On Monday, I took my beloved 2011 E90 328xi (fitted with a 6-speed manual transmission) in for repair and was given a new 230i (fitted with the 8-speed automatic) as a loaner. Soon after I got moving in it I disabled the "start/stop" technology (this I found troublesome) and then played a bit with the "Driving Experience Control" modes, moving from "eco pro" to "comfort" to "sport" to "sport plus" and finally settling on "sport." I thought the automatic would affect the car's drivability. It didn't. Over the next three days, whether commuting in heavy traffic or running errands on empty roads, I loved everything about it. The exhaust note. The handling. The effortless power. How I felt as though BMW had me in mind specifically as the driver when they designed and engineered it.
Alas, once I was back in my E90 it felt, in comparison, large, slow, loud, and clumsy—much more akin to a tank from the World War II era than a world-class sports sedan. I have to admit that on the drive home I was missing that 230i horribly and hoping my E90 wouldn't get jealous. A full day later, I think I still am. The guilt!
Anyway, I can't think of a better way to describe how the 230i performs. It's a great car. But please don't say anything to my E90.