set to do that but something kept nagging me. My wife didn't drive stickshift and despite many attempts at learning didn't want to break my car learning on it. Then, she had two not-at-fault accidents in the span of two months and I realized I no longer had a choice. I needed an automatic for my wife to drive and I needed the safest car possible for my son.

Four doors was a necessity, that left out the M2 Competition (absolutely the finest fun-to-drive BMW sold today). Active Cruise had proven itself to me on several long trips in other people's cars, so that was now required and that reluctantly killed the F80 M3 (and I could never choose the DCT over the stick in that car!) I drove the 540xi, the X3 M40i and the G20 Sport Line and MSport XDrive (M340i wasn't out yet). I loved the 540 but it just felt too big for me. I was shocked how much I loved the X3 M40i but it drove even more its size than the 5. And while the toys on the G20 330 were great, I wasn't ready to give up the glorious BMW inline-six. So the M340i almost selected itself by default, but it took drives of both the RWD and XDrive versions and a comparison with the C43 AMG (which some of you may recall) for me to realize, this is OK.

I am finally at peace with my decision. The wait was agony and the realization that I can have half the cake and eat it too is good enough. I'm super excited for ownership, I feel the M340i will go down in history alongside the 1M and the M2 Competition as one of the all time great modern BMWs. I'm hoping to read this again in five years and see if that actually happened.

And who knows? Kids leave the house someday. There might still be a manual M2 Competition, an E39 M5, an E46 M3 or a Z4M in my future! Thanks to all of you who stuck through what is likely the longest post I will ever do!

Now as I pass into a new phase of my driving career, an acknowledgement of the change I have accepted is warranted. I am no longer StickForLife. Henceforth I shall be known as -EndOfAnEra- . To the rest of you diehard manual lovers both secure and conflicted with your choices, I only say - try a ZF8 or DCT. You may be surprised what you learn.

Remember when I salvaged that ZHP shift knob? Heidi's final gift to me will now live on in all my future cars, safely ensconced in the glovebox as a reminder of how I got to where I am now.

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R.I.P. "Heidi" - 2005 BMW 330xi 6MT BSM / Black - Sport, Premium, Cold Weather, Harmon Kardon, Navigation

Last edited by -EndOfAnEra-; 04-02-2020 at 08:54 AM.. Reason: Minor miscalculation...
      04-02-2020, 01:00 AM   #3
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Nice write up and thanks for sharing the manual version of the E90, two thing you are going to miss are analog gauges and manual shifter on the new G20. Congrat on the new ride.
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      04-02-2020, 01:01 AM   #4
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Nice write up and thanks for sharing the manual version of the E90, two thing you are going to miss are analog gauges and manual shifter on the new G20. Congrat on the new ride.
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      04-02-2020, 01:28 AM   #5
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Nice write up and thanks for sharing the manual version of the E90, two thing you are going to miss are analog gauges and manual shifter on the new G20. Congrat on the new ride.
Thanks! Of the former, I already do and likely always will. Of the latter I absolutely agree... but for how long? We shall see!
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      04-02-2020, 01:59 AM   #6
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That was a nice read! Congratulations on your new car
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      04-02-2020, 03:18 AM   #7
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I wish I had bought an e90 back in the day.

I had a bunch of other random cars and the e90 was just the perfect size. A friend of mine sold his 2007 E90 335i 6mt maybe 2-3 months ago.

So another friend was like , you guys both got new cars you why are you talking about your 335i still. And I go... I got an m340i, he got a minivan ... a minivan is not a new car, its giving up.

My friend with the e90 still misses that car, it was the perfect size, like I love my m340i don't get me wrong, but I've driven other peoples e90s, and given I generally at most have 2 other people in my car, the extra size of the G20 is just extra.
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      04-02-2020, 05:33 AM   #8
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Thank you for sharing and well written. I too, will be replacing my 2007 E90 335i hopefully here in a few weeks with M340xi. I've owned mine 13.5 years. Cheers and good health to you!
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      04-02-2020, 08:39 AM   #9
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That was a nice read! Congratulations on your new car
Thanks!

Quote:
Originally Posted by hans007 View Post
My friend with the e90 still misses that car, it was the perfect size, like I love my m340i don't get me wrong, but I've driven other peoples e90s, and given I generally at most have 2 other people in my car, the extra size of the G20 is just extra.
Thanks, I feel you. One of the big reasons I felt OK with going to the G20 was that it was the size of an E39 5-series. Everytime I drove an E39 I was like, "This car is the perfect size, not too small, not too large."

