The benchmark sport sedan.
The BMW 3-series has epitomized the sport sedan for about as long as the genre has existed. It’s unlikely that another car has been benchmarked as often — and no wonder. The 3-series, in any of its many iterations, is extraordinarily entertaining to drive. Its firm, sporty chassis marries exhilarating handling and a supple ride. Now there is a new-generation 3-series, and it faithfully upholds the family tradition. The redesigned, sixth-generation 328i and 335i have arrived — in sedan and wagon form. (The previous coupe and convertible continue; they, too, will be replaced during 2013.) The biggest change is in the 328i, where the iconic straight six has been kicked out in favor of a turbo four — as it has elsewhere in the BMW lineup. Although we miss the unique character of the six, the turbo four is actually quicker and provides better fuel economy — up to 34 mpg on the highway. The in-line six, in turbo form, remains under the hood of the 335i sedan. BMW’s slick stick shift is still available, and the optional automatic is now an eight-speed (the two-doors still use a six-speed). At the top of the heap is the M3, a performance legend with a 414-hp V-8 that screams to an 8400-rpm redline. It’s available as a coupe or a convertible. Between the 335i and the M3 lies the 335is, which offers nearly the performance of an M3 yet costs about $9000 less.
new for 2013
The new 3-series sedan arrived in late 2011, and now comes the new wagon, all-wheel drive (for the sedan and wagon), and the first-ever 3-series hybrid, the ActiveHybrid 3. The new 3-series coupe and convertible will make their debut during 2013 and might switch to a new, 4-series designation, the better to justify their price premium.
Front, side, and side curtain air bags (except in the convertible); active head restraints for the front seats; traction and stability control; ABS; and a tire-pressure monitor are standard. Adaptive xenon headlamps are optional on the 328i, standard on the others. BMW Assist with automated crash response is optional (standard on the M3).
Great to drive
Huge variety of models and powertrains
M3 is a superstar
Base models lack equipment
Hybrid fuel economy is not great
Base Price Range: $37,395–$71,345
DRIVE: Rear-wheel, 4-wheel
TRIM LEVELS: 328i, 335i, 335is, ActiveHybrid 3, M3
BODY STYLES: Sedan, coupe, convertible, wagon, 4- or 5-passenger
ENGINES: 2.0L turbo I-4, 240 hp, 255 lb-ft
3.0L I-6, 230 hp, 200 lb-ft
3.0L turbo I-6, 300 hp, 300 lb-ft
3.0L twin-turbo I-6, 320 hp, 332 lb-ft
3.0L turbo I-6/electric hybrid, 335 hp, 332 lb-ft
4.0L V-8, 414 hp, 295 lb-ft
TRANSMISSIONS: 6-speed manual, 6-, 7-, or 8-speed automatic
PASSENGER VOLUME: 84.2–92.0 cu ft
CARGO SPACE: (sedan/coupe/convertible) 17.0/11.1/9.0; (wagon, rear seats down) 35.3 cu ft