Short Take - 2004 BMW 330i with Performance Package

Discussion in 'OT Driven' started by TriShield, Sep 26, 2003.

  1. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    It's not an M3. But it does have four doors

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    BY TONY SWAN
    PHOTOGRAPHY BY JEFFREY G. RUSSELL
    September 2003

    During the early days of the E36 3-series production run (1992- 99), a BMW product planner came up with a radical idea. Returning from a Lamaze class with his wife, and contemplating impending parenthood, he said, "Perhaps we need a four-door model in the M3 lineup."

    Radical, yes, but the concept found favor with top management, and the first-ever four-door M3 joined the lineup for the '97 model year. In the U.S., at least, the experiment was a success. Even though the four-door E36 went out of production in May 1998 to make room for the new E46 3-series sedans, 7760 were sold in 1997 and '98, accounting for more than 46 percent of M3 sales in the U.S. for those two years.

    With that kind of track record, you might have expected to see a four-door M3 in the new body style. Nein. Owing to the need for extensive body revisions (read "fenders") to accommodate the M wheels and tires, BMW balked. Unlike the E36, the E46 four-door shares very little sheetmetal with the coupe and convertible. Since the U.S. was the only market with strong four-door M3 sales, the business case didn't add up. If you wanted M3 performance but you needed four portals, you were out of luck.

    That's still true, but for about four grand, you can be a little less out of luck than before. That's the price of BMW's new Performance package, a collection of cosmetic and mechanical upgrades that make a 330i four-door quicker and slicker.

    Cosmetic elements include a so-called aerodynamic package (deeper air-dam and rocker-panel extensions), Alcantara faux-suede seats and steering-wheel cover, black-anodized interior aluminum trim, and gauges with red needles. Reduced to verbiage, it sounds a little glitzy, but BMW's execution is subdued and tasteful.

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    In any case, it's the go-faster bits that set this enhanced Bimmer apart from the rest of the 330i establishment. The list includes reprogrammed engine management, hotter cams, a six-speed manual gearbox (a first for a non-M 3-series BMW), and a shorter final-drive ratio—3.07:1 versus the 2.93:1 rear end used in the base 330i with manual transmission.

    The suspension components are a smidge stiffer than the setup in the base 330i, and the Performance package gets an 18-inch wheel-and-tire combo versus 17-inch wheels on the standard version. The package also substitutes Michelin Pilot Sport tires for the Continental ContiSportContacts that come in the Sport package, with a slightly lower profile and slightly bigger rear footprints: 225/40ZR-18 front and 255/35ZR-18 rear compared with the Sport's 225/45ZR-17 front and 245/40ZR-17 rear.

    The engine tweaks don't add up to much—the redline goes up 300 rpm to 6800, peak horsepower goes up 10 to 235, and torque goes up eight pound-feet to 222. But a little more thrust and shorter gearing do pay off at the track. Our Performance-package 330i sprinted to 60 mph in 5.6 seconds and covered the quarter-mile in 14.3 seconds at 97 mph.

    The quickest 330i test times we've recorded prior to exercising this enhanced edition came in our first instrumented encounter with the 3.0-liter 3-series back in December 2000: 0 to 60 in 6.1 seconds, the quarter in 14.8 at 95 mph. More contact patch pays off on the skidpad, where the Performance-package Bimmer pulled 0.86 g (compared with 0.83 in '00), and also in braking—158 feet from 70 mph versus 168.

    On the subjective front, firmer suspension tuning, lower-profile tires, and reduced (by 0.6 inch) ride height add up to responses that are quicker than the base 330i's. The distinction isn't vast—a little less body roll, a little more enthusiasm in brisk direction changes—but it's noticeable. And the tuners have managed to achieve this without any real sacrifice in comfort. None of your hard-edged M3 ride here.

    Of course, there's none of your hard-edged M3 go power, either.
    The last M3 we put through its paces hustled to 60 in 4.8 seconds and covered the quarter in 13.6 seconds at 105 mph—pretty much what you'd expect from 333 horsepower.

