COAL: 2016 BMW 228i xDrive – There’s No Point In Living If You Can’t Feel Alive

2016 BMW 228i xDrive

Well, from the cover picture and title, I think it’s clear what I decided to replace my 2010 Acura TSX with. For nearly my entire life I’ve dreamed of owning a BMW. It’s been my favorite brand ever since I laid eyes on my first E36 convertible, and a couple weeks ago I made that dream happen with this 2016 BMW 228i xDrive coupe. My first BMW, my first coupe, my first brand new car, and my first vehicle that I paid for entirely with my own hard-earned money — it was a very proud day.

DSC_0002(I didn’t realize how the wind deflector that pops up when the sunroof is open looks like a tiara)

Automotive sales is not a job to take lightly — the hours are long (typically 9-10 hour days, 5-6 days per week), a lot of legwork is involved, some customers can be extremely difficult to work with for one reason or another, reaching an agreement can be nail-biting, and sometimes you will spend hours or even multiple meetings with a prospect, only for them not to buy a car. Luck definitely plays a part, but like most careers in sales, your success correlates to the time and effort you put into it.

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That being said, I truly love my job, the people I work with, and the company I work for. Having worked a desk job in public relations, where I was stuck in a windowless cubicle behind a computer screen doing mindless busywork for 8 hours a day, I am very thankful to have a job where I’m working face-to-face with people, constantly on my feet, and every day is a different journey.

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Selling cars has also blessed me with a pretty decent income (substantially better than any entry-level office job), putting me in the place where I can comfortably afford a car of this price point, while still maintaining the lifestyle I’m accustomed to, and at the end of the day still save a portion of my monthly income. It’s an understatement to say that I did all the necessary research and planned this out perfectly, waiting to pull the trigger until I knew I had “all my ducks in a row”, as customers sometimes say.

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Of BMW’s current lineup, I’ve found the 2-Series coupe most appealing based on my needs, and it’s been high on my radar for the past two years or so, making it an easy choice. I actually first “met” my very car about two months prior, sitting right outside the front door at BMW Gallery Norwood, where my dealer group’s main offices are. I had to go out there again to get a vehicle’s title in late June, and this car was still there. It was instant attraction and I knew it was a match made in heaven; but being a reasonably prudent person, I knew I had to wait just a bit longer and not rush into things.

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Having probably spent hours each week over the past year building 228s online, there were only several configurations I deemed “worth it” if I did indeed pull the trigger. I had originally intended to place a special order, but there’s something different about seeing a car in the metal as opposed to a computer-generated image that will take 6-8 additional weeks to arrive from Germany (in the 2-Series’ case, Leipzig to be exact) in life-size form. This one had all the packages I wanted and more, I loved the interior/exterior color combination, it had the upgraded wheels, AND in proper luxury car fashion, wood trim. Overall it was a very elegant package, and it really got my heart racing.

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After obtaining a quote from my insurance company and discovering that my insurance would only go up by a negligible amount, I decided it was finally time to just do it already. I inquired with South Shore BMW’s general manager as to whether the car was still available, then went over the general details of a BMW Group employee lease (which discounts the selling price of the car, unfortunately not as much as you’d think), had my trade appraised, and they brought the car over from our other BMW store. I signed the contracts the following day and with that, I was the proud owner (or to be accurate, lessee for the next 36 months) of a new BMW, fulfilling a dream I’ve had for some two decades.

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One thing I really like about the 2-Series is that it’s a car you don’t see too many of on the road. Much like the V6 model of the TSX, I like the idea of driving something a little different. It makes you feel like you’re part of an exclusive club. I could have gone for a slightly larger 3-Series for a few bucks less per month, but let’s be honest, everyone and their mother who buys a new BMW gets a 3-Series. It just didn’t spark the same emotional response for me as the 2. Furthermore, I’ve always dreamed of owning a coupe and felt like now’s a good time as ever as a mid-20s bachelor to try out the whole personal luxury thing.

