OK - so I finally got to drive the 2006 325xi. I have to say the dealer did all they could to accommodate my request for a used car. The 2006 is the bigger body year, and it has almost all of the options I'd want. The car was clean (looked brand new) and had only 10,000 miles on it since it was a dealer executive car. The only thing I didn't like about the car was it was only 215 hp. Barely a step up from my Audi and a long way from the >300 hp 335xi which won engine of the year.
Winning Car: The 335xi!
So I am planning on getting the 2008 BMW 335xi in a manual. After driving the used 325xi I drove the 335xi and liked the engine a lot better. The dealer asked which one I wanted to take home for a night, so I took the 335xi. That was a lot of fun. I was able to drive it around for a night, even took it to work and took some friends out to lunch in it. When I returned the car I had put 114 of the cars 116 miles on it! I told Meghan I was going to sleep in the car than night but I just ended up driving around town and picking people up for a joy ride.
Performance Test Drive
When I returned the car and told the dealer I was interested in the 335xi he said I should come in on Saturday morning for a performance test drive. I said sure, but had no idea what I was getting into! Long story short it consisted of taking a series of tight turns at a crazy 55 mph and going from 0 to 125 mph to get on the highway! I have to say I was a bit scared at times since the salesman that took me out was younger than me and we were in his personal 335i. The car handles amazingly well and would be a lot of fun to drive. Though my car will have options for a little more luxury than sport. This guy had all sport options and didn't take some luxury ones (like Nav system) because he "couldn't afford the weight!"
I think the dealer recommneded the performance test drive because I mentioned I wanted to do the performance center delivery if I ordered a BMW. Basically I get to tear around a series of courses on a test track with a professional driver instructing me (in a car idential to mine), and then tour the factory and museum and then have my car delivered in my own showroom. And it costs the same as having your car delivered to your local dealer. It'll be a nice 7 hour drive back to Cincinnati in my new car!
So that's it - the car search for me is probably over, I am sure everyone has their own idea of the perfect car but the 335xi is a great fit for me and has just about everything I'd want. Now I just need to pick an exterior color (I am down to picking among 3-4 colors). I will keep you posted on the progress.