http://www.bmwusa.com/vehicles/3/2006330iSedan I was on vacation and got nothing else better to do so I went and test drove the 2006 BMW 330i at Sandia BMW in Albuquerque. Yes, WOW!!! It's that good. The demo car was a plain jane 330i with auto slushbox, no Sport Package (ie 18" wheels, performance tires, tighter suspension), no iDrive idiot box either (thank God!). The keyless keyfob and the starter button kind of turn me off though. Cute on a Honda S2000 but silly in a BMW sedan. The inline 6 got a boost from 225-hp to 255-hp and torque from 217-lbft to 220-lbft. Those numbers are extremely deceptive because due to the new engine and new power ranges, the 2006 (E90 series) accelerates much harder than the previous generation (E46 series). Even at mile-high altitude this new engine puleds strongly and of course smooth as butter. The handling is BMW typical: tight, responsive but communicative. It corners much flatter than the previous 3-series. The brakes are phenomenal although a bit touchie. You touch it and the car comes to a shuddering stop. The ABS threshold is set high so that you can control your braking for quite a bit before ABS would kick in. Nice for the enthusiastic driver. The active steering is better tuned than the one in my Z4 (first generation). The transition from steering weight of lightness to hardness isn't quite as abrupt. The 6-speed slushbox works quite well on its own, upshifting and downshifting with authority and cripsness. When put in the manual mode, the shift is very immediate upon your tapping the shifter forward or backward (up or down respectively). It ain't no stick, but damn good. Supposedly BMW will introduce the SMG (sequential manual F1 style shifter) for it soon. Of course, typical of BMW, traction control can be fully turned off instead of just dialed down. The car is a big wider and a bit longer and you can the dimensional difference too. It has more of a "presence" than the more compact E46 platform. But I think that the weight is just about the same at around 3500-lbs. I didn't spend a lot of time learning about the various luxurious doodads (I'm a driver and not a gadget freak) but the quality and finish is also typical BMW. I don't care what BMW claim, the cars that are made and assembled in Germany seem to be more solid than the cars assembled in the US. The leathers and fit and finish are much better than my assembled-in-South Carolina Z4. For those who are gluttons for punishment, there is an iDrive option for the 3-series E90 platform. Hopping back onto my adopted father's Acura TL to head to Santa Fe then later on cruised the asphalt jungle in one of my best friend's Chrysler 300C V8 and I can see why BMW is the Ultimate Driving Machine. The Acura's fit and finish are better and the navigation system is a techno geek's delight with such a revvy V6 and the Chrysler 300 with its tire smoking V8 is a hot rodder's darling. But the machines are always more than the sums of their parts. If you want a true driver's car, then the 330 is for you. I can't wait for the next Z4 to be built on this chassis. And to be sure that I wasn't totally biased (hehe), I took the Chrysler owner to Sandia BMW for a test drive the next day. His comment was, "Whoaa, this thing has a 3 liter six?" The E90 isn't just a slightly updated E46 but an entirely new animal with a great leap forward in performance. Supposedly there are the usual plethora of luxury and electronic wizardry but I didn't bother to find out. I was too busy burning rubbers. Yes, you can buy the Chrysler 300C or the Dodge Charger with a V8 and a lot more room for much less price. Yes, you can buy a boosted up rice burner (WRX Sti, Evo) for much less price and a whole lot more performance. Yes, you can buy a Mustang GT convertible for a lot less price and more performance. Yes, you can buy a GTO for about the same price with a whole lot more performance. Yes, you can buy an Acura or Lexus for a lot more refinement. Yes, you can buy a Nissan for a lot more refinement and performance. But if you want a compact sport sedan that will put a smile on your face for years to come, I can't think of something better. The best news is the E90's base price is about $600 higher than the E46's base price. Wanna kill these ads? We can help!