2009 BMW 328i

I thought I was smart enough to be first in line to drive the 328i once it arrived here, but then Mother Nature dumped four inches of snow on my lap - and the car wouldn't launch, stop, or corner worth a darn. Curious, I stepped outside and looked at the rubber.

"Potenza," read the sidewalls.

"High-performance summer tires," said Bridgestone's Web site.

"You're screwed," I said to myself.

And, for the most part, I was - one hundred pounds of kitty litter over the rear axle did nothing to help traction, nor did BMW's traction control system - because, if the tires have no grip whatsoever, cutting the throttle back until they do hook up won't work because - well, you're simply waiting for the impossible to happen.

I could go on, but I'd simply be kvetching about the poor (no, awful) choice in rolling stock - so I won't. I will note that I wasn't all that impressed with BMW's stability program. I understand driving enthusiasts like a system that doesn't take reign of the controls in a HAL 9000 manner, but BMW offers the "dynamic traction control" setting for that kind of driving. In the basic "on" setting, the 328i still slid quite a bit before the computers played with the brakes to straighten the car.

When the roads were plowed and their surfaces dried, it was clear that the 328i is the driver's car it's made out to be - well balanced, engaging, etc. Its ergonomics are great, though I miss the angled IP of the last-generation 3-series, and my passengers often wondered why my Frozen Coke sat between their left knee and the dashboard in the cup holder that pops out of the dash. I didn't have a good answer for that, though I'll note that our Four Seasons 135i coupe has room for cupholders in the center console...

As for the power? I've never driven a 330i, but the 328i does lack the oomph of the 335i. That said, the 128i is fun because it forces you to make good use of the gearbox, and it's the same case here (thanks to the weather, I was mostly rowing it from reverse to second and back again...), though the 3's added heft does dog the I-6 a bit more.

Evan McCausland, Web Producer

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