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[Updated] Two Gay Indians, One Big Fight

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Two Gay Indians, One Big Fight

And I End up with a little Red Riding Hood!!!

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The little Red Riding Hood!

As many of you know I posed a question about which car to choose from the two wholly different animals – 2009 Chevy Cobalt New and 2005 BMW 330i Used, I promised to follow up with the results. Although, I asked the question two months too late, the answers you gave me did not make me feel regretful for having made the decision.

The Precursor:


I met J and M back in Bombay while finishing my undergraduate school (there you go P-C-S, you now know my origin). They were one of the fewest homosexual couples in India who were open about their relationships with their parents – an act which is considered more than chivalrous in the country. Although I felt there was something more than friendship between them, I did not know the existence of their relationship before we came here to study Masters.

I did not meet them in person while in US, but kept in touch via emails.
J and M were car freaks; more specifically German car freaks. J had a love for BMW's and M had for Mercedes' or Merci's as he would like to call. I supported J for his BMW side when we got in a fight. After graduating with Masters both J and M found jobs in south Florida for a software firm (Indians and software – so original). M bought a CLK 320, while J went with his Bavarian fling and got him a BMW 330i with performance package. Both cars were red. Honestly guys, is red a color of gay men? I am not trying to be mean, I mean BV had and has a red car; Mr. Doane has one and these two guys did too. Sorry if I sound stereotypical and I digress. Back in July 2008, J and M got in a huge fight for a cause unknown. The magnitude was so big that J almost ended up committing suicide, and M went into a depression. The aftershocks continued till J went to India for good in November leaving back his beloved BMW with M. Suddenly M was left with two car payments and a depressed heart. J in the mean while got married to a girl, which I also find intriguing. I have heard people go other way around, how can you go back "straight" in a relatively short time given the amount of time, energy and resources you spent battling your identity in one of the most closed countries in terms of acceptance of homosexuality? Sorry for the digression again.

Enter Chevrolet Cobalt
My fling with NASA (not the space company but the car group) and people in Orlando who race at NASA's events made me want a fun pocket rocket. I seriously started looking for a small car with little or no modifications required making it track ready and yet would be a daily driver if the W-body Chevy Lumina of mine needed to relax her tired knees from the daily grind. More than anything I wanted an American car so that I could spank the blow driers from Japan. Yes, most of the guys for NASA here in Orlando are ricers. So the list shortened down to Caliber SRT, Cobalt SS/SC used or SS/TC new, or Poon-thai-yak Solstice GXP EXCITEMENT!!!!!!!

Caliber kept me away with its boxy design and depressing interior and the test drive left me underwhelming so Dodge lost the battle even before it began. Like many of you guys mentioned in the pseudo-poll it is hard to find non-beaten up SS/SC so that left me to choose from the SS/TC and GXP.
I test drove the GXP next. A fabulous car but can be a little long in the tooth with its cramped space and the lack of vision from General in designing the details shows. The suspensions are on the softer side when taking corners (the issue can be solved by getting the upgraded track suspension, which I did not test drive). The car certainly cannot be used as a daily driver because of lack of proper storage (sorry if I sound like rags). The bill rang into about $29K after all discounts and rebates which was a little on the high side for my budget. I had experienced Cobalt SS/SC twice at GM's Autoshow in Motion events. So impressed I was by its handling and the power it carried that at the second Autoshow I test drove it six times with my left upper arm still in cast after my surgery. But I thought that the roughness of the engine and slight nervousness kept it from being a big hitter in terms of performance. With that data in hand, I took the wheels of the Cobalt SS/TC and boy was I surprised. For one, this car is light years ahead in terms of handling compared to the SS/SC and as Captain Obvious will say the car is a lot faster. The chassis has been pushed to the limits, yet the car knows to push an extra mile or save an extra tenth in time. The tuning is fantastic and the car begs to be driven. It does show that the power comes from the wrong shoes but that limit is very high, possibly no one can feel it in daily driving 99% of the time. The instrumentations are simple and entire car is plebian, but like Car and Driver mentioned efforts were really spent somewhere else.

