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09-03-2008 02:41 AM #1
BMW 2008 128ci coupe Review- European Delivery
So i picked up the car at the Welt in Munich and I was pretty blown away with their revolutionary, state of the art delivery center. The people taking care of the process were top notch and the waiting area/restaurant was great, very upscale in a chic way. The car rotates on a pedestal below you as you look smitten at your new baby. I Went through the prerequisite orientation and learned where all the buttons and features of the car. Afterwards I stocked up at the snack bar with water and food and hit the road. Pulled over at the gas station and fueled up with some 103 octane benzine gas (nice). Just what the doctor ordered. I headed out to Prague, CZ that day, (It's now a month later that i am writing about the 128ci) but i most say i felt really good about the car. It was quite very good visibility and the car was a good improvement over my current BMW. I thought things couldn't get better, but the engineers did a wonderful job. The 6 speed transmission was that much better. It's like stirring cream with a spoon, it is that smooth and the overall fit and finish of the interior panels and exterior bodywork is exemplary.
I went for a drivers car, 6 speed, Xenon and Sport package. That's it... no ipod interface, fluffy premium package or Nav; just the barebones. To make things easier i have outlined the basic likes of the car.
1. I am a firm believer of the xenons, they can be seen well in the day and when doing 130-150 mph on the autobahn, they come in handy when needing to flash your lights to let the number 1 lane your "on it". Unfortunately I was unaware that when i was driving from Austria on a Friday half of Europe was heading into Munich for the Jack Johnson concert. Again the Xenons were nice.
2. I hate run flat tires and i don't care what performance car it is on. Maybe it is my driving style, but i never really know when the car is going to loose traction. There is a certain disconnect between the pavement and the kinesthetics of driving. It's just never feels right. I can't really say what the physics is, suffice to say when normally i can wind the car up to 100 mph through 270 degree onramp onto the freeway, at 80 mph the tires (car) feel like i am headed off the onramp and into the shoulder. I will say that the tires and the ride felt smoother than my Kumho road/track tires on my 2004 325ci (lowered, short shift, sway bars, eibach coilovers). In fact at times i completely nodded off while driving the car was that smooth and the tires were a good combo provided you drive like you are on the 405 freeway headed to the (San Fernando) Valley.
3. I stayed out real late almost all the nights and while in Prague I was at some outside bar. I ended up talking to a local, who spoke decent English, blame it on MTV. Anyhow, he was beholden to the BMW. It was a dream car as he told me and we jumped in the car ended up at another bar and following a group of people at some "after hours party". The guy had some middle of the road red POS car, the one's with the lousy Sparco seats and the 5 point safety belts, but this one didn't even have that. Anyhow, he is trying to outrun me, my BMW 128ci was still way under the break in period but the pintness of the car just gave it such a neutral feel, that i was very easily able to toss it around into the turns. Perhaps I would say it understeered, but without putting into a perpetual 360, I am hard pressed to say. I did like the ample feel of the American suspension, over the rough cobbles that Prague had to dish out through the old city. in my 2004 325ci it would have felt like the Baja 500.
4. The trip from Prague, CZ to Bratislava, Slovakia was a short jaunt, it was daytime and i just needed to keep the rpms under 4,000 until the engine was brocken in. BMW says between 1000-2000 KM, but as a general rule i give the powerplant 1,200 miles before i get on the gas and open her up. it was very tempting to want to go faster but I kept the speed down.
5. Here's the kicker - while driving from Budapest, Hungary into Ljubljana, Slovenia at night the weather turned into a torrential downpour. Call it hard IFR, but the raindrops were large, it came down in heavy sheets, with a strong crosswind. With the xenons i managed to keep on the roadway and I felt comfortable driving up to 100 mph in between the heavy rains. The run flat tires were really amazing in wet conditions, and complemented the car with grace. I was able to drive the car comfortably and safely in a torrential downpour, and at times it was a white knuckle experience.
