Must-Have Options?

Car Tips | October 13th, 2008 by 20

Buying a new car is a special occasion for anyone. It’s special because you get to pick out what you feel suits your individual needs …

Buying a new car is a special occasion for anyone. It’s special because you get to pick out what you feel suits your individual needs and what you want to say about yourself to those around you, transposing some of your own personality into your vehicle. It’s also special because you’re either giving up a lot of money or signing a contract to promise to give up a lot of money for a long time – or both. Either way, it’s a significant day – you get the point.

As we’re all BMW fans here, I’ll skip the question of “what brand do I want to buy and what does it say about me?” and go straight to the fun part of buying a new or even used car: speccing the car out for the options you want.

6 1/2 years ago when I picked up my first BMW it was an E46 sedan in Orient Blue on gray leather with the Premium Package, Sport Package, Xenons, the Harmon Kardon sound system, and a Steptronic transmission( I hadn’t learned to drive stick at that point). I’d debated the exterior color for months going from Sapphire Black to Steel Gray to Orient Blue – I couldn’t decide until finally I realized that of the three colors Orient was the most unique and rare. I picked out all the options and ran through them in my head too many times to count trying to justify each one and how much use I would get out of it or what was a must-have option. Through BMW forums such as I’d picked up that the sports package was a necessity and that the premium package was a good option as well and that Xenons were truly a safety feature rather than a “look-at-me” option. Well, in early May 2002 I fell in love the first time I drove my new E46 off of the lot and it was downhill ever since.

Well, definitely downhill for the options. Three years later and my second go round, I dropped two options and two doors picking up my 2005 325Ci in Silver Gray on gray leather with the Premium and Sport packages, Xenons and the then-new iPod adapter. I’d dropped the Steptronic transmission in favor of the standard transmission as well as dumping the Harmon Kardon system as it didn’t add much to the sound quality besides the subwoofers.

As I toy with the idea now of acquiring a new bimmer, I’ve found I’m down on more options and that really the only ones I can’t live without are the Sports package, Xenons and the iPod adapter. For me, the added bolsters of the seats, suspension and upgraded wheels and tires of the Sports package is a must, I hate the radio and I cannot live without my iPod and Xenons really do help to see better at night. Those are the options I can’t live without if I had to submit an order form right this second.

So I pose the question to you guys: What can’t you live without if you had to do it again, right this second? The all-wheel-drive Xdrive system? Your Nav/iDrive unit? Satellite radio? What suits your life
and you couldn’t do without?

20 responses to “Must-Have Options?”

  1. nidget says:

    Of course, sport package and Xenon. I love the sensor for the wipers and the automatic lights too. The heated seats and the auto-dimming foldable mirrors are a “very nice to have”. I tend to favor the things that add confort when driving over what looks more like gadgets to me (satellite radio, iDrive, bluetooth, tv, …etc).

  2. rhnorb says:

    I’m planning to add new options on my next BMW. First, it has to have the new iDrive, then I’m looking to add night vision, lane departure warning and the ipod connnection.

  3. Horatiu B. says:

    In my case, Sport, Xenon and PDC. Chicago parking situation is terrible and it helps to have the sensors.

  4. Mike D says:

    Living on top of a hill in Illinois where it snows, with a long driveway that slopes down to my garage, I’m partial to all-wheel-drive.

    Sport is a must because of the seats. Premium is a must because of the lumbar support adjustment, the smell of the leather, the garage door opener, and the power folding mirrors (handy in a narrow garage full of too much stuff.)

    Heated seats are a must (again Illinois = cold, icky winter), but I’ve tended not to care about full Cold Weather (though I have it now.) With the heated steering wheel on the ’09s, though, CWP is probably a yes.

    PDC is a must (narrow garage, hard-to-navigate driveway, narrow congested street.) Nav/iDrive are a must for me on the 3 … w/PDC and Nav, you get the graphic PDC display, and it’s better than the audio-only set up. Re: Nav, I’ve had it in several cars, and I’m spoiled by it. That said, portable Nav is a better deal on most cars. On the 3, though, you get so much other stuff w/nav because of the iDrive, it makes sense to me. Can’t wait to see the revised set-up in person.

    Sat. radio and iPod/USB … a must. Don’t know about Logic7 … I’ve never not had it.

    Xenons … a must. I like the way they turn with the steering wheel. They’re great on curvy, country roads at night.

    I like having a 6-speed manual.

