Monday, 29 January 2007

800 km of E90 325i

N52B25 Engine Bay

Engine performance graph

Last weekend, had some spare time on hand and decided, what the heck let’s take a short trip up north. I have always wanted to see how far I could stretch the 325i’s legs. Woke up at 6am, got ready and headed out. The air was still cool so off we went for a quick bite and headed for the highway.

Before I start with my experience allow me to qualify an important point. I am against speeding and reckless driving. Safe driving is of utmost importance. What I am writing here is something I hardly ever do and was just trying out to see how the car behaved and handled at high speeds.

Took the car up to our highway speed limits (110 km/h) and it felt way too slow. I guess cars coming from the autobahn country have always been designed and engineered for high speed cruising.

After driving for about 10 minutes I decided to push it a little and here is my first observation. The cruising speed of the 325i seems to be about 140 km/h. It was very quiet and the in-line 6 engine was just humming away. The average fuel consumption hovered around 10km/liter on average. Not bad I must say, I guess the 6 speed auto did help out.

However the gearing ratio still seemed a little on the high side as compared to say the Honda Accord 3.0. At 110 km/h, the Accord will be doing 2000 rpm while the 325i was spinning at 2300 – 2400 rpms. Hmmm and the Accord was only a 5 speeder.

After about half an hour or so, there were 2 E60 that came speeding along the fast lane and I just decided, ok I’ll just follow them, it was a 523i and a 520i. I wasn’t tail gating them but the 523 just kept piling on more and more speed until we were about 180kmh/h. At that point the 520 decided to back off, so it was just the 523i and me heading towards 200 km/h. Yeah I know our speedometers are not accurate but here is my second key observation of the 325i’s characteristic. These autobahn stormers (I know, I know, a bit dramatic here calling the E60/E90 stormers but just couldn’t resist) I am very sure can cruise at these speed all day long if we had the road to do it. At speeds above 170 they were in their elements. The stiff ride on the run flat tires of the 325 just felt right. The body control and the brakes were just spot on. Braking at high speeds was very reassuring. These anchors just hauled the car each time you stepped on them. Dips, ruts and what ever imperfection were just soaked up. The car just felt like an iron fist in a velvet glove. All control and comfortable at the same time. In fact the car didn’t feel fast at speeds up to 200 km/h. In comparison, I was in a GS300 going at 160 and it just felt fast.

The 325i had just enough torque and power to play around from 120 – 180 km/h. It’s no force induction engine but you can feel the pull. Anyway the high speed run didn’t last that long and I guess we topped up at 230km/h before we had to back off, too many cars ahead. I then settled back driving at 110 km/h just to cool off a little. (Not the car but I needed it as my adrenalin was off the scale)

After the much needed recovery I then decided to test the kick down feature of the accelerator pedal. The kick down is engaged once you step past a certain point and you will feel a distinct click on the pedal. That’s when the fun starts. The drive by wire just instructs the engine and the gears to rev right up to redline before shifting up and repeating that until you have no more gears to up shift. For a naturally aspirated 2.5 liter engine, this drive train is a gem! It is so smooth, so willing to spin and the best part, it emits a very sporty note all the way to redline, very subtle but you definitely can hear it. 120 – 180 took about 3 to 4 seconds. (Based upon a best guess here, didn’t really clock it) It’s no Porsche turbo but the feeling is just hanging onto the steering while she just rips forward. (I just can’t wait to do this on the E92 335i)

After all this I was only about half way through my journey and I was like woah! Now I know why the 3 series has always been the benchmark for a sports sedan. You just feel it’s in total control and the best part is the car just felt comfortable. How did I judge that? My passenger was a sleep most of the way.

More to share, until the next time watch this space when I write about the DS (sports mode) and the attention to detail these Germans put into their craft.

Written by Dan  

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