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  #1  
Old 24th July 2012
croadan croadan is offline
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Default Saab 9-5 Aero vs BMW 328i

Last week, I went to California for a week-long vacation. My best friend from high school lives out there, and I was able to stay at his place in Oakland with my wife and 4 year old son. Happily, he was also able to use his motorcycle all week, so he loaned us his 2007 BMW 328i (4-door). After a week and about 450 miles of mixed driving...

I am no expert, so please forgive in advance any issues of writing or organization...

My daily ride is a 2009 Saab 9-5 aero sedan (black with ventilated seats, stock) with about 50K miles on it. My buddy's daily ride is a 2007 BMW 328i (white, with aftermarket window tint, otherwise stock) with similar mileage.

Exterior: Well, we can all look at the exterior of these cars online, and pick the style we like. The Saab appears bigger, the BMW appears fairly compact and narrow. I am not a huge fan of the chrome trim on the front of my car, but the BMW didn't do anything for me visually (I don't really like white cars).

Interior: Okay, the interior of the BMW was tight. It was pretty much all leather with a band of wood on the dash (the Saab Aero has a piece of plastic that is supposed to look like aluminium). BMW has a key-less fob that clicks into a slot in the dash, and push button start/stop.
In comparison, the interior of the Saab looks and feels less nice. I really didn't expect to have this experience because I like my Saab interior (although my 2005 Saab 9-5 linear has much nicer materials than my 09 Aero). The Saab has nice leather on the seats and the steering wheel, but it falls behind on every other surface. The Saab isn't bad, the BMW is just nicer. The Saab seats are overstuffed and rather plush compared to the BMW seats. The BMW seats are VERY firm, and they have adequate side bolsters but the Saab's bolsters are more supportive. By the end of the week, my wife was complaining that the BMW seats were too hard, and she had pain in her buttocks. Also, the BMW head rests tilt forward and sort of force your head forward. This annoyed both of us all week long. The BMW has a fantastic lumbar support that can be adjusted in numerous ways including size and vertical location. I wish that my Saab had this also.
A comfortable driving position is easily had in either car, and the seats and steering wheel are very adjustable in both. The Saab feels huge compared to the BMW in terms of interior space front and rear. The BMW doesn't feel cramped, but it is much more similar to a 9-3 SS in terms of interior space. In fact, the 328i is much more similar overall to the 2004 9-3 SS that i used to own. Trunk space is okay in the beemer and vast in the Saab

Options: Both cars have a fully operable sunroof. The Saab's has little holes in the sun shade part to allow air through when the sunroof is tipped up, and the BMW prevents the sunshade from closing fully when the back of the sunroof is tipped up. The BMW has one touch down and one touch up on all four windows! I wish that the Saab had this. The Saab has one touch down on the front two windows. Full power adjustable seats on both, however, my Saab has heated seats front and rear, and it has ventilated front seats. The BMW had neither. The beemer has a charging station and a music plug-in in the center console that was pretty nice. It also has blue-tooth. The Saab has an Aux-in on the dash, and Onstar for those who are willing to pay for the contract. The Saab also has the option of satellite radio for those who want to pay for it.
The BMW has two functional cup holders. (one of Saab's less desirable "quirks" is the cup-holder issue).

I was not able to get used to the BMW's directional stalk all week. It would turn on, but I had a hard time turning it off.

Driving: The beemer was great. It was fast, level, consistent, and never made a fuss. Acceleration was so smooth that it felt slow (even though it is not). Corners were totally neutral and there was literally no side roll. The suspension was a lot firmer than my Aero and I felt every bump. The steering wheel feel was not to firm and not too light (in comparison, the Aero has a heavier feel to the steering at low speeds, and my 9-5 linear has a much lighter steering feel at low speeds).

When I got back in the Aero, I was surprised by how cushy it felt. More roll in the corners, but soaking up bumps. It felt really big too. The Aero is fast when the turbo kicks in, but I never noticed any turbo lag until now. After a week in the beemer, I totally notice the lag now!