  5. beto_L.A. says:

    my 1st bimmer an ’04 E46 sedan 225I all I wanted was the sport package, leather interior, xenon, auto transmission I was the 1st customer @ my bmw center to have the ipod interface installed $600 parts and labor, all worth it!!!…..5 years later I’m doing it again…”09 E90 sedan 328I same as above and I couldn’t live with out the ipod interface…is a must…i would like sat. radio but it gets a bit expensive….
    need money to buy more vinyl records!!!!!

  6. beto_L.A. says:

    sorry for my typo is a E46 325I….

  7. James Olson says:

    My 1st Bimmer which I picked up just a few weeks ago. The only options I ordered that really cost me as the Logic 7 was a free upgrade on the 550i was the Sports Package. I could probably live without the 19″ wheels and the body kit…… No I couldnt :P I ordered the iPod which IMHO is a must, Cold weather package, Comfort Access (could live without but its a nice touch).
    I declined on the Nav as for the price I just cant see myself paying that much for it. The car itself came with tons of standard equipment that blew me away. By the way the new iDrive controls are terrific with all the new buttons for shortcuts.

  8. Gragop says:


    When I got my car I got them to throw it in as part of the negotiations. Best option I have on my car and aside from the engine, gearbox and wheels, it’s the one I use the most.

  9. Lee says:

    Sport package is really the only one I care about. The rest can come or go, depending on the deal. Nav is nice, but I can easily get an aftermarket unit. Sat radio is nice too, but once again… I don’t mind going aftermarket (I was more than happy with my AVIC-Z1 in the M3).

    But I have to have the sport seats. I never have and probably never could own a BMW that didn’t have the little slide-out on the bottom of the seat and side-hugging bolsters.

    If/when they get to the point where the manual gearbox is an optional extra, count me in for that one as well.

  10. Mike D says:

    @James Olson: Comfort Access is funny thing. Seems nice, but not necessary, until you have it. Then, after you have it, you can’t live without it. Our 330 has it.

    I’ve actually caught myself walking out to our X3 (which I don’t drive much), keys in-pocket, grabbing the door handle, and nearly falling over when the door doesn’t unlock after I pull it.

    Comfort Access = great feature, but stupidity-inducing. :)

  11. Howie_In_AZ says:

    Low financing since buying cars is better than renting them; sport package, premium package; manual transmission; iPod adapter or auxillary input jack.

    The navigation system is worthless since you can get a GPS unit for 1/4 of the price. The automatic transmission is useless since it’ll die after 60-100,000 miles (renters need not worry about this as they’ll be ditching their car far before then).

    The moonroof is a toughie — costs a lot to repair but it’s nice to be able to open it and take in some air.

    A mandatory add-on is the Valentine-1 radar detector, ~$400USD, since you know you’ll be speeding, and cops don’t usually let people driving luxury cars off with just a warning.

    As a sidenote, are there any BMWBlog writers that aren’t renters?

  12. gragop says:

    I leased my first two bimmers and bought the second at lease end as I was waaaaaay over my miles so I own mine. As I don’t want to be stuck in that cycle I’ll be buying my next bimmer versus leasing as well. In this economy I’d rather finance than lease anyway

  13. Artmic says:

    The must have’s for me are: Automatic, Red Leather, space Grey color

  14. Bsd107 says:

    I wish I could delete the moonroof from the US E90 but they wouldn’t let me do it….

  15. Joshi says:

    @Bsd107: Yeah, unfortunately not anymore. I remember that being an option a while back. And I also remember how much people were bitching about not having the moonroof standard

  16. Horatiu B. says:

    @gragop: yeah, especially with those crazy 0.9% rates.

  17. Endicott says:

    At the risk of ticking off the purests, I have to say the stock sound system is very good in the E9x. I don’t doubt the premium system sounds better, but in the presence of road noise or, certainly, with the windows open, the stock system is more than adequate.

    Must have the iPod option. I use a USB thumb drive, and it’s a great solution.

    I have the coupe, so I can’t speak to the sport/non-sport suspension, but I passed on the sport package because:
    a. the stock seats are fine; I’m not planning on autocrossing
    b. 17″ wheels have low-enough aspect for New England roads (read: pot-holed); I don’t want 18s

  18. Gragop says:


    I know it’s not superb but I’m happy with the radio in my E46. Who cares what purists say as long as you’re happy with it, right? I’m not an audiophile so mine’s good enough!

  19. Mike D says:

    @Howie_In_AZ: Not a renter … we bought our 330xi and X3.

  20. Hantra says:

    Make sure you listen to the new stock stereo before you decide not to upgrade. I think they’ve made it a lot worse than it was in the E46. Might be worth it this time around.

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