Test Drive ANNLimited – 2004 BMW 330ci Review

bmw 330ci
I went back to the same dealer where I drove the M3 and talked to my no-cares salesman Tom. He gave me the keys and let me take the 330Ci out all by myself! The car was really clean and in excellent shape. It didn’t feel 9 years old. When I got in my head hit the roof, which confused me. But then I remembered fancy cars have power seats with lots of adjustments and I got the seat set nice and comfy.
Coincidentally, I took the 330Ci out on some of the same roads where I test drove my Charger for fun nostalgia. I tried to go on as twisty of a road as you can get out here (http://goo.gl/maps/KF7bq) and the freeway.

bmw 330ci
The 330Ci is like the M3 after it went to obedience school. Same animal, just less aggressive. The engine noise is quieter, the suspension just a little bit smoother, the acceleration just not quite as fast. But I could still hurl it into corners and it stayed totally in control. I took a 10 mph curve at 40 and it was totally cool with it. Now I see why I couldn’t drive as fast down twisty canyon roads in my rental Volkswagen CC as a friend could in his 330Ci. It wasn’t all superior driving skills! 😉
Acceleration is totally decent, although not as fast as the M3, and it doesn’t feel as fast as the OMG I’M GONNA DIE FR-S. It felt as fast as the Charger but without the feeling of certain destruction if you accidentally turn the wheel even a little bit. It’s still tons of fun! The automatic transmission was smooth and it downshifted quickly when I expected it to.
I really, really want to try a M3 coupe with a stick. I loved driving the 330Ci – it feels accurate and composed but not too smooth and “luxury”. But I think I like the growling aggressive attitude of the M3 more. The only e46 M3 manual coupe I can find right now is with a private seller in North Dakota. But Salesman Tom will call me that very second if they get one in. Meanwhile, this pretty blue 330 tugs at my heart strings…
Up Next: 2011 Mustang GT, 2012 Nissan 370Z Coupe, and 2013 Hyundai Genesis 2.0T R-Spec
Ann Morey isn’t an automotive journalist, but she’s probably doing a better job of it than most of us. She’s a mid career marketing manager who only recently learned how to drive a manual transmission. She’s got a classic Charger in the garage and a boring Accord in need of replacement, so she’s out to test drive every mid-20-thousands dollar sports car out there. Her test drives run Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.
You can see the rest of the series here: Test Drive ANNLimited

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54 responses to “Test Drive ANNLimited – 2004 BMW 330ci Review”

  1. C³-Cool Cadillac Cat Avatar
    C³-Cool Cadillac Cat

    Josh is a commenter I've not seen here, previously, ergo he brings nothing to the table as a critic.
    Seriously. Your comment is turrible.
    Also, just a reminder, you forgot FIRST

  2. Scandinavian Flick ★ Avatar
    Scandinavian Flick ★

    <img src="http://i.imgur.com/8z5WvDR.gif"&gt;
    Okay, seriously, on the absolute level: Just shut the fuck up. Nobody knows who you are, or cares, and you add nothing to the conversation. I don't know where you trolls are coming from, but nobody cares what you think. Leave.
    Can someone with the power to do so please delete these kinds of comments? I don't want this place turning into Jalopnik 2.0.

    1. OA5599 Avatar

      2.0 was a decent version of [redacted], Things went to hell at 5.0.
      <img src="http://img.gawkerassets.com/img/18ncth2yqnsm0jpg/k-bigpic.jpg&quot; width=500>

      1. Scandinavian Flick ★ Avatar
        Scandinavian Flick ★

        I think they stopped running this feature when they realized in order to stay fair and balanced, they would have to take content from their own comment section.

      2. C³-Cool Cadillac Cat Avatar
        C³-Cool Cadillac Cat

        Hold on.
        They're on version five?!

        1. OA5599 Avatar

          Five was the crappy redesign in February 2011. That's when I stopped being a regular there. I don't remember when they made it so that you had to log in through twitface, but that was the final nail in the coffin for me. I think more people had heart-clicked me than Matt by that point, though I never did catch up to the saucy minx.
          Anyway, they are probably up to version 7 or 8 right now. I've lost count and no longer pay enough attention to the site to notice any more differences.

