Sports Wagon: Expensive, but it’s a BMW

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BMW calls it a Sports Wagon, but it is neither sporty nor very roomy for a wagon. It has all wheel drive, but rides too low to clear even modest speed bumps and hasn’t enough power to make this feature useful for vigorous driving. It has a six speed manual transmission, but the high clutch release and the lack of a telescoping steering wheel make it difficult to get comfortable. Well equipped it costs $40,000 (US) and that makes it seriously more expensive than faster four-wheel drive wagons from Subaru, Volvo and Audi. You have to rev the engine well beyond 3500 rpm to pry out the 215 horsepower and until that point in time acceleration is leisurely. The brakes are very good, but they want to stop you right now. The ride is sturdy when unloaded, but put the family onboard and it is more slovenly. The steering wheel is very thick and the car reacts instantly to input and yet, unless you are willing to shift the notchy manual transmission enough to keep the engine on boil, heated runs are best left to its more accommodating 330i counterpart. The gauges are difficult to read with sunglasses on and the stereo is only adequate, even with the expensive MP-3 option. Make sure you consider the Sirius satellite radio option because land based reception is underwhelming.

You get the idea. This is our least favorite BMW. We adore the 330i, love the family friendly 5 Series, and hope to someday be trusted with a 6 Series. Although we dismiss SUVs as unnecessary to humanity, we would recommend the BMW X3 for nearly the same price. Make no mistake about it; BMW produces some of the finest driving cars in existence. But, in this case, we think that you must spend a great deal of time thinking about whether or not you need an all wheel drive wagon.

Mom’s view:
I stalled this BMW more than I would like to admit and I have driven some mighty touchy racecars. The seats were tight, but comfortable, the gauges easy to master, and the rear seats simple to lower. The hatch was hefty, but not a problem. There is room for four adults and their luggage in the wagon. Overall, this BMW just does not light my fire. It has no passion under the pedals and the optional handling package makes the front-end way to low for winter driving. Give me my 6 Series convertible.

Dad’s view:
Good fuel mileage, even if it liked premium petrol the most. I got 25 mpg around town and more on the highway thanks to the overdrive 6th gear. The turning radius is quite large and the feel of the steering is indicative of a much heavier vehicle. I can’t help wondering if potential buyers are going to ignore the lack of acceleration when compared to the hotted up all wheel drive Subaru Legacy and Audi wagons. Even Jaguar’s X wagon is less expensive and just as fast. There can be no doubt that the power of the Bimmer legacy may be enough to drive sales for this model, but only for those who can ignore the presence of the similar priced and much more useful BMW X3.

Young working woman’s view:
There is something special about driving a BMW. It has a significant advantage over other vehicles in its road feel and smooth engine. The warranty that covers everything is also reassuring. However, I don’t like to beat cars and I don’t like to wait for them to accelerate. This wagon was just too slow unless you spent a significant part of your journey shifting. Now, if it had the automatic transmission I would have liked it much better. Furthermore, I would gladly give up the handling option, as it had no place on this wagon for me. Finally, I just didn’t see why the price was $40,000 even with the large sunroof and other options. In the long run people who need a wagon and like BMW are going to have little choice, but for me the sedan and coupes are more responsive and just as useful.

Young college going male’s view:
Technically speaking, this car is loaded. The suspension has been improved; the engine features a variable life valve train and valve timing. The xDrive system, panoramic roof, and available sport package are state of the art. You have a possible 61 cubic feet of cargo room, and can go over 300 miles before refueling. Okay, now for the synergy. All of these features yield a sporty station wagon that is much more fun to drive than the competition, albeit not as fast. It looks good, rides comfortable, and just wants someone who loves to drive to occupy its tidy interior. The 325 ix is not for toads. This is a vehicle for those who enjoy taking control when they are on the road and need the extra room of a wagon. If you were looking for a BMW I would expect that the price tag wouldn’t be off putting. Make mine black and I’ll buy a bag for my snow board so not to smug the leather. Check my tunes at www.simple-thoughts.net

Family conference:
BMW has updated this wagon with a host of goodies, but the all wheel drive option, low stance, and lack of acceleration make it an oxymoron when it is called a sports wagon. Consider the 330i sedan, coupe or BMW X3 SUV that are priced similarly. For a listing of all vehicle manufacture websites go to http://www.reacheverychild.com and click on business.

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