Exterior Design ***
Thanks to Bavaria s blingtastic Bangalization, the 325xi Sports Wagon s perceived size and aesthetic appeal depend entirely on the viewing distance, angle and time of day. It looks big, then small, then sporty, then clunky It s the MC Escher of lifestyle station wagons. Is that a good thing? Let s just say the 325xi Sports Wagon s design is interesting — in the sense that you never quite know if you like it or not.
The Sports Wagon s sweet-singing syrupy six is stifled by 500lbs. of four-wheel-drivery and a go-pedal that s deader than a doornail that s been shot, strangled, poisoned and hung. Once you manage to roust the 325xi s powerplant above 3500rpm, BMW s valve technology corrals all 215 horses on your behalf, restoring ultimate driving brand-vibe. It s too little, too late.
Like several Bimmers we ve tested of late, the anchors are touchier than a subway sex pest, requiring more far conscious concentration/modulation than you d expect for a car so dear. (And I mean that financially.) Nothing wrong with their effectiveness, tho .
BMW s new five-link/five-beam rear suspension is an excellent device, and there ain t nothing wrong with that double pivot front suspension neither (provided all that aluminum casting don t warp none). Still, Bimmer chassismeisters were out of tune on this one. To get the lardy little load lugger to handle, they sacrificed suspension travel (especially for a vehicle that s gonna carry heavy stuff). Around town ride comfort is only slightly more than merely adequate. Hit a bad pothole and you ll think you done broke it.
Hey! Not bad! Once you finally . get the thing going, once you develop the triceps needed to heave the hefty tiller to and fro, you can continue negotiate the twisty bits at speed without unduly rousting the electronic Nanny or raising your insurance premiums. On the downside, there s about 10% too much body lean through the corners, the chairs are less supportive than an NRA lobbyist discussing gun control legislation and the aforementioned suspension issue can be a crashing bore.
In case you haven t guessed it by now, our test wagon was autoboxed. While the changes are as glass pane seamless, the mileage-seeking six-speed displayed a worrying reluctance to kick down at highway speeds (creating a lot of sound and fury signifying nothing).
The 325xi get full marks for its optional $1200 MP3-compatible killer stereo, and the absence of iDrive. Blame the head unit display s game of hide and hide with sunglass wearers for our astral stinginess.
Although we re personally happy that BMW follows the industry practice of loading press cars to the gunnels with every toy in their extensive catalogue, private motorists are advised to spec lightly. There s no gotta-have toy, the 325xi is plenty pricey as is, and you ll never see that money again as long as you live.
It s a hatchback, innit? The rear seats fold with ease to accommodate the schlepping needs of the model s snow-paranoid, antique-carrying, DINK-niche buyers.
[by Robert Farago]
Jalopnik Reviews: 2006 BMW 325ix Sport Wagon, Part 1 [internal]