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P_Roloff

E9x Sport Suspension

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So I went and test drove a 2011 328xi wagon today, and while I enjoyed the overall interior/exterior look and seat comfort (sport seats in saddle brown) I was left feeling a bit cold in terms of the ride. I wasn’t really impressed with the body control even compared to the e34, and I was wondering if anyone here had any experience driving both standard and sport suspension e90’s and if they had any thoughts on how much of a difference it made. 

I’m also wondering how much worn suspension components may have had to do with it, the car had 100k miles and I believe everything was original. Any comments on shock/bushing life on these cars?

Side note: I also took a drive in a 2011 S5 at a nearby dealer while I was in the area, and holy smokes. I don’t know what I was expecting, but that car exceeded pretty much every expectation I had with the exception of the light steering and a few low-quality buttons. The brakes stood out to me most of all, they’re definitely filling launchers. It had a very nice interior also, great power, nice sound, and in my eyes it looked drop dead gorgeous. Scares me though as far as running costs. 

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The suspension starts to take a nose dive around 75k so I'd say at 100k it's definitely in need of a refresh.  The sport suspension is better than the standard but in my opinion it was never night and day different for me.  Noticeable but it doesn't make it an M car.  Driving an S5 right after doesn't do the e91 any favors since these are two different animals.  A 335i m sport or e46 m3 are better comparisons.  The V8 in the S5 is nice and sounds great once it's opened up.  They don't have the same issues as the earlier 4.2 in the b6/b7.  By the B8 chassis the S cars basically became a spicier version of a normal car while the RS cars were direct M competition so consumables aren't that bad as far as price goes.  With that said the S car is probably still going to cost more than an e91.  Also, you're still dealing with a German V8 so you still need to have some healthy fear of financial disaster at any moment. 

The e91 is a great daily utilitarian vehicle but the n52 isn't going to add any thrill to your daily commute while the V8 in the S car will definitely add some excitement.  You could make the e91 a great handling great looking car but it'd never compare to the S5 overall.

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If you get a BMW it needs to be a somewhat special one otherwise the upkeep isn’t worthwhile. The definition of “special” varies, but I guess in this context, don't settle for an automatic if you really want a manual. DO consider an X3 if utility matters since the long roof tax is nonexistent. 
 

There is no such thing as “one size fits all” whatever you get is going to suck in at least some aspect, otherwise we would all own the same perfect car. 
 

E90 335i m-sport chassis and handling feels awesome when your reference is basic A-B transportation like a Camry.

Your E90 experience should at least have you feeling like there has been some progress. Rear bushings can be squirmy even on low mileage E90s especially with them being up to 15 years old by now.

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19 hours ago, patsbimmer1 said:

The suspension starts to take a nose dive around 75k so I'd say at 100k it's definitely in need of a refresh.  The sport suspension is better than the standard but in my opinion it was never night and day different for me.  Noticeable but it doesn't make it an M car.  Driving an S5 right after doesn't do the e91 any favors since these are two different animals.  A 335i m sport or e46 m3 are better comparisons.  The V8 in the S5 is nice and sounds great once it's opened up.  They don't have the same issues as the earlier 4.2 in the b6/b7.  By the B8 chassis the S cars basically became a spicier version of a normal car while the RS cars were direct M competition so consumables aren't that bad as far as price goes.  With that said the S car is probably still going to cost more than an e91.  Also, you're still dealing with a German V8 so you still need to have some healthy fear of financial disaster at any moment. 

The e91 is a great daily utilitarian vehicle but the n52 isn't going to add any thrill to your daily commute while the V8 in the S car will definitely add some excitement.  You could make the e91 a great handling great looking car but it'd never compare to the S5 overall.

Good to know, I figured. I'll have to keep a lookout for a sport or m-sport RWD car (in better condition) to test next, since the AWD cars regardless of package never got the better suspension. Sounds like I should at least try a 335i sport/m-sport and see what I think? E46 M3 would be awesome, but not practical for a longer-term daily driver IMO.

