Written on: 29/09/2001 by Mike M..
Great combination of power, speed, handling and luxury features.
Expensive (but worth the money, especially given the low depreciation).
For the past five years I have been driving a 1995 Honda Prelude Si, but last week I took the plunge and bought a 2001 330 Ci Coupe. I got the 5-speed manual transmission and the cold weather, sports and premium packages.
I've put about 300 miles on the car, and so far I am very impressed. No, it's not the fastest or most powerful sports car, but it is still great in those areas. (If you want more speed and power, the limited-production M3 has 333 HP.) What makes the 330 Ci superior is its combination of sports car power and handling, its silky-smooth manual transmission, and the great array of luxury features (steering wheel stereo/CD controls; semi-automatic interior temerature controls; onboard computer; power seats w/lumbar; the car even has headlight washers, for God's sake!)
Despite the luxury features, though, the 330 Ci is more sports car than luxury car. You will definitely feel the road--a good thing for sports car enthusiasts. As for safety features, the brakes are excellent. I've seen other reviewers talk about a shimmy in the steering wheel when the brakes are applied, and I have personally had that happen once when I hit the brakes really hard, but under normal conditions there is no hint of the problem. My particular vehicle was manufactured in April 2001; I understand that this problem was more pronounced on earlier models. The same goes for the "loose" steering on pre-April 2001 models; the steering on my car is tight and focused.
Also, a lot of people have complained about the Harmon Kardon stereo system. I agree that it could have better tone separation, but if nothing else it is very clear and does not distort at loud volumes. Hopefully BMW will upgrade the stereo system in subsequent models.
If you're considering a 330 Ci, you should be aware that there is a recall that applies to some of the 2001s. The recall is, I believe, for the cooling fan motor. My dealer told me they weren't aware of the recall, but after they researched the issue they determined that the recall applied to my car and replaced the necessary parts. Be sure to check this out before you buy.
Overall, I'm thrilled with 330 Ci. I gave my Prelude to my 73-year-old mom--she loves the car, as well as the smiles she gets from people who get a kick out of seeing her behind the wheel.