6. At nearly $10 a gallon the gas was pricey and for the first 500 to almost 1,000 miles the engine was breaking in so it ended up costing about $1 a mile for gas. This wasn't a scientific test by any means, but it was abysmal. Once the engine broke in a bit the OBC showed 35mpg doing about 75mph in 6 gear which kept things around 3,900 rpms, if i remember correctly. I was astounded by the fantastic gas mileage. I am sure the high octance gas had something to do with it?
7. By the time I had gotten to Portorose, Slovenia and finished riding my bicycle from Portorose to Pula, Croatia and back, I spent the following night in Trieste, Italy. The following day I headed to Lago De Garda, Italy. Somewhere, along the freeway , i looked down and smiled. I was at 1,200 miles on the odometer. I gently started pushing the rpms above the 4k rpm (which is about 120mph) and was racing a Masserati, on the autopista, LA (los angeles) style. Basically, driving too fast... Actually between the run flat tires and the small 230hp engine it wasn't much of a match for a breathen Italian racer. It was a fun spirited drive weaving in an out of traffic and the lead Masserati even let me catch up to him a few times. Eventually I passed him, while he was nonchalantly talking on the cell phone - game over.
8. People talk about the 128ci being underpowered. Not so... Once that engine broke in I was truly amazed. The power curve on the 230hp engine is so surreal that as you apply power it just gets better. I believe the engine redlined at around 7k rpm, but as you gave it gas it just kept dishing out the horses. Unlike the 2004 coupe (184 hp), I never had to redline the car while passing. And the tone coming out of the two pipes is great. I never had a Remus catback exhaust installed on my 325ci coupe, but I must say i really liked the intonations the car made when getting on the gas and driving the car spirited, the way it was meant to be driven.
9. I came to appreciate the engine and the car's dynamics after my ride through the hills and along Lago de Garda, Italy on my Felt single speed bicycle. I suppose i had a better connection to the road afterwards and the driving felt zen-like. It was actually my last day in Europe and i was a bit hurried, behind rows of cars winding along the lake, looking back in the rearview I could see a Ducati and i let him pass. He then went pass two more cars and I got on the gas on second gear the 128ci had no problems keeping head to toe with the Ducati. In fact when he swerved back into the lane I needed to brake to keep from hitting him [Oops!] end. There just seemed to be that much kinetic energy in the car. Each and every time he passed I was right there. He was very surprised. Between listening to the exhaust; BMWs have always had a great engine sound emanating into the cockpit and the fantastic brakes, which made peeling off some of the excess speed academic. I suppose trail-braking in a track environment the brakes would not disappoint. The brakes were definitely, nicely tuned for the car.
10. So in conclusion the car is solid, the Engineers at BMW took away some of the non-essentials; the small rear windows that open out, a spare tire gone and run flat tires in leau of better trackworthy performance tires and that's all i can think of. They added a larger engine, better brakes, standard moonroof and fold down seats, a generous rear trunk easy enough to put a bicycle in with the front tire off, a stiffer frame without loosing any of the performance or subtlety of the ride. The car still has the BMW DNA... This was my third time doing Euro Delivery and i must say the dollar was weak, the Euro is strong, July is beautiful in Europe although a little crowded and i don't regret selling the car and doing Euro Delivery again in the winter and go skiing in Slovakia or Ischgl. I ended up driving about 1,500 miles in the course of 12 days at night, early mornings, mid-day, on the Autobahn in traffic and through country roads in the rain. If you have never done Euro Delivery do it one time. Also check out the BMW factory tour it is amazing. Private message me if you are interested in a super clean 2008 BMW 128ci...
09-04-2008 07:06 PM #2
BMW 2008 128ci Review- congrats, great report!
Congratulations, wonderful trip report. And I'm glad to hear such good things about the I28.
You wrote, "no ipod interface, fluffy premium package or Nav; just the barebones." And manual transmission? How dare you try to connect with your car, how un-suburban. You bought it the smart way: keep the price down, minimize the options that will one day break, minimize the car tag/tax.
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