I appreciate your input, if you have any suggestions for other cars to look at around the ~15k price bracket I'm all ears. I'd prefer a BMW I think, but if this experience has taught me anything it's that preconceived notions about other brands are often pretty misleading. I really wish the E90/92 M3's were a bit cheaper, but I have no real desire to subject myself to the horrors of a tired, beat up example to get one in my price range.

18 hours ago, B C said:

If you get a BMW it needs to be a somewhat special one otherwise the upkeep isn’t worthwhile. The definition of “special” varies, but I guess in this context, don't settle for an automatic if you really want a manual. DO consider an X3 if utility matters since the long roof tax is nonexistent. 
 

There is no such thing as “one size fits all” whatever you get is going to suck in at least some aspect, otherwise we would all own the same perfect car. 
 

E90 335i m-sport chassis and handling feels awesome when your reference is basic A-B transportation like a Camry.

Your E90 experience should at least have you feeling like there has been some progress. Rear bushings can be squirmy even on low mileage E90s especially with them being up to 15 years old by now.

Good point there. I would love a manual e91 and I think that a RWD 6spd e91 sport/m-sport would probably check all the boxes and be a really enjoyable daily, but I don't have the budget to do it. Prices on those have exploded to the point where they're almost not feasible for actually daily driving them. I would be really interested in trying a m-sport manual e90 in both n52 and n55 flavors, and maybe a n55 535i m-sport as well. 

A manual x3 sounds interesting, but the need for a SUV isn't there for me. I dislike the higher seating position, and they just don't handle the same way a car does. I'm also a single guy without pets, so hauling around a family or animals isn't a concern. Utility is always nice, but for right now a decent trunk and a roof rack can handle pretty much anything I'll need to shuttle around.

Like with Pat, if you (or anyone else here, for that matter) have any suggestions for cars to test I'd appreciate it. I'm just starting the vehicle search and will need something for the end of May, so I've got plenty of time to check stuff out and wait for hard to find stuff pop up. 

I'm realizing now that I probably should just have done this in the General Off-Topic sub-forum, oh well.

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540i/6 if you dont mind the gas mileage.

https://www.autotrader.com/cars-for-sale/vehicledetails.xhtml?listingId=572425011&zip=53146&referrer=%2Fcars-for-sale%2Fsearchresults.xhtml%3Fzip%3D53146%26city%3DNew%2BBerlin%26incremental%3Dall%26makeCodeList%3DBMW%26transmissionCodes%3DMAN%26sortBy%3Drelevance%26location%3D%5Bobject%2BObject%5D%26maxPrice%3D16000%26state%3DWI%26firstRecord%3D25%26marketExtension%3Dinclude%26relevanceConfig%3Ddefault%26searchRadius%3D500%26isNewSearch%3Dfalse&numRecords=25&maxPrice=16000&firstRecord=25&makeCodeList=BMW&searchRadius=500&makeCode1=BMW&modelCode1=540I&clickType=listing


I have no experience with the 228i/230i but I have always been interested in seeing what they are like. 


I am also intrigued by the 128i. Install a helical LSD and some suspension and have a ton of fun for cheap. Honestly im not sure why people aren’t hoarding them. It has the NA 6 cyl RWD manual formula. On paper its not too different than an E36 M3.

I even know a guy with one for sale 

@GunMetalGrey

 

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16 minutes ago, B C said:

540i/6 if you dont mind the gas mileage.


I have no experience with the 228i/230i but I have always been interested in seeing what they are like. 


I am also intrigued by the 128i. Install a helical LSD and some suspension and have a ton of fun for cheap. Honestly im not sure why people aren’t hoarding them. It has the NA 6 cyl RWD manual formula. On paper its not too different than an E36 M3.

I even know a guy with one for sale 

@GunMetalGrey

 

I thought his was an automatic? But I’m with you, a manual 128i with sport or m sport is on the list. They’re just hard to find from what I’ve seen. I’ve no more than a handful of m sports in the last 6 months or so of casual searching, but maybe it’s just bad luck.

N20’s scare me with the timing chain stuff, but a 30i car with whatever the new b series engine is seems to have cured that from my limited research. I’d probably just stick to a 128i though if going that route. 
 

