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Go Back   E46Fanatics > E46 BMW > E46 Xi Forum

E46 Xi Forum
The E46 XI was produced from 01-05 in sedan and touring body styles. Powered by either a 2.5L inline 6 in the 325xi or a 3.0L inline 6 330xi. Discuss all thing about BMW AWD E46 'Xi' here.

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Old 05-19-2010, 04:51 AM   #1
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Location: Fallston, Maryland
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My Ride: 2004 325xi
Opinions on Xi please

I own a 2003 325i I bought for my wife, which we love. I now need a car for my son, so I am contemplating letting him drive my 2006 Subaru Legacy, and getting myself another AWD car. I am comparing used E46 xi models verses an Audi A4 or A6. I've owned an A6 before, and I know their AWD system is very good, but I know very little about the BMW system. I would be considering an automatic for this car. Can some people please give me their opinions? I assume it's mostly RWD with some torque sent to front when it senses slippage? How does it perform in the real world? Thanks.
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Old 05-19-2010, 05:59 AM   #2
ferngreen 325xi
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My Ride: 2001 325XI wagon.
We bought a 2001 325xi wagon about four years ago after our son totaled our all wheel drive van. Being we live in Vermont, all wheel drive was a necessity. We also have a very steep, long driveway and all but the worst conditions we have never had a issue getting up to the house. I bought steel rims and hub caps for winter and put Dunlop M3 snow tires on the rims. Our BMW has a permanent 38-64 split between the front and rear along with DCS, IE when a tire slips the brakes slow that wheel down to catch up with the others. We have put roughly 50 K on the car since we purchased it and it has never let us down. Hope this answered some of your concerns.
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Old 05-19-2010, 06:28 AM   #3
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great in the snow, paired with the dsc.....its gotten me out of alot of thick sauce....(makes me look like a hero when i would take snowy corners too quick) ehhehe, but that being said bmws AWD is.....meh....boots will always go first
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Old 05-19-2010, 08:46 AM   #4
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Stick BMW. I have xi. Love it. Audi are nothing but pita. Too many horror stories. Used to own 97 a4 awd
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Old 05-19-2010, 08:50 AM   #5
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I have an 04 330xi. It's rear wheel biased with torque split fixed at about 62-38 as i recall. Unlike some of the Audi's, it's not a torsen center differential but a transfer case with fixed torque split. Works fine in the snow, especially with dedicated winter tires and rims. But you should test drive, as the awd adds about 200 lbs to the weight of the car, and it has a different suspension set-up, and I think a somewhat higher ride height. The ride difference may be noticeable as you have owned a rear drive E46 before, others may not notice it. The front subframe and differential add a bunch of stuff underneath which make it more difficult to get engine access for diy stuff, if that is important to you. The awd adds more complexity with more maintenance costs and things to go wrong, in addition to the weight penalty, so it only makes sense to me if you have to drive regularly in snow.
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Old 05-19-2010, 09:23 AM   #6
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Only a month with him but I┤m very happy with my Xi. great car!.
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Old 05-19-2010, 09:32 AM   #7
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The XI will hold its own in the snow. It is a much simplified system compared to others (Subaru, audi, etc) BUT it gets the job done and in the end that is all that matters.

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Old 05-19-2010, 09:36 AM   #8
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A few things I have heard about the Audi is that the cost of maintenance is more steep and takes more work to fix simple problems.
Go XI I have been so pleased with the AWD and I have put it through the tests and she hasn't let me down yet.

My 330xi
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Old 05-19-2010, 09:57 AM   #9
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Having driven both Audi and my XI extensively in the snow, the Audi is the hands down winner. The AWD system is far superior in the Audi. That said the XI still performs admirably in the snow (I have snow tires). Been in a few blizzards doing a comfortable and safe 35mph while other cars plotted along @ 20mph.

On dry land the E46 has a nice balance and I see the potential for great handling is there, but it's somewhat hampered by the stock suspension. I'm willing to bet that h&r springs with bilstein shocks will truly make the car shine and drive how it should have came from the factory.

Honestly maintenance is probably even on both cars.. Bought my XI a little under a year ago and had the owner fix a CV boot and a power steering hose. Since then I had to replace the other CV boot, idler & tensioner pulleys and while doing the CV Boot the bolt that goes into the steering knuckle broke due to rust and that was a whole 'nother cost to fix.

I bought the car with 55k and it has 65k now, so even with low miles it can exhibit issues. And within the next 10k miles I will need to re-do the entire cooling system and water pump as a preventative measure.

