The Ultimate snooze machine
December 20, 2017
I bought a new 2017 340i xDrive with a manual. I was given a large discount, and the test drive was pleasant, so I decided to buy it.
Now, after about a year of driving it, I find it to be more of a competent appliance for commuting. It is not the "Ultimate Driving Machine" it used to be.
Pros: The fuel efficiency is amazing, considering the power (very quick vehicle!). I get about 24 mpg in winter, 25 mpg in the summer, mostly highway, "spirited" driving style. It has very comfortable seats, holds you in place but not aggressively bolstered like real sports cars, and firm but well-shaped for comfortable long drives. The Heads-up display is clear and large; it provides all the helpful information you need so you rarely have to take your eyes off the road. TPMS "learns" easily and quickly, so swapping out summer and winter wheels is an easy task. The wheel is mounted on a sort of centering ring, which makes changing wheels even easier. The engine, transmission, and chassis work very well together to make handling stable and easy-to-control.
Cons: The biggest drawback is the lifeless steering. The previous generation (E9x) had almost telepathic steering. The current one is just limp (not overly light, as the Sport mode can make it pretty heavy) and has a large dead range. I think it is made to accomodate distracted drivers who are twitching left a right frequently. There is just too much play in the electric steering. I actually prefer the steering feel of our Sienna minivan. Again, the 340 is capable of powering out of a corner at ridiculous speeds and does not lean much, but it is a supremely boring process now. The car has also already developed some creaks. My old 2004 Mazda6 endured 96,000 miles of New England potholes and aggressive driving without any rattles or creaks. The styling loses a star because, while it looks handsome, the optional dark kidney grille plus the sport bumpers makes the 340 look like a sad blob fish.
I am using it as my winter car now, because the snow masks the lifeless steering nicely. The Macan is a far superior small "car" to transport the occasional 3 or 4 passengers.