These are VERY different cars. The Beemer is definitely a sports sedan, while the Aero feels more like a cushy cruiser by comparison. I like both of them very much for different reasons, and if my buddy offered me a straight across trade, I would keep my Aero. I like that it is unique, and it fits my family more comfortably. The seats are more comfortable for hour long rides, and I love the "feel" of the turbo. Gas mileage was similar.

We both bought our cars in 2010 (with similar mileage), and while I paid just under $20K for the Saab, my buddy paid $26k for the beemer which is 2 years older.
.... got to get back to work now, feel free to ask questions or simply troll.
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  #2  
Old 24th July 2012
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I was expecting race results. Now I'm sad...

But yes, every you said is EXACTLY right. I drove my friends 325xi awhile back, and it felt so slow (Well, it was actually kind of slow...) compared to my 9-5. But in terms of ride/handling, my 9-5 was a boat by comparison. Price wise I bought my '03 9-5 with every option in 2009 with 72k for $9600 in perfect condition, and he bought his 2003 325xi base in 2010 with 95k needing a few repairs for $7500.

Same friend just got a 2008 328xi that I haven't driven.....yet.
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  #3  
Old 24th July 2012
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I recently took a long ride as passenger in a friend's new-to-him 2002 328i coupe. His previous car was a mid-'90s Accord 2-dr. He's NOT a car guy by any means, and this 328i belonged to a cousin of his who was trading up but wanted the old car to stay in the family, so my friend took it. Hey I'm a car guy and can appreciate the qualities of BMW's engineering (just not most of the drivers nor some of their recent designs, no offense to y'all). But man that 328i rocked. Similar to what Croadan said. Would I buy one (used) ? ..... no. Would I keep one if someone gave it to me ...... yes. Esp. the coupe.
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  #4  
Old 24th July 2012
Brandnew70x7 Brandnew70x7 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SaabKen View Post
I recently took a long ride as passenger in a friend's new-to-him 2002 328i coupe. His previous car was a mid-'90s Accord 2-dr. He's NOT a car guy by any means, and this 328i belonged to a cousin of his who was trading up but wanted the old car to stay in the family, so my friend took it. Hey I'm a car guy and can appreciate the qualities of BMW's engineering (just not most of the drivers nor some of their recent designs, no offense to y'all). But man that 328i rocked. Similar to what Croadan said. Would I buy one (used) ? ..... no. Would I keep one if someone gave it to me ...... yes. Esp. the coupe.
Please tell me when you say recent designs you're not referring to the newest 328i?

Because that car seems phenomenal. I almost bought one... could've had it for 28k brand new+generously equipped with my deployed military discount . I test drove a NA 328i E92 some time ago and I really liked it, it felt far faster than I expected it to, but the new one is apparently even faster and turbo.. AND four cylinders.
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  #5  
Old 24th July 2012
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Your 9-5's just need a tune-up and an ecu tune from rabbit or JZW. It's a whole new world.
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  #6  
Old 24th July 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brandnew70x7 View Post
Please tell me when you say recent designs you're not referring to the newest 328i?

Because that car seems phenomenal. I almost bought one... could've had it for 28k brand new+generously equipped with my deployed military discount . I test drove a NA 328i E92 some time ago and I really liked it, it felt far faster than I expected it to, but the new one is apparently even faster and turbo.. AND four cylinders.
After watching the Motorweek (anybody else watches that snooze fest) episode where they reviewed the new 328, I was pretty much "sold" on the idea of getting one.
Decent performance, good balance, more room, I don't hate the styling, great fuel economy.....what's not to like....Oh, yeah, its a BMW, but who cares anymore........
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  #7  
Old 24th July 2012
Brandnew70x7 Brandnew70x7 is offline
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They're saying the DCT is as fast as the new Manual 335i. I found that quite humorous.
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  #8  
Old 26th July 2012
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The DCT is faster, actually. I wanted one until I learned that the parts to replace the clutch packs are not available as individual part numbers; you need to buy a whole new transmission (at almost $13K). While it's true that the DCT in the F30 uses wet clutches, I'm still very wary. At least the old ZF and the more recent GS6-53BZ six-speed manual are repairable (parts are readily available), they're d@mned near bulletproof and the clutches are very inexpensive (well, as far as performance clutches of that durability are concerned) as well.
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  #9  
Old 26th July 2012
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Its the future though. Those prices are gonna drop significantly. I'm really big on efficiency and the DCT is a wonderful system. My next car will definitely be a DCT.
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  #10  
Old 30th July 2012
mad-machine mad-machine is offline
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there is a reason I own both a Saab and a BMW...
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  #11  
Old 30th July 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by croadan View Post
Last week, I went to California for a week-long vacation. My best friend from high school lives out there, and I was able to stay at his place in Oakland with my wife and 4 year old son. Happily, he was also able to use his motorcycle all week, so he loaned us his 2007 BMW 328i (4-door). After a week and about 450 miles of mixed driving...