    Obviously, you don't get that with the Performance package. But you do get a nice uptick in all-around performance, with virtually no sacrifice in comfort, and of course four doors, for about seven grand less than you'd have to pony up for an M3 coupe. That's a pretty good start on a college fund for the new baby. —Tony Swan

    Vehicle type: front-engine, rear-wheel-drive, 5-passenger, 4-door sedan
    Price as tested: $40,095 (base price: $35,495)
    Engine type: DOHC 24-valve 6-in-line, aluminum block and head, port fuel injection
    Displacement: 182 cu in, 2979cc
    Power (SAE net): 235 bhp @ 5900 rpm
    Torque (SAE net): 222 lb-ft @ 3500 rpm

    Transmission: 6-speed manual
    Wheelbase: 107.3 in
    Length/width/height: 176.0/68.5/55.1 in
    Curb weight: 3370 lb
    Zero to 60 mph: 5.6 sec
    Zero to 100 mph: 15.3 sec

    Street start, 5-60 mph: 6.4 sec
    Standing 1/4-mile: 14.3 sec @ 97 mph
    Top speed (drag limited): 152 mph
    Braking, 70-0 mph: 158 ft
    Roadholding, 300-ft-dia skidpad: 0.86 g

    EPA fuel economy, city driving: 21 mpg
    C/D-observed fuel economy: 20 mpg

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  2. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    I want one. :o
     
  3. M4A1

    M4A1 :)

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    :yum: I'll take one in black please.
     
  4. sanjay

    sanjay New Member

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    they need to make the g35 6 speed sedan meaner looking to compete with that

    :hs:
     
  5. DMClark

    DMClark Active Member

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  6. ethyl

    ethyl R-CH2-CH3

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    But you don't get all the cool M emblems :hs:


    I'd still hit it over my shitty 323
     
  7. SlowNegative

    SlowNegative Her name is Rio

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    I've been trying to choose between ordering this or an M3. 330i /P is a very nice car.
     
  8. court-jester

    court-jester I love dykes

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    doesnt make sense to buy this thing if a m3 is only 7 grand more
     
  9. a red heart

    a red heart Guest

  10. interstate

    interstate New Member

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    3 series BMWs are my favorite! THeyre just to freaking expensive. :rant2:
     
  11. 01Mcoupe3.2

    01Mcoupe3.2 OT Supporter

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    I still <3 BMW. :hs:
     
  12. coronet

    coronet Do Andriods Dream of Electric Sheep?

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  13. MeAmEddie

    MeAmEddie My car goes Whooosh psst

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    I know someone selling two

    Silver 330i - $28k
    Black 330ci - $35k

    :o
     
  14. jinushaun

    jinushaun New Member

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    It's okay. Not worth the 4g IMO.
     
  15. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    I'm in the same dilemma.

    I really like this car more than I should. Deceptively fast too.
     
  16. thunny

    thunny Guest

    Because 7 grand is pocket change huh Mr. Moneybags? :rolleyes:
     
  17. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    Ha ha.
     
  18. Y2kAccord

    Y2kAccord Everything happens for reasons I just dont know

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    I was looking at BMW's but how come everyone who drives one thinks they are hot Shit and own the road...
     
  19. jinushaun

    jinushaun New Member

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    German > Japanese > American :dunno:
     
  20. Elex

    Elex Guest

    meh whats up with non matching body trim.

    id just get a 330ci coupe
     
  21. SlickStick

    SlickStick New Member

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    For most people buying a new BMW, spending 47k wouldn't be much different then spending 40k.
     
  22. jinushaun

    jinushaun New Member

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    Some people like 4 doors more than 2 doors. I myself included. Too bad BMW never made a e46 M3 saloon... :wtc:
     
  23. ChosenGSR

    ChosenGSR Mama always said you'd be the chosen one

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  24. FusionITR

    FusionITR New Member

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    I wish I could get that :yum:
     
  25. 40 fucking thousand?

    Fuck that.
     

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