Alas, as always the dealer started playing dirty chess when he knew I was seriously interested in the car. I find it so ironic, that here we have a car manufacturer who is struggling and these dealership guys still think they are the kings. The game dragged on for about three weeks and I finally took a break from the shopping.


My Previous Affairs with BMWs


My first experience with BMW was with an E46 325i with sports package and automatic at GM's Autoshow in Motion. That car left me underwhelmed. I snide at why rags make this car look like a Goddess. Later I took E90 330i with a stick shift for a test drive at a local dealer, and that one too left me wanting for more. I thought it was a good car but certainly not as good as the rags make it out to be. I then had a chance to test drive the 530i and again the same result. I therefore concluded that BMW's sucked and the company might be paying rags to get themselves look like the Ultimate Driving Machine makers.
Add to that I drove a 2002 Z06 of my marine friend for about 6 months, and that really made me a great Corvette fan and pulled me away from the Bimmers. I still will get me a 2003 Z06 – 50th anniversary someday. Enter 2005 BMW 330i – ZHP Performance Package Here is an excerpt from Car and Driver about how ZHP is different from the bread and butter 330i.

Cosmetic elements include a so-called aerodynamic package (deeper air-dam and rocker-panel extensions), Alcantara faux-suede seats and steering-wheel cover, black-anodized interior aluminum trim, and gauges with red needles. Reduced to verbiage, it sounds a little glitzy, but BMW's execution is subdued and tasteful.
In any case, it's the go-faster bits that set this enhanced Bimmer apart from the rest of the 330i establishment. The list includes reprogrammed engine management, hotter cams, a six-speed manual gearbox (a first for a non-M 3-series BMW), and a shorter final-drive ratio—3.07:1 versus the 2.93:1 rear end used in the base 330i with manual transmission.
The suspension components are a smidge stiffer than the setup in the base 330i, and the Performance package gets an 18-inch wheel-and-tire combo versus 17-inch wheels on the standard version. The package also substitutes Michelin Pilot Sport tires for the Continental ContiSportContacts that come in the Sport package, with a slightly lower profile and slightly bigger rear footprints: 225/40ZR-18 front and 255/35ZR-18 rear compared with the Sport's 225/45ZR-17 front and 245/40ZR-17 rear.

The engine tweaks don't add up to much—the redline goes up 300 rpm to 6800, peak horsepower goes up 10 to 235, and torque goes up eight pound-feet to 222. But a little more thrust and shorter gearing do pay off at the track. Our Performance-package 330i sprinted to 60 mph in 5.6 seconds and covered the quarter-mile in 14.3 seconds at 97 mph.


The Drive in the Bimmer

In middle of January, I called J and was surprised to hear M answer the phone. We went on to talk about what had happened to their relationship. Till that point of time I had no idea about the saga. He then went on to tell me about the BMW and that he wanted to get rid of it for almost two months. I told him that I will look at it but cannot promise him anything since I had reservations for BMWs, moreover I wanted to spend some time with him and see if he was doing okay.
Like all of you guys mentioned, I started looking at the plusses and minuses of the BMW through numbers, and like Z28 mentioned especially the flashiness of owning one. Plus the previous experience had really left me no taste if not a bad taste about BMWs. The weekend when I was supposed to see M, my girl decided to fly in impromptu from Michigan to see me. So we both fired up my 3.1L pushrod and headed south. Little did I know we would be driving separately on our way back. The BMW was bought in January 2005 towards the fag end of E46 production. The model had worked out most of the kinks, and was considered to be highly reliable by JD Powers's survey. The guys bought extended warranty through BMW which put the free oil change and mechanical parts change including the clutch and brakes to72 months/100,000 miles as they were planning to keep it for a while. The only options they included were the upgraded Harman-Kardon stereo and leather seats with memory. M gave me the keys to the Little Red Riding Hood (as my girl calls her) and asked me go in her and put as many miles as I felt like.