I felt that BMW engineers sought to emulate the E39 M5 with this car, knowing they could never hit that mark. Almost the same power, made up for by being not as heavy (in RWD form) and ironically the M5 was never known for steering feel either! Since I had to give up having my dream M5, this car was a natural choice for me.

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Thank you for sharing and well written. I too, will be replacing my 2007 E90 335i hopefully here in a few weeks with M340xi. I've owned mine 13.5 years. Cheers and good health to you!
Cheers and thanks! Looking forward to your impressions!
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      04-02-2020, 11:03 AM   #10
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Love the 340i.
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      04-02-2020, 11:09 AM   #11
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      04-02-2020, 11:18 AM   #12
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Congrats on the new car and a great story as well, I love that you keep the ZHP knob in the glove box.

My E46 wasn't my first BMW, but similar to your G20 it was the first I had bought new and spec'd to my liking and had stayed with me the longest (14 years and 200k+ miles), and the one I loved the most, and have the most memories with, even taught both of my sons how to drive stick with it. Sadly I lost it to the dreaded cooling system and failed head gaskets 2 years ago, and I still miss it everyday. My wife currently still drives a manual in the M2 after having an auto E90 335 for 8 years, and I think I might make my way back to a manual again in the future before they die out eventually as I do miss it, even with these amazing auto transmissions.
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      04-02-2020, 11:24 AM   #13
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Congrats man!

I had 92 Accord manual. Fun times!

I still have hard time accepting G20. I think the drivetrain is good but the exterior design and interior dash design is not that good/appealing and size is an issue.

However, I do believe that e46/e90 folks have only thre choices G20 330i, 340i and m2 comp as you mentioned as well.

I came to the point of actually checking out Alfa Romeo Gulia. If BMW made the new 3 series similar to AR we would have E9x successors, I think. I would take AR interior layout any day over G20. That cluster is a no go period!

If anybody has AR experince please chime in!


Would you mind posting a pic of the trunk with spare in it?

GL and enjoy the next driving chapter!
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      04-02-2020, 11:25 AM   #14
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Absolutely fantastically written. Enjoy in good health. Thank you for taking the time to give us an in-depth deep dive.
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      04-02-2020, 11:29 AM   #15
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If BMW made the new 3 series similar to AR we would have E9x successors, I think.
100% Agree, I've driven both the regular Ti Sport (4-Cylinder) and Quadrifoglio models and they feel exactly like where the E9X left off except for the brakes which are by wire for some odd reason. But the chassis, body control, and ride and handling balance is spot on, and the steering is one of the best racks I've experienced in any EPS car when it comes to feedback, and the super-quick ratio is really fun and engaging. From what I hear the 4-cylinder model is more reliable, but of course YMMV. I would love to see a non-QF V6 model (and some improved reliability) but the Giulia is a real Italian sweetheart.
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      04-02-2020, 12:33 PM   #16
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Thanks for the write-up and congrats on the new car!
It was a nice read while. I recently had to part with my e90 as well. I liked the tight handling and steering feel of the car, but I had to part ways with it. I got a F36 gran coupe instead of the G20, but it is great to hear that the G20 still has good handling. Cheers!
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      04-02-2020, 12:33 PM   #17
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Excellent, well-written write up! I'm considering an M340i once the lease on my 2018 Accord Sport ends. My weekend car is an E46 M3 and I'm considering, among others, an E90 M3 (DCT for the wife), F80 M3 (DCT) or the M340i.

I look forward to hearing/reading more about your experiences. Keep up the good work and congrats on the new car. She's a beaut!
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      04-02-2020, 12:41 PM   #18
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Congrats on the new ride!

I had a similar path but haven't quite come to terms of relieving my left leg of it's driving duties just yet...
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      04-02-2020, 12:54 PM   #19
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Going from silver to black.... oh you poor soul. I had a black car once. Never again.
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      04-02-2020, 12:56 PM   #20
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Nice write up! You definitely chose the right 3 series for your upgrade. My M340i xDrive is primarily for the wife but I've been driving it to work (hospital) during the quarantine and have come to learn how massively impressive this car is. It's not perfect but it is quite a joy to drive. And the POWER. It's stupid fast really.

I came out of an E92 M3 and here is my write up from that overlap.
https://g20.bimmerpost.com/forums/sh....php?t=1651973

Currently our SQ5 is my primary driver but lease ending soon and looking to pick up an X3M.

Enjoy the new ride!
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      04-02-2020, 01:03 PM   #21
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I like how you keep the shift knob. I'm on my third E90 from 335i to E90 M3 and I can't see myself out of the BMW E series chasis. But your 340i looks damn good enjoy it!! I also look forward to owning a new bmw one day.
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      04-02-2020, 01:16 PM   #22
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I cried
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