          1. C³-Cool Cadillac Cat Avatar
            C³-Cool Cadillac Cat

            I think I was out on '4'.
            There was a point past which I just couldn't tolerate Nibbles.
            Nicer name than I have for it.
            I use 'facebonk' and, well, something you hear in English shows long before here in 'Murrica.
            Hooniverse is still classy, so I'll leave it at that.

  3. The son of Gimmi Avatar
    The son of Gimmi

    I had a 2000 330ci 'vert manual, black on black. My father had bought it because he wanted a more humble daily driver, but he quickly get bored haha !
    He was always calling it "tiken hink" and one morning, after 3 weeks of ownership, he just lend me keys and said "son, it's yours". haha, that's how he is.
    Thanks for the verily excellent review, it brings back memories !

  4. C³-Cool Cadillac Cat Avatar
    C³-Cool Cadillac Cat

    An M3 post-finishing school. Interdasting. Still nowhere large enough a two-door for my tastes, but yeah, I can see it being appealing.
    Did this one have the über-rare anti-asshole driver option.
    BTW, "Josh", you're not eligible for this one.

  5. VeeArrrSix Avatar

    You must post these moronic scribes in between yelling "MA! MEATLOAF!" from the basement right? Please go back to TTAC or Autoblog posthaste.
    <img src="http://i1.kym-cdn.com/photos/images/original/000/588/817/ce1.gif&quot; alt="This will display an animated GIF" />

  6. nikolateslawasahero Avatar

    In turn, you bring nothing to the table as a commenter. While, for once, you were able to defeat your fellow commenters by using a generally acceptable level of spelling and grammar in between furious masturbation sessions, your contribution has all the validity and usefulness of a chihuahua on a boar hunt.

  7. The son of Gimmi Avatar
    The son of Gimmi

    Please be polite with ladies

  8. Tim Odell Avatar
    Tim Odell

    Dear Trolls,
    We're open to well-founded criticism here, but not swooping in and flinging crap around like a drunken chimpanzee.
    The purpose of this site is to highlight real people doing cool stuff with cars. Ann is a real person and she's out test driving tons of sports cars. She's not an expert and she's not pretending to be. The point was to highlight one person's thorough efforts to buy a sports car based on what she personally likes, wants, can find and afford, rather than what The Internet tells her to.
    If you can't wrap your head around that, your options are to remain silent or go away. Your crap will not be tolerated.
    Tim Odell
    Editor in Chief

    1. The son of Gimmi Avatar
      The son of Gimmi

      I applaud your bravery, good sir.

    2. Scandinavian Flick ★ Avatar
      Scandinavian Flick ★

      <img src="http://i.imgur.com/P8Wr1lA.gif&quot; width="150">

    3. OA5599 Avatar

      Why not, rather than delete the comments entirely, edit them heavily to make them say something positive and contrary to the intended troll. In this case, it would be something like, "Ann, great review. I wish I could write like you. I can't wait until your next one!"
      It seems to work elsewhere.

      1. Tim Odell Avatar
        Tim Odell

        Thought about it.
        I could give you some long answer about the ethics of changing someone else's purported words. At its worst it's kinda like fraud.
        But the real answer is it takes too much work.
        I do take the time to check their IP address and email to see if they're commenting under multiple names.

  9. dukeisduke Avatar

    As it's in Minnesota, is rust a concern on a nine-year-old BMW?

    1. C³-Cool Cadillac Cat Avatar
      C³-Cool Cadillac Cat

      Whoa, wait.
      Hold. The. Phone!
      A pertinent comment?!
      WTF is THAT?!

    2. theannm Avatar

      Rust is a concern with everything around here. I'm a little torn on this issue, because a car that wasn't driven in the winter won't be rusty, but I'd feel less bad driving the car in the winter if I wasn't the first person to do it.