The first thing I noticed was how simple the car was and how spectacular both of them had kept her. The interior still has a new car smell to it (may be they sprayed it regularly with the perfume). J had taken a fabulous care of the machine. The tires were brand new, and there were no dings or blemishes on the vehicle. Honestly, the car was worthy of being kept in a showroom. I fired her up and pushed on. The car was a little underwhelming and reminded me of the previous experiences but I could tell she had a little more power to her boot and the rear wheels were on the eager side. And then we came in at some twisties where I really gunned her. And man I was impressed. From that point on I pushed her around and every time I found a higher threshold for the car while taking the corners. The clutch action was long, but the gear throws were just right and the steering was spot on. I came back smiling. The car had given some redemption for her performance and BMW had found new respect in my books.


M then told me that the clutch need not be depressed completely to engage the gears and that I should go again and try it that way. So I went back again on the road and used the technique, and the underwhelming car suddenly turned a playful monster. Now it felt like the car was saddled with both precision scalpel of a surgeon and an AK-56 of a Russian SEAL. She was Jekyl and Hyde. The confidence in gear changing made me concentrate on the steering, and it really became clear about how accurate the steering of BMW is. It is like point and shoot with no dead points other than the center. Point the car in the corner and she will dive in, point her to a fast lane change and she will do it. There are no technologies involved other than all forgiving stability control with a threshold as tall as Mount Everest.
Finally came the last barrier which I hoped would keep me away from her – the price. M told me to take over the remaining car's loan, which was about $4K lower than the blue book value of a similar car under pre-owned condition. BMW offers the 72/100,000 miles warranty but the buyer has to pay more for the unlimited oil change, if he/she wishes. I was still fiddling and feeling that I was creating a homicide by abandoning the General and getting the Bimmer. That is when the girl intervened and said buy the "Damn Car" you will not get any better deal than that and if you want a GM car, we will get one soon again, and besides that she asked what friends are for. As much as I consider myself to be emotionless, I had lost the battle. We signed the paperwork, I made some phone calls and then went out with M for dinner. Indians say that woman of the house is the keeper of wealth and whenever something good is done, the first experience of that good should be hers. I handed over the keys to the girl and asked her to drive the new one back to Orlando as I fired up the pushrod 3.1L again.

The Weird Comparison


Thus comes to conclusion my weird comparison. As Camino said, there is absolutely no reason to cross-shop the two vehicles. And if the Chevy dealer would have gone through, the BMW would have never appeared in the picture. Maybe it was destiny, maybe I have a little love for BMW in my heart's darkest corner that I ended up with the 330i, and I will never know the answer.

Cobalt's plus points are many. It is a great track machine. GM has done a great job with it. Frankly I do not care how it looks, or how less luxurious it is, or how hard the interior plastic feels. It has great mechanical heart and feet of a cheetah and those are the qualities that matter the most to me. Someday I will like to own it and it will be pretty soon. What Cobalt really lacks is the extra cog in the transmission. The sixth gear will not only help to spread the gear ratios apart but also help in increasing the fuel economy of the vehicle by a mile or two. If you look at the interior of both vehicles, they are identical in the respect that they are so simple and have less electronics. Easy instrumentation, great visibility, and fantastic road manners are their virtues. I personally will compare those two vehicles in one breath now that I have driven both of them and that they are almost identical in size with BMW being slightly larger. To add more credibility to Cobalt is the fact that it mauled the 135i – a car much faster than the 330i – at the Virginia Raceway when Car and Driver Track-tested them at the same time. I think BMW went overboard with the 135i. Cobalt is definitely faster than the E46 330i and makes a diligent effort to hide its FWD manners.