I am no expert, so please forgive in advance any issues of writing or organization...

My daily ride is a 2009 Saab 9-5 aero sedan (black with ventilated seats, stock) with about 50K miles on it. My buddy's daily ride is a 2007 BMW 328i (white, with aftermarket window tint, otherwise stock) with similar mileage.

Exterior: Well, we can all look at the exterior of these cars online, and pick the style we like. The Saab appears bigger, the BMW appears fairly compact and narrow. I am not a huge fan of the chrome trim on the front of my car, but the BMW didn't do anything for me visually (I don't really like white cars).

Interior: Okay, the interior of the BMW was tight. It was pretty much all leather with a band of wood on the dash (the Saab Aero has a piece of plastic that is supposed to look like aluminium). BMW has a key-less fob that clicks into a slot in the dash, and push button start/stop.
In comparison, the interior of the Saab looks and feels less nice. I really didn't expect to have this experience because I like my Saab interior (although my 2005 Saab 9-5 linear has much nicer materials than my 09 Aero). The Saab has nice leather on the seats and the steering wheel, but it falls behind on every other surface. The Saab isn't bad, the BMW is just nicer. The Saab seats are overstuffed and rather plush compared to the BMW seats. The BMW seats are VERY firm, and they have adequate side bolsters but the Saab's bolsters are more supportive. By the end of the week, my wife was complaining that the BMW seats were too hard, and she had pain in her buttocks. Also, the BMW head rests tilt forward and sort of force your head forward. This annoyed both of us all week long. The BMW has a fantastic lumbar support that can be adjusted in numerous ways including size and vertical location. I wish that my Saab had this also.
A comfortable driving position is easily had in either car, and the seats and steering wheel are very adjustable in both. The Saab feels huge compared to the BMW in terms of interior space front and rear. The BMW doesn't feel cramped, but it is much more similar to a 9-3 SS in terms of interior space. In fact, the 328i is much more similar overall to the 2004 9-3 SS that i used to own. Trunk space is okay in the beemer and vast in the Saab

Options: Both cars have a fully operable sunroof. The Saab's has little holes in the sun shade part to allow air through when the sunroof is tipped up, and the BMW prevents the sunshade from closing fully when the back of the sunroof is tipped up. The BMW has one touch down and one touch up on all four windows! I wish that the Saab had this. The Saab has one touch down on the front two windows. Full power adjustable seats on both, however, my Saab has heated seats front and rear, and it has ventilated front seats. The BMW had neither. The beemer has a charging station and a music plug-in in the center console that was pretty nice. It also has blue-tooth. The Saab has an Aux-in on the dash, and Onstar for those who are willing to pay for the contract. The Saab also has the option of satellite radio for those who want to pay for it.
The BMW has two functional cup holders. (one of Saab's less desirable "quirks" is the cup-holder issue).

I was not able to get used to the BMW's directional stalk all week. It would turn on, but I had a hard time turning it off.

Driving: The beemer was great. It was fast, level, consistent, and never made a fuss. Acceleration was so smooth that it felt slow (even though it is not). Corners were totally neutral and there was literally no side roll. The suspension was a lot firmer than my Aero and I felt every bump. The steering wheel feel was not to firm and not too light (in comparison, the Aero has a heavier feel to the steering at low speeds, and my 9-5 linear has a much lighter steering feel at low speeds).

When I got back in the Aero, I was surprised by how cushy it felt. More roll in the corners, but soaking up bumps. It felt really big too. The Aero is fast when the turbo kicks in, but I never noticed any turbo lag until now. After a week in the beemer, I totally notice the lag now!