540i/6 would be cool, but dealing with a 20+ y/o car and all their associated quirks is one of the things I’d like to get away from with this vehicle purchase. Otherwise I’d just get a cheap beater economy car and an old BMW and have a car for fun and a car for everything else. I’m probably not going to be able to do that for the next few years though, hence the upgrade to one vehicle that is a little more adept at being both fun and usable without needing “old” car attention. I love the e34, but it’s now 26 years old, and will need more wrenching time than I’d like to commit if wanted to daily it and keep it nice for the next 5 or so years. I can handle occasional downtime because my roommate will be working at the same place so we can carpool if I’m fixing something, but the continuous work is what I’m attempting to get away from. 

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Its got a bit higher mileage than you were looking for, but this 2012 rwd/m-sport is still available ;)https://www.facebook.com/marketplace/item/292893695235206/?ref=search&referral_code=undefined

 

My 2 cents on an e91: From what I've read while I was searching (I haven't driven an xdrive to confirm this), the xdrive cars handle noticeably worse than their RWD counterparts. You are welcome to take mine for a spin to compare while the other one is still fresh in your mind, it's rwd/sport/auto with 102k and basically stock (aside from the exhaust and a euro intake) for reference. It still has the original suspension and on soft snow tires so its probably not the best example ever, but gives you a decent idea. With decent summer tires, I think the rwd/sport combo handles really well and is also surprisingly comfortable for long drives. I've had zero regrets with it so far, typical BMW issues aside. The extra space and practicality of the wagon is worth the price premium and weight tradeoff in my opinion. 

 

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29 minutes ago, m42b32 said:

Its got a bit higher mileage than you were looking for, but this 2012 rwd/m-sport is still available ;)https://www.facebook.com/marketplace/item/292893695235206/?ref=search&referral_code=undefined

 

My 2 cents on an e91: From what I've read while I was searching (I haven't driven an xdrive to confirm this), the xdrive cars handle noticeably worse than their RWD counterparts. You are welcome to take mine for a spin to compare while the other one is still fresh in your mind, it's rwd/sport/auto with 102k and basically stock (aside from the exhaust and a euro intake) for reference. It still has the original suspension and on soft snow tires so its probably not the best example ever, but gives you a decent idea. With decent summer tires, I think the rwd/sport combo handles really well and is also surprisingly comfortable for long drives. I've had zero regrets with it so far, typical BMW issues aside. The extra space and practicality of the wagon is worth the price premium and weight tradeoff in my opinion. 

 

You just want us to have matching cars, don’t you! 😂 I definitely would go check that e91 out if it wasn’t all the way in Minneapolis. 
 

That would be great. My only two “real” gripes were the ride and the sound, so I would imagine your car solves both of them. I do remember enjoying the handling/ride quality the one time I rode in it on the way to road America, and the performance exhaust sounded pretty great too. 

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9 minutes ago, P_Roloff said:

You just want us to have matching cars, don’t you! 😂 I definitely would go check that e91 out if it wasn’t all the way in Minneapolis. 
 

That would be great. My only two “real” gripes were the ride and the sound, so I would imagine your car solves both of them. I do remember enjoying the handling/ride quality the one time I rode in it on the way to road America, and the performance exhaust sounded pretty great too. 

Duh! I'm a bit biased but space gray looks fantastic even when its super dirty, and an e91 msport is rare in any configuration. In my opinion, travelling for the right car (not necessarily that one) is worth it as it opens up lots more options, I went to New Mexico for mine for example. Though that's not as easy with the pandemic at the moment... 

 

just shoot me a text if/when you want to! Could help you decide if an e91 is ultimately what you want or not! 

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I’m definitely open to flying to get a car, but right now, so early in the search, it’d have to be the perfect car to do it. I really also want to test drive as much as I can to really decide what I want before hopping in a plane to go see a car. 
 

Thank you, I definitely will!

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Yeah I settled on automatic thinking it would be nice for traffic (which it is) but I don't end up in traffic often haha.
I am looking to sell it sometime in the near future, and the lack of rust on things out here is awesome. 

Sport 128i's that are manual seem to be quite tricky to come across! I do really enjoy the chassis though. 

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