BMW 330i has the most comfortable seats I have ever sat in. They are firm yet have cushions enough to relax you. Recaros in 350Z and G35 feel second grade compared to the BMW seats. The Harmon-Kardon stereo is sonorous. The sound quality is very clean and radio antenna's reception is pretty strong. I was also surprised by how powerful the AC is. As we know GM makes the best AC, this car comes pretty close in that respect. I would not pay $40,000 for a car with such laconic feature list, but at the price of less than three-quarters of that the car would make sense.
The rear wheel drive definitely shows, plus the fatter tires make the car more corner friendly than the Chevy. It is a fact that I later confirmed. One of the entrance ramps at 528-expressway is a clover leaf, with a posted "yellow sign" speed limit of 35mph. It is standard to design the embankment for a speed of few mph higher than recommended depending on the road's importance to help the emergency vehicles navigate the road. When I took the Cobalt for the test drive I did 62 mph on the ramp before I could feel the front give in and hear the squeal of the tires. I have put the Bimmer up to 68 mph and am yet to hear the squeals other than the heart squealing to stop.

The ZHP package suspensions and steering ratios are different compared to the sports package and the M3. As a matter of fact some of the E46 M3 owners have put the steering of a ZHP on their M3, which shows the prowess of the steering. It is sad that BMW 3 series gets labeled as car for Suzy McMansion as it deserves better, just as how Chevy Tahoe gets slammed for Gas Hog Mommy Mobile. Both vehicles are being used for something which they are not meant to be used for in the first place.
To sum it up, Cobalt and 330i ZHP are both playful puppies, with each having its own strengths and weaknesses but with a high endurance and desire. They love to be played with and love to please their owners. While Cobalt is like an Alsatian, at the end of the day she will stop when owner demands slightly more than her limitations, BMW is like a Labrador, always ready to give more than she can. And I love Labradors more than the Alsatians. Thanks for reading such a long post and for giving your honest opinions. I think I do not regret my decision. Stay tuned for my 2,000 mile experience with the car.


2005 BMW 330i. ZHP Performance 59,443 miles as of now. (Bought at 57,510 miles).

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Nice ride!

Now get some clears on that thing, stat!

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Congrats, I love those rims. Looks like a sweet car, good luck with her.

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Nice ride!

Now get some clears on that thing, stat!

Will do. BavAuto.com?

Congrats, I love those rims. Looks like a sweet car, good luck with her.

Thanks gm4life.

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Will do. BavAuto.com?

Thanks gm4life.

No problem do a nice long burn-out with that sweet high winding I6 and RWD for me please! :AH-HA_wink:

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Will do. BavAuto.com?

I've always preferred eurosportdesign.com or ddmtuning.com, but bavauto works as well I suppose.

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I've always preferred eurosportdesign.com or ddmtuning.com, but bavauto works as well I suppose.

What car do you have?

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Congrats man! This generation is probably my favorite BMW. Wheels look great too!

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That must be a real blast to drive. Nice pick. 8)

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What car do you have?

E39 540 6-speed...the one in the sig...well, now without the bumper unfortunately.

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Congrats! Is it CPO? Mooch off as much of the warranty as possible. Be anal with every little fault. :lol:

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Congrats! Is it CPO? Mooch off as much of the warranty as possible. Be anal with every little fault. :lol:

YESSSSS. It has the "extended" warranty to 72months/100,000 miles including the free maintenance which was transferable. I will give the details when I go home.

Are you from/living in FL?

Yep. The Sunshine State.

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Only thing I never cared for was the black plastic rubs trips and inserts. I know Saab did this too with their models up until recently.

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Yep. The Sunshine State.

Cool! I have family near Ft Lauderdale.

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Another defector.

Soon we will call this site GMW's biggest fans. One letter change at a time?

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Another defector.

Soon we will call this site GMW's biggest fans. One letter change at a time?

:D

Thanks man!

Hey my second vehicle is a GM and I still own it. :P

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Sharp car.. I miss my E36 M3 sometimes. I'll probably have another BMW someday.

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Cool! I have family near Ft Lauderdale.

So you now know you have another destination to add when you come to visit them.

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128848260294667755.jpg

j/k. :lol:

Nice whip.

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Nice one, small!
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So let's see where the score is...

BMW > Cobalt > Rock > Millenia.

:P

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So let's see where the score is...

BMW > Cobalt > Rock > Millenia.

:P

:lol:

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So let's see where the score is...

BMW > Cobalt > Rock > Millenia.

:P

Where does Pingas work into this?

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