These are VERY different cars. The Beemer is definitely a sports sedan, while the Aero feels more like a cushy cruiser by comparison. I like both of them very much for different reasons, and if my buddy offered me a straight across trade, I would keep my Aero. I like that it is unique, and it fits my family more comfortably. The seats are more comfortable for hour long rides, and I love the "feel" of the turbo. Gas mileage was similar.

We both bought our cars in 2010 (with similar mileage), and while I paid just under $20K for the Saab, my buddy paid $26k for the beemer which is 2 years older.
.... got to get back to work now, feel free to ask questions or simply troll.
If nothing else one is going to look at a 9-5 twice going down the road ( wondering what kind of car it is) and the BMW will get blended into the Camrys' and Accords'. Not dissing the bimmer, just a visual perspective. Even before I became a 9-5 owner, I would look at a 9-5 more than a 3 series. That's just me though. A BMW fan myself, I tend to go old school and stick w/the 4 exposed headlamp style, boxy body look of the late 80's. M5 and 635csi are my faves.
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  #12  
Old 30th July 2012
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E46 M3 ftw
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  #13  
Old 30th July 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by croadan View Post
Last week, I went to California for a week-long vacation. My best friend from high school lives out there, and I was able to stay at his place in Oakland with my wife and 4 year old son. Happily, he was also able to use his motorcycle all week, so he loaned us his 2007 BMW 328i (4-door). After a week and about 450 miles of mixed driving...

I am no expert, so please forgive in advance any issues of writing or organization...

My daily ride is a 2009 Saab 9-5 aero sedan (black with ventilated seats, stock) with about 50K miles on it. My buddy's daily ride is a 2007 BMW 328i (white, with aftermarket window tint, otherwise stock) with similar mileage.

Exterior: Well, we can all look at the exterior of these cars online, and pick the style we like. The Saab appears bigger, the BMW appears fairly compact and narrow. I am not a huge fan of the chrome trim on the front of my car, but the BMW didn't do anything for me visually (I don't really like white cars).

Interior: Okay, the interior of the BMW was tight. It was pretty much all leather with a band of wood on the dash (the Saab Aero has a piece of plastic that is supposed to look like aluminium). BMW has a key-less fob that clicks into a slot in the dash, and push button start/stop.
In comparison, the interior of the Saab looks and feels less nice. I really didn't expect to have this experience because I like my Saab interior (although my 2005 Saab 9-5 linear has much nicer materials than my 09 Aero). The Saab has nice leather on the seats and the steering wheel, but it falls behind on every other surface. The Saab isn't bad, the BMW is just nicer. The Saab seats are overstuffed and rather plush compared to the BMW seats. The BMW seats are VERY firm, and they have adequate side bolsters but the Saab's bolsters are more supportive. By the end of the week, my wife was complaining that the BMW seats were too hard, and she had pain in her buttocks. Also, the BMW head rests tilt forward and sort of force your head forward. This annoyed both of us all week long. The BMW has a fantastic lumbar support that can be adjusted in numerous ways including size and vertical location. I wish that my Saab had this also.
A comfortable driving position is easily had in either car, and the seats and steering wheel are very adjustable in both. The Saab feels huge compared to the BMW in terms of interior space front and rear. The BMW doesn't feel cramped, but it is much more similar to a 9-3 SS in terms of interior space. In fact, the 328i is much more similar overall to the 2004 9-3 SS that i used to own. Trunk space is okay in the beemer and vast in the Saab

Options: Both cars have a fully operable sunroof. The Saab's has little holes in the sun shade part to allow air through when the sunroof is tipped up, and the BMW prevents the sunshade from closing fully when the back of the sunroof is tipped up. The BMW has one touch down and one touch up on all four windows! I wish that the Saab had this. The Saab has one touch down on the front two windows. Full power adjustable seats on both, however, my Saab has heated seats front and rear, and it has ventilated front seats. The BMW had neither. The beemer has a charging station and a music plug-in in the center console that was pretty nice. It also has blue-tooth. The Saab has an Aux-in on the dash, and Onstar for those who are willing to pay for the contract. The Saab also has the option of satellite radio for those who want to pay for it.
The BMW has two functional cup holders. (one of Saab's less desirable "quirks" is the cup-holder issue).