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What drew me to this specific car was of course was the way it was equipped. In Jet Black over Terra Dakota Leather and Fineline wood trim with silver accent, this color and trim combination really called to my tastes, as did the upgraded 18-inch double spoke (384 Style) light alloy wheels. The accessory black kidney grilles wouldn’t have been something I thought I would like, but they give the car an appreciated fiercer look. Plus, there’s still adequate chrome accenting the lower bumper and surrounding the windows to give it the elegant appearance I prefer over the BMW M cars’ in-your-face aggressiveness.

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As far as packages go, this 228 has everything I would’ve ordered and more. Included are: Cold Weather Package (heated steering wheel, heated front seats, retractable headlight washers), Lighting Package (Full-LED running lights, Xenon headlights), Premium Package (universal garage-door opener, Comfort Access key-less entry, moonroof, auto-dimming exterior mirrors, auto-dimming rear-view mirror, power front seat lumbar support, ambient lighting, satellite radio w/1 year subscription), Driver Assistance Package (rear-view camera, park distance control), and Technology Package (navigation system, BMW Online and BMW Apps, advanced RTTI, remote services). The latter two packages I could’ve done without, but I’m not going to lie, they’re welcomed additions.

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Among my favorite features are the uber-comfortable and supportive seats, offering 10-way power adjustments, plus 4-way power lumbar adjustment and 2-way manual thigh cushion adjustment. Never before did I think I’d own a car with power adjustable side bolsters — something very much appreciated to tightly coddle my ectomorphic frame. Active Comfort Ventilation is another novel feature, and one especially appreciated on these hot, humid days. Simply set the time of day you want, and for one half hour (I always do it a half hour before I’m out of work) the car opens up the vents, drawing in fresh air and releasing the stale, muggy air that’s been inside the car all day.

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Equally awesome is having Comfort Access, as I now never need to take my keys out of my pocket and can unlock my car by placing my hand within the door handle, or lock it by placing two fingers over it — very James Bond-like. A few other neat features include a suburb voice command (I can enter an entire address for nav in full or simply tell it to call one of my contacts and it will), programmable memory keys (the radio preset buttons can be used as shortcuts or favorites for anything within the iDrive), and of course the incredibly seductive LED running lights.

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But enough about gizmos and gadgets. After all this is a BMW, and BMW’s most rewarding quality has always been the driving experience. I’ve been fortunate to get behind the wheel of many luxury and performance cars, but there’s nothing that can quite compare to that precise handling and empowering driving experience possessed by a BMW.

DSC_0021(Fog lights double as active cornering lights at night based on the direction the wheel is turned)

Even among modern BMWs I’ve driven, there’s something special about the 2-Series. Rewarding in every way I could possibly describe, it just feels so pure and perfect. Everything about it is just so smooth and refined, how it rides, how it corners, how it accelerates. Step on the gas a little harder or put it into Sport mode, and you release its inner speed demon and greatly amplified exhaust notes — something very fun to do on an open stretch of road.

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The 240-horsepower and 255-lb-ft of torque from its super smooth 2.0L twin-scroll turbo get the 228i xDrive from zero to sixty in just a tenth over 5 seconds flat, which is more than enough for driving to work. The steering has a tight, connected feeling that requires just the right amount of effort to be utterly flawless. Maneuvers are direct and precise, with the car feeling like it’s fully under driver control one-hundred percent of the time. This car really gives meaning to the claim that sometimes it’s just about going for a drive for the pure fun of it, and not having anywhere to go.

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Above all, what I think I like best about this car is that it’s very “me”. By this I mean it perfectly fits my personality, my lifestyle, and the image I strive for for like a glove. The size of the 2-Series is just right, the driving dynamics are amazing, and the luxury amenities are everything I could’ve wanted and more. Now being closer to 25 than 20, this was the next major milestone in my adult life. I’ve achieved the car of my dreams and couldn’t be happier!

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As a final note, isn’t it ironic that I’ve gone against the trend of most-car buying Americans, from an SUV to a sedan to a coupe? If this is what “downsizing” is, I’m ready to embrace it full-throttle!

Photographed at Nantasket Beach, Hull, MA – August 2016

Related Reading (My COAL Series):

2004 Toyota Highlander Limited

2010 Acura TSX V6