We picked up our 323i last Saturday from Cutter Motors in Santa Barbara,CA and have already clocked 1K miles on it. The trip from SB to San Jose, where we live was by far the best drive I've ever had in my life. The 300 miles took us flat four hours and the sheer comfort and driving experience didn't even make it necessary for us to have a rest break.
I am listing down some of my observations during the last one week of owning the car.
1. Knock wood, I haven't felt any of the steering wheel vibrations that has been spoken about on the board.
2. Steering was a little stiff for the first seven-eight hundred miles, tho, I can feel it getting better now.
3. Brake dust has been a pain, guess investing in such a driving experience requires the investment of appropriate time to keep the car looking new. Luckily for me, my wife too is a cleanliness freak and we usually clean it together. Great bonding experience :-). Needless to say, neighbors think we've gone mad.
4. The on-board computer is really useful and so are the rear fold-down seats.
5. The boot space is rather neat and so is the engine compartment.
6. The miles-to-go before service reading is so personalized, really like that I don't have to rely on standard service requirements before heading to the service center. The car adjusts this reading based on the driving habits of the driver of the car.
7. The first roll of snaps came in, some of the pictures do look cool. Will post them on the board later.
8. The response is a wee bit slow in the lower shifts (auto transmission). Sweet spots are in the 25-40 mph and 55-100 mph speed ranges.
Small features (insignificant from a COGS perspective) that I feel the car should incorporate are :
* Do something about the steering wheel placement, when I tilt it towards me, it obstructs the line of sight of some of the readings on the cockpit.
* Rear-view mirror should have been included in the memory
* It shouldn't cost BMW even $10 in COGS to have the four floor mats provided. Make money elsewhere, not on floor mats. The last thing I liked doing was stepping onto the carpet of the brand new car without any mats in place.
* Radio reception is sad.
* While the tape might get obsolete in a few years time, I still miss not having it in the car. The CD quality is so-so. IMHO, BMW should have had something in between the cheap audio set that they provide and the premium HK sound system.
The car has well and truly met our expectations and what really made it special is the fantastic buying experience we had interacting with John Shafer and Bruce Aiches at Cutter Motors. In a way this was Jon's shortest deal since I called him on Friday after 5:00 and ordered the car and went down to SB and picked up the car the next day. And in another way, it was also his longest deal since we had initially placed an order with him sometime in May but had had to back out due to unforseen reasons. The last 7 months on the board and my detailed interaction with Jon over these months were instrumental in making this happen. If you are in the bay area and would like to have a a memorable experience in getting your dream car, head towards Santa Barbara. You won't be disappointed with either the experience or the drive back home.