So to sum it up, buy the car you like better from test drives, maintenance is going to be about equal.
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Old 05-19-2010, 09:59 AM   #10
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I've had my 04 since new and it's been awesome in the snow. Get snows if you plan to keep it a while, the difference is significant. I would strongly recommend the manual and know of a lovely 04 with 115k that could be available...
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Old 05-19-2010, 10:20 AM   #11
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Old 05-19-2010, 10:40 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by kem View Post
Having driven both Audi and my XI extensively in the snow, the Audi is the hands down winner. The AWD system is far superior in the Audi.
Can you give me the exact situation where you think the Audi is better in the snow? I've driven Audi's AWD system extensively as well and I prefer the BMW because it's a very predictable AWD system. You never get surprised with where the power has suddenly shifted to like on an Audi AWD.

I will give you 2 situations of xi vs. quattro:

1) Starting from a standstill on a snowy hill the BMW hesitates for about 1/2 a second and then just takes off. Audi doesn't hesitate much at all (Subaru hesitates zero).

2) Snow covered highway- You know the situation where you are on two-lane highway in the snow and only the right lane has been plowed? You come up on a truck that's only doing 65mph and you want by, right? BMW hands down in this situation. Audi's have a tendency to get squirrelly when switching back to the right lane after the pass with the right wheels on pavement and the left wheels on snow. OP lives in VT, he knows what i'm talking about.

IMO, quattro is better at slow speeds, xi is better for owning the highway in the winter.
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Old 05-19-2010, 10:50 AM   #13
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Torsen awd is by far the best AWD system I've driven on slippery surfaces. XI's "get the job done" as posted above, but by comparison it's weak. There are plenty of people here who will tell you how terrible audi's are, but in my experience they are about the same in terms maintenance as an e46 (I've owned three quattros). Personally, I'd replace my XI with a 2.0t a4 avant in a heartbeat.
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Old 05-19-2010, 11:00 AM   #14
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I think you will find the xi to be very similar to your 03 325i until you hit the snow...if you like BMW then stick with it; esp if you are familiar with maintenance/ DIY etc. The xi makes front end work a little harder to get to and more expensive as parts are different (obviously) but look for obvious stuff like axles clicking/ torn boots/ blown ball joints.

I have general altimax arctic (cheapest snows on tirerack) on my car and havent been able to loose traction yet. Actually only time was backing through an 18" frozen snowbank, took me two tries.

good luck-
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Old 05-19-2010, 11:03 AM   #15
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Great car for winter driving. If you spend time on these forums you will feel the push to drop the suspension. In my case I fixed a rusted and broken rear spring with an Eibach Pro-Kit set. Also regularly inspect your front boots for tears, if you don't catch it soon enough the CV Joint will get dry you will need front axles (which now have a more durable design). Also it's a good idea to drain and refill the front and rear diffs (RedLine 75W90 in both) and the transfer case (RedLine D4 ATF) otherwise the powertrain is robust.
XI never have subframe failure.
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Old 05-19-2010, 11:04 AM   #16
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Sure the XI is a little heavier and a little higher off the ground, but that's not what matters when you put yourself or your son in the car on bad roads. I use the stock rims with Bridgestone Blizzak snow tires on my 325xi. I've been in some pretty slippery situations, but as long as you drive smart, the car will step in and help before anything can go wrong.
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Old 05-19-2010, 11:15 AM   #17
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Go with the Xi, I had my car for two years first we really didn't have a winter to actually test the AWD. This past winter we have a few good storms, the first storm I still had my summer tires (BF Goodrich G sport KDW) on, the slid alot but the AWD and DCS really held it from it accident. After that experience, I installed snow tires and she ran thru every snow storm like a champ. I couldn't even make the car slide when I tired.

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Old 05-19-2010, 11:55 AM   #18
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Basically, RWDers on this site get jealous of xi's and spew bad info/negativity about the xi all over the place and a bunch of xi guys eat it like candy. Not one person on here has had issues in the snow with their xi- -what more do you need?

Last edited by Kubica; 05-19-2010 at 05:37 PM.
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Old 05-20-2010, 09:40 AM   #19
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The E46 AWD system is basic but keeps a nice rear-drive bias. I have my summer tires on now and its more fun to drive than my moms '05 sport package 330cic.

I ran 4th gen Blizzaks in the winter this year and it was amazing. We had a freak snow storm in april this year people we're getting stuck everywhere and I just drove casually through it.

Even with all-seasons there is plenty of grip. I've never been stuck.
~ '02 330xi
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Old 05-21-2010, 04:57 AM   #20
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I love my xi. During my brief stay in Indiana we had several storms where the roads were literally iced over to a depth of around .5" (the city of Terre Haute does not own any snow plows) and even on all-season tires I was able to drive around ~10mph faster than others with a minimum of slippage while some cars couldn't even stop for lights.

Here in Utah where winter lasts from early October to late April, my little xi handles the snow like a champ.
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