With a tear in my eye, I made my way to the dealership to pick up my brand spanking new 2006 E90 BMW 330i auto. These were not tears of joy. I was giving up my baby, my E46 328i. I had enjoyed miles of smiles with her, my "Silver Bullet", as my sister had affectionately named her. Then I walked onto the showroom floor, and there she was in all her splendour, shiny black, with a bottle of wine and a bunch of flowers in the open boot. At 417k after including the sport pack, she didn’t come cheap, and at that price they should have thrown in a gold watch! LOL. Anyhow, I was now struggling to hold on to those sombre emotions I was feeling just a minute ago about letting go of my Silver Bullet. And then, when I got behind the wheel, I was like … 328??? Silver who??The difference in power was intoxicating! I had jumped from 144kW in my 328 to 191kW in the 330 - so you can just imagine. I floored it at every opportunity. The feel, the sound, watching the rev counter climb to 7 000 r/min…Ooooh, I was in love! Even now, three years on, I still get a kick out of it, especially off the line. For an auto, she’s quick. In fact, I discovered that one of our SA magazines who test here on the reef recorded 0-100 km/h, quarter mile as well as in gear acceleration times for the 330 where the auto was actually *faster than the manual. Anyhow, whatever the case, let's just say the manual and auto are very close, which is a big improvement from the e46 auto' box. Fuel consumption? Er, look. It’s a straight six! It aint gonna sip! All you need to know is that it is lighter than the equivalent Merc or Audi. Negatives?Do I really have to? Ok, so there are a few.Runflats! They suck, big time! Lousy ride (on some roads you feel like you could do with a kidney belt), they are hell expensive and when you really need them, lets just say, good luck! After one scary experience with my family on the way back from the coast where I wasn’t able to even ride 10km with a puncture, I decided to part ways with runflats.Other than that, the only real complaint I would have is that I am not so impressed with some of the finishes and interior trim.That being said, all is forgotten when I throw “Blacky”, as I now refer to her, into a corner or floor it off the line with the “party pooper” (traction control) turned off. It is just such a pleasure to own this car!ConclusionAll factors considered, it is brilliant! And in traditional BMW style, it is head and shoulders above its competitors, being naturally aspirated (before the hot blooded hot-hatch brigade with the gel and spikey hairdos start launching missiles at me…you lot relax, keep your nappies on and play with your toys) against small family sedans, like the A4 3.2 or the Merc C280 or even the C350, it is quicker in a straight line or around a track, has better fuel consumption and better driver feedback. What more do you want? Pound for pound and apples with apples in this segment, the 330i is king!I also own an E46 330CI and, truth be told, whenever I reach for the keys (if I can tear Blacky’s keys out of my wife’s hands that is) it is a tough decision between the two, because both are outstanding machines and loads of fun in their own right!Long live the benchmark!Do you have what it takes to write a winning reader road test? Enter our competition and you could win cash or a Garmin GPS!