Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Test drive - BMW 325i Sports.

Although the 325i Sports had been launched quite sometime ago, nevertheless you don't see many on the road. Priced at a hefty RM300,000 over, I guess it's not something you'd just consider off the rack.

Got a chance to try my hands on this muscle wheels (again, 'muscle' here is relative...) and surprise, surprise, what a comfortable drive. A little too comfortable perhaps for a 2.5 branded M sports? The car felt surprisingly light with no second consideration to the load of 5 adults on top of a kerb weight of 1,460kg. It's a four-door, with a backside yet it was a feathery compared to say, a Golf GTI. During pickup, you could hear the unbelievably light 6-cylinder Double VANOS engine purr as you floor the pedal. The usage of magnesium lead to significant weight reduction to the engine but somehow, the grunt delivered was less than satisfactory, well at least for me. Instead of reciprocating with a low willful growl when you provoke the 325 from zero to hundred, a higher pitch of what sounds like an electronic hum was produced. Nevertheless, the acceleration was responsive clocking in a 7.7s (manufacturer's claim) producing a maximum output of 218bhp at a high rpm of 6,500 but a fairly low rpm torque of 250Nm at 2,750. A GTI for example, will achieve maximum speed quicker but will still be outran by one of these gentlemen sports.

Corner handling was nice, almost expected from the B badge who pride themselves on 50:50 equal weight distribution build. But I was pretty sure bends can be handled at a much higher pace than the usual BMW test drive 80km/h ;) I thought pushing this well-groomed sedan through corners is the only way to see if its feathery weight is friend or foe. Well, I didn't. It's not my car.

The interior is driver oriented with minimal trimming. What needs to be there is there. What doesn't, doesn't. The 325i Sports came with the innovative iDrive with BMW Navigation System Professional, first in its class when launched in 2007. The new screen come with finer resolutions providing crisp clear visibility. Wanna get lost? Not a chance ;) The one I test drove, had a bluish grey leather interior which adds on to the 'executive' feel that masqueraded its aggressiveness well. The steering wheel is no good for those who prefer pizza-pan-sized ones such as the Volvos and Camrys. In fact, it is smaller and fuller in grip compared even to the Golf GTI, which I thought felt pretty substantial already. The steering is responsive with great maneuverability but lacks the driver's punch. I think the word they use is called 'refinement'. Uh.

The stability of the vehicle was well-tested when strong emergency braking is enforced - well-behaved and glided to a complete stop without throwing up all the passengers thanks to the Dynamic Stability Control system with additional functions of ABS, DTC and CBC to stabilize the vehicle when it detects swerving risks in miliseconds. Not something which you'd try on a daily basis but a close call recently on a rainy highway really made me thank God for safety engineers and technologies such as these.

All in all, a very well-mannered and handsome sedan in every angle with no excess fat, though I feel it could have been a little more athletic for a 2.5. Personally, I think it's nice to ride something you respect and gain its esteem in return. It's almost like you exchange polite greetings, get to know one another before taking it out on the road - get dirty, fist fight and then obtain that victorious and exhilarating satisfaction of having conquered one another. This 325, I'm afraid, is a little tame. Maybe a 335 with twin turbo is a more convincing Jekyll hiding in Hyde?

My photos don't justify its good looks. Here's something for you to revel in ;)

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