2006 BMW 325-i (615)


This week we’re looking at the new for 2006 BMW 325-i and incidentally it was reviewed while traveling through much of the state of Oregon from top to bottom and side to side. At the top is the Columbia River Gorge and if you haven’t seen it and will, you are in for a treat. Beautiful country.

I don’t know if this BMW was necessarily in style with its Barrique Red Metallic paint job, but I always enjoy driving BMW cars even if it is the compact 3 – series. Surely the handling prowess of this cat makes up for its small size. And don’t get me wrong, it isn’t all “That” small and for a compact it has a nice size trunk and seating is quite comfy.

Public Service: Reduce Road Rage – if you’re not passing traffic in the slower lane to your right, that’s the lane you should be driving in.

Handling & Performance:

German cars have for the past half century been known for their mechanical genius. The Japanese have risen to the occasion to rival the world and equalize the playing field of automotive excellence. Today it is apparent the big three have taken on a whole new meaning. In my view it is no longer GM, Ford and Chrysler but the global community makes it America , Germany and Japan .

Think about that for a moment and then see if you see the same interesting result of WWII as relates to the auto industry. I suspect the Space Race will have made a similar impact on the miniaturizing of all electronics that has given birth to so many wonderful gadgets like this computer I’m writing with. Our space age navigation systems that are simply wonderful no matter in which continent you happen to be traveling. Now as you probably know there are portable Nav systems and I’ll be reviewing those shortly as they apply to all autos you drive. Of course it is safe to say they, like all electronics, will get so cheaper over time and I’ll bet you will have them in every vehicle you own so you won’t need a portable version. But until then portable is good and they only cost about $600.


I don’t have the answer to how they could design the low cowling better but I have a problem with low profile cars like this BMW that hit parking cement stops. The low profile makes handling better but makes for a parking nightmare.

Fit and Finish:

Quite good but the use of plastic nearly everywhere makes you appreciate real material like wood whenever you find it. All plastic simply loses the warmth of real or natural materials.


The base price is good at $30,900 but that is pretty bare bones in my opinion. To get it equipped the way I like it with leather, sports seats that hug you all around and several power options you’re looking at nearly $40,000. Hello, that’s a lot for a 3-Series.

Conveniences and comfort:

I’m wondering why the ignition system is designed the way it is. You put the blunt key fob into the dash and then push a start button and push it again to turn the ignition off. Then you remove the key fob.

Sirius satellite radio is good but I’m partial to XM Satellite, perhaps because it’s the first. But then I like Pepsi even though I grew up with Coke.

Cup holders on the dash are really bad. Don’t these engineer guys ever drive their own cars and spill coffee, or other drinks all over themselves and the car like I did? Perhaps they should consider having the press drive these cars before they go into production.

The seat cushions on the side have pillows that expand to hold you snug in the seat. The first time I experienced those was in a Corvette I tested in Colorado . It was apparent they are “Race Age” devices that hug you in the curves to make you feel you’re a part of the car. Wonderful and you’ll love ‘em.

Cruise control is one of my favorite conveniences because I do a lot of driving on the highway. But I have to say Mercedes and BMW place the control levers in lousy places. They are so close together that you must always think about which lever you are using. Not good. I believe GM has engineered this feature the best of any of the competition. I did however like the unique improvement of allowing you to click one notch for a one mile per hour increase or decrease or two notches to jump four miles per hour up or down.

Consumer Recommendation:

If a compact car is your thing at this point in your life and the budget will afford mid $30,000 prices this is a nice option to consider. But the competition is real stiff and capable. It has to be a tough decision for anyone. Hell, flip a coin out of the list below.

Recognized Competition:

BMW 3-Series $30-45,000, Volvo S40 $24-29,000, Mercedes Benz C-Class $29-54,000, Audi A4 $28-45,000, Saab 9-3 $26-42,000, Volkswagen Passat $23-32,000, Subaru Legacy $22-34,000, Jaguar X-Type $32,330, Lexus IS $30-35,000, Infiniti G35 $31-34,000, Acura TSX $28-30,000, Cadillac CTS $29-51,000, Lexus ES 350 $33,170.

Good News:

Well thought out cruise control settings, nice handling and wonderful manual transmission shifting characteristics and decent fuel economy. I like the His and Her climate temp controls because she’s always menopause hot and I’m on the cool side (sound familiar?).

Bad News:

Poorly placed cup holders, questionable ignition design (key would be better), poor cruise control location.

Standard Equipment:

3.0 liter 225 horsepower inline 6-cylinder engine, 6-speed manual transmission, twin tube gas pressure shocks, engine speed sensitive power assist steering, run flat tires with flat tire warning, dynamic stability control and dynamic traction control, dual airbags with front seat side airbags, front and rear seat head protection system, haloge4n lights and fog lights, rain sensing windshield wipers and auto headlight control, ground lighting in door handles, keyless remote entry, power and heated mirrors, tilt and telescopic leather wrapped steering wheel, climate control with activated charcoal micro filter ventilation and left / right temp controls, 6-way adjustable front seats, anti theft stereo, CD and MP3 player audio system, computer and 2-way power glass moonroof.

Gas Stats:

20 City and 30 Highway MPG


MSRP $30,900.


Your comments are welcomed. My e-mail is joe@atthewheel.com

Copyright © 2006 – An Automotive Love Affair

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