    3. Maymar Avatar

      Not that I see a ton of E46s for work (I photograph used cars), but the ones I see tend to be pretty solid. You're never entirely sure what radio station you're listening to, but as far as ten-year old cars go, they're not bad for rust (and we're pretty familiar with rust).
      W203 Benzes, on the other hand…

  10. Tim Odell Avatar
    Tim Odell

    Noted haters of Chris Bangle will be sad to know this is one of his designs as well.

    1. The son of Gimmi Avatar
      The son of Gimmi

      I had the chance to meet Mr. Bangle while my dad was working at BMW Sauber.
      He explained to me his vision and that has been a very enlightening experience.
      I believe he has been significant in reshaping modern cars, he is certainly the most talked about designer !
      His designs have a great deal of presence, and they're well proportioned. He's been highly influential.

  11. ThirdPedalGirl Avatar

    I think I need one of these as a daily driver, *plus* an M3 for fun.
    Own ALL the BMWs, yay!

    1. theannm Avatar

      This sounds like an excellent plan, actually.

      1. Number_Six Avatar

        Ann, while you're on this journey, would you be so kind as to drive an RX-8 and then compare it to the 3-series? I know one of these days I'll get tired of weedwhacker propulsion, no matter how completely utterly brilliant the rest of the car is but I am really not sure what will take its place.
        /cue Dearthair yelling at me to buy a f*cking V8

      2. longrooffan Avatar

        Late to the party so, luckily, our Overlords had already deleted what must have been a rude and inconsiderate comment.
        I, too, have been the recipient of a few of these and, at first, they got me down, almost to the point of backing away. Upon reflection and with some great support from our fellow Hoons, this olelongrooffan decided to ignore the trolls and continue on in a fashion many here seem to find acceptable, and dare I say it, enjoyable.
        Please do the same Ann. Your reviews are a refreshing break from the usual peppy, upbeat comments about most car reviews.
        Good luck in your search and have fun while doing so. And please continue sharing your experiences.

        1. MVEilenstein Avatar

          Next time I do a car review: "THIS CAR IS TEH SUCK. QUESTIONS?"

        2. MVEilenstein Avatar

          Been away all weekend, so I missed the fun, too. Glad the bosses put an end to that fool.

        3. racer139 Avatar

          Your museings are exellent and well worth the read. When you get some time be sure and take a nother road trip and document it here but in your CLASSIC style as that last trip was an exellent read that made me wanna hit the road.

    2. Scandinavian Flick ★ Avatar
      Scandinavian Flick ★

      Not to mention owning more than one increases the odds that one will be running!

      1. Tim Odell Avatar
        Tim Odell

        I'm driving or riding in the wife's 6MT M5* this week because that theory isn't playing out for me. Wagoneer needs a starter and Falcon's getting some roof rust adressed.
        *Mazda5 minivan, that is.

        1. Jim Brennan Avatar
          Jim Brennan

          You know Tim, when I read "6MT M5" I thought for a brief moment you went over to the dark side… as in the Bavarian Dark Side… Whew, glad you didn't.

        2. 0ToTuttiFrutti Avatar

          So I says to myself, "Pardon my chauvinism, self, but if his wife drives a manual M5, then what does he drive??" Then I read the fine print. Heeee.

        1. OA5599 Avatar

          In your case, it increases the odds that one will NOT be running, thus making it suitable as a parts car.

          1. Van_Sarockin Avatar

            Hey, hey there, those are original condition cinder blocks!

          2. mdharrell Avatar

            I had them installed by HCOTY winner Sparky Pete himself.

          3. OA5599 Avatar

            I thought HCOTY went to the car, not the owner. Otherwise the award would be HOTY. Or is Sparky a car, too?

          4. mdharrell Avatar

            It can be difficult to say precisely where the ZomBee leaves off and Pete begins. Or indeed whether.
            "Our congratulations to our very own Sparky, and the Killer ZomBee…."

      2. ThirdPedalGirl Avatar

        Well, see, then I really need three, because I'd love an E9 as well.

