BMW 330i Not So Premium Interior

bmw-330i-front.jpgThe 2006 BMW 330i has some interior design flaws as noted by the Road Test editors at The editors poined out a number of interior features they disliked but the top 5 were the audio system, cupholders, gauge visibility, interior storage space and the engine start button.As automakers have eliminated qualities that used to make automotive writing fun and exciting (panel gaps you could slip “War and Peace” into, a propensity to explode upon impact), modern complaints don’t seem to be quite so important. I feel less like Edward R. Murrow and more like Geraldo when I start whining about cupholders. But there are some things about our 2006 BMW 330i that really bug me. If I had paid $42,000 for it and knew that a $15,000 Civic bettered it in many ways, I’d be more than a little miffed. So without further ado, here’s a list of my Top Five Sucky Interior Design Features.

1) Fussy audio system. Our 330i and Civic Si have exactly the same capabilities, including a CD/MP3 player, satellite radio and an auxiliary input. One is easy and intuitive to use. The other is not. The BMW’s head unit has too many buttons and menus, too many arcane symbols and too small of a display.

2) Flimsy cupholders. The two main cupholders pop out of the dash on the passenger side. As we noted in a previous post, small plastic bottles tend to rattle around when placed in the holders. Plus, deployed cupholders get in the way of the passenger and seem vulnerable to breakage.

3) Gauge visibility. When I position the seat and steering wheel the way I want, the rim of the steering wheel blocks my view of the top of the speedometer and tachometer displays. How fast was I going, officer? I don’t know because I can’t see the gauge. This isn’t the first BMW vehicle I’ve encountered this problem on, by the way.

4) Lack of interior storage space. The BMW 330i has a shallow center console box, a depression near the shifter and door bins of debatable usefulness. The thick pack of manuals takes up most of the glove box. On a recent long drive, my wife and I were like rats fighting over limited resources when it came time to see who got to store his or her cell phone, MP3 player and snack food.

5) Engine start button. People who don’t have to drive the car are impressed by it. Having to put the fob into dash slot and then make a separate movement to push the starter is just silly. Dude, where’s my key?

Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor,, 18,735 miles