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My First 30 Days Experience with a BMW

So, it’s now been a month since I bought my latest car. It’s a 2010 BMW 328i. I feel fortunate to find such a great used car that fit in my pre-decided budget. I was looking at a lot of cars and was getting serious about buying a used Nissan Maxima SV.

The BMW Choice
My BMW is the first one I ever drove. I had a couple of friends suggest that I should at least check into BMW before my final decision. I was honestly surprised that I could get a late model 3-series in my budget. I found a compatible BMW at the Infiniti dealer (my last car was Infiniti so I’m familiar with the dealer already). I went and made a test drive with my wife along for the ride. It only took a short drive for me to like it, a lot. The dealer had a Maxima SV fully-loaded also in their inventory, so I was able to compare side-by-side and drive-after-drive.

The Maxima offered a slightly bigger car, bigger engine, a panoramic sunroof, iPod integration, rear camera and navigation with a large display. The BMW had none of those amenities, but the driving experience won me over. I loved how it feels very connected to the road, with a perfect balance of dampening between true sports car feel and luxury car feel. The steering is much tighter and more responsive than my previous cars. The bucket driver’s seat is supportive and supremely comfortable with great alignment to the pedals and the wheel. Anyway, I loved the drive and bought the car the following day after sleeping on it (or trying to).

Expectations Met
After a month of ownership, my experience with the car has been exactly on point with my expectations. I enjoy driving it whether on my daily commute or the occasional highway stint. In fact, my enjoyment has only increased as I continue to adjust to it. There is a part of me that wishes I had the extra amenities the Nissan would have included, but the pleasure of driving more than makes up for it. Besides, I’ve never had those features so I don’t really miss them. And it does have some great amenities like keyless entry and start, heated seats, smart climate controls, sunroof, and more.

A Mind of Its Own?
I have wondered if the BMW is smart and helpful, or just a smart Alec. Like a lot of cars with keyfobs, the BMW sets seats and even mirrors for the driver. This has been a bit of a confusion for me, so I need to read up since the controls on the side of the seat are hard to study while seated. Still, I have found the mirrors still adjusting as I pull away and that can be disconcerting. Plus, it seems that often, I set them and they still revert to a preset immediately after. Another example came up today since it was a bit rainy at moments this morning. I set the wipers on the intermittent mode as I headed toward the school for drop-off. My daughter and I both noticed that the timing was very uneven between wipes. I’ve got to figure out if there is a sensor that is determining the delay or perhaps something is wrong with the wiper relay. Whatever the case, it was ranging from 3-7 seconds delay, and seemed rather random at that. I think my car is a bit overconfident and needs to get to know me a bit better before it starts making decisions for me.

What Were They Thinking?
There is one design decision that I really don’t get. The only button in the car to lock or unlock doors is right in the middle of the center console. There is not one near the door. If I approach the car while I have passengers, the front door will open for me, but the back doors remain locked. I have to get into the car before I can reach the unlock button on the console. A button on the door would be easier to access and much more logical. Maybe there is an explanation and they thought about something less obvious to me, but it feels like a miss in the experience design. I’ll probably get into the habit of pressing the unlock button on the keyfob when I have passengers, but it definitely detracts from the simplicity and value of the keyless entry solution.

How is the BMW Experience?
Overall, I’m quite satisfied with my choice of car to drive for the coming years. It looks great, feels comfortable, has some nice features, and most importantly is very fun to drive. I guess some might take issue with their brand message: “The Ultimate Driving Machine”. I would have to say that at least they picked the category that matters to me. It is at least my ultimately matched driving machine for now. A lot of products offer bells, whistles, and other enticements, but many times, the greatest satisfaction and customer experience comes from doing the one right and important thing really well. Sure, a lot of problems could ruin that experience, but as long as everything else is OK, I’ll gladly go along with it to get such a superior driving experience.

Have a great car experience? Tell me about it in the comments.

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