I was not able to get used to the BMW's directional stalk all week. It would turn on, but I had a hard time turning it off.

Driving: The beemer was great. It was fast, level, consistent, and never made a fuss. Acceleration was so smooth that it felt slow (even though it is not). Corners were totally neutral and there was literally no side roll. The suspension was a lot firmer than my Aero and I felt every bump. The steering wheel feel was not to firm and not too light (in comparison, the Aero has a heavier feel to the steering at low speeds, and my 9-5 linear has a much lighter steering feel at low speeds).

When I got back in the Aero, I was surprised by how cushy it felt. More roll in the corners, but soaking up bumps. It felt really big too. The Aero is fast when the turbo kicks in, but I never noticed any turbo lag until now. After a week in the beemer, I totally notice the lag now!

These are VERY different cars. The Beemer is definitely a sports sedan, while the Aero feels more like a cushy cruiser by comparison. I like both of them very much for different reasons, and if my buddy offered me a straight across trade, I would keep my Aero. I like that it is unique, and it fits my family more comfortably. The seats are more comfortable for hour long rides, and I love the "feel" of the turbo. Gas mileage was similar.

We both bought our cars in 2010 (with similar mileage), and while I paid just under $20K for the Saab, my buddy paid $26k for the beemer which is 2 years older.
.... got to get back to work now, feel free to ask questions or simply troll.
If you put in some SAS sway bars, Powerflex bushings, and Koni struts, you would find your 9-5 an entirely different animal.
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  #14  
Old 30th July 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rarelibra View Post
If you put in some SAS sway bars, Powerflex bushings, and Koni struts, you would find your 9-5 an entirely different animal.
I wish I had $1000+ to do that...lol.
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  #15  
Old 30th July 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by J-Rod View Post
I wish I had $1000+ to do that...lol.
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  #16  
Old 30th July 2012
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I didn't mean anything by that...I literally meant I wish I did.
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  #17  
Old 30th July 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by J-Rod View Post
I didn't mean anything by that...I literally meant I wish I did.
Neither did I - I was being a smart ***

What can I say - my Saab is my hobby
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  #18  
Old 31st July 2012
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I went from a 2004 BMW 325 convertible to a 1991 Saab 900 turbo convertible. The BMW was totaled [and paid off] in an accident so I took the cash from the settlement and bought the Saab.

The BMW handled with more finesse and looked sharper but it was less comfortable, much slower, and equally poor on fuel economy (18-21 mpg mixed). The BMW had a 5-speed auto, my Saab has a 3-speed auto.

The 325's braking was vastly superior, however.

Ride quality was comparable. The Saab is harsh but the BMW was noticeably harsher, mostly because I had 18" sport wheels as part of an appearance and handling package.



Last year I drove a 2001 BMW 330 automatic convertible back to back with my Saab. With the larger I-6, the BMW had much more power, fantastic acceleration, and powerful brakes, but the steering was too light and loose (they improved it in later years) which made it hard to enjoy at normal speeds. It has higher handling, braking, and acceleration limits which meant you were babying it around town and seldom using it to its potential.

The BMW weighs 500-700 lbs more than my 900, but it shows in how wobbly my 900's structure is.


Convertible to convertible, the E46 is without question a superior car (and I can vouch for its safety), and it certainly ought to be considering the difference in age. However, it's not as much fun to drive.
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  #19  
Old 31st July 2012
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The size difference I would expect since the 9-5 was designed to compete with the 5 series and the 9-3 with the 3 series. When I was looking for my wagon I was cross shopping with the 5 series wagon, interior space is about equal between the two but the 525iT and 528iT were much too slow, I did like the 540iT but they were pretty hard to find and were snatched up pretty quickly.
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  #20  
Old 31st July 2012
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A co-worker gave me the keys to his 2009 328i 6-speed (loaded with every possible option).... Have to say that the only thing that my Aero does better is accelerate due to the torque. The Beemer is by no means short on power and it handles, stops and rides miles better than the SAAB.

I wouldn't at all mind a CPO 328 with AWD (his is RWD) as my next vehicle... They really are fantastic cars.
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