    3. The son of Gimmi Avatar
      The son of Gimmi

      We have a few M3 at my uncle's place in Sweden.
      Some belongs to my dad, I should ask him to give me one lol

  12. Amit Avatar

    To this day I cannot find a car that I would replace my 2001 330i with. The e46 is one of the last, best platforms made by BMW. Real tires, a real dipstick, a fantastic inline 6 cylinder engine and holy crap you could still get a stick shift.
    If you find a good one hang on to it. They don't make em like this anymore.

  13. robertog Avatar

    I am liking these reviews alot, how many more will you do?
    Quip about how fancy cars are not your thing, but you'll keep reviewing them!
    Engine noise is there, suspension is there, it accelerates. You accurately turned at 40 MPH. Remind the reader you're a lady, by referencing a guy you know (winky).
    The meat of the review: the 330ci isn't as fast or aggressive as the M3.
    Mention how manual transmissions are far superior (obviously), BUT
    you can't buy this because….there are more cars to joyride. We await the next one!

  14. Meatloaf Avatar

    I really like the serie so far.
    Would it be possible to review a true exotic like the Subaru SVX ?
    Do it during winter when the awd system can really make the car shine.
    Anything besides the SVX is not really interesting IMO.
    For me, the SVX is the best car ever made, you really MUST road test it.
    Love it !

  15. Gee35XeeS Avatar

    I'd think it be suicide to get anything without awd or fwd for daily use. I live in Golden Valley, MN next to Minneapolis. The snow here can be brutal. This past winter sucked. But I've heard of a guy around here that runs snows on his 2wd 911 for daily use, but a lot weight on the rears. Get an Infiniti G with awd. It's rwd and kicks in the front wheels when needed.

    1. GTXcellent Avatar

      Before we moved to the top of the state, my wife and I lived in Buffalo and drove to Bloomington and Plymouth for work. For 2 years her daily driver was a Miata (with a 6MT naturally!). A little bit hairy on some of the worst days, but the weather never stopped her. Between the expeditious MNDot, heavy use of salt and/or chloride, and all of the traffic, I don't think you need to limit yourself to awd or even fwd in the cities metro area.

    2. Maymar Avatar

      A couple years back, I worked as an occasional courier, driving a series of fleet Chevy Expresses. Very much RWD, fairly torquey (although admittedly slightly heavier than a black hole, and loaded down with a ton of weight over the rear axle). Even starting around the same time as the snow plows, I got around the Toronto area fine. I also did a winter several years earlier in a Chevette on bald all-seasons (not my choice, another fleet car).
      Not to say that FWD or AWD wouldn't be mostly superior in heavy snow, but with the right set of tires, and a couple sand bags or something, RWD is doable if you're dead-set on it. Plus, low-speed, quasi-legal (I'm sorry officer, I never realized it could do that!) FTW!

  16. marcus Avatar

    At the risk of a flame war, I respectfully submit that I do not like this series. I understand that my dissenting opinion may not be welcome, but there it is. I also understand, of course, that I may (will) choose to simply pass over the reviews, if I don't like them.

    1. Tim Odell Avatar
      Tim Odell

      This is an example of how to dissent with dignity, and you're entitled to your opinion.
      Out of curiosity, why not?
      (feel free to not share, if you'd rather not)

      1. ˏ♂ˊ mzs zsm msz esq Avatar
        ˏ♂ˊ mzs zsm msz esq

        I thought marcus meant the 3 series, but now I see again I am an idiot.

    2. The son of Gimmi Avatar
      The son of Gimmi

      I really like it here because everyone is agreeing on everything.
      It's both peaceful and positive.
      No one forces you to come here and read our material (free of charge BTW) only to tell us how much you dislike it.
      If you are so good, go out there in the wild road testing used cars, write some reviews and post them online.
      I'll be the first one to tell you how bad it is, and then you'll know how much words can hurt.

    3. racer139 Avatar

      Also if you dont like the series then you should see it fit not too comment on the installments.

      1. Nimmo Avatar

        That doesn't make any sense.
        That said, I don't think the original commentator is suggesting that this is Gawker-quality content or anything as nasty as that.