BMW's 3 Series Reviews and Specification

BMW's 3 Series Reviews and Specification

BMW's 3 Series cars are among the sportiest in their class, and also the most laden with leading-edge technology, which presents advantages and disadvantages.The 3 Series sedan and wagon are the most practical.The coupe is the sportiest, and the convertible, the most hedonistic.All remain class benchmarks for overall performance.Retail prices rise quickly and substantially from the bottom of the 3 Series line, and we'd guess that most buyers will find the least expensive models as useful and enjoyable as the most expensive


Model LineupEvery car in BMW's 3 Series is a fine performer and a technological tour de force.Driving has never been much better, or at least not with seating for four or five, decent mileage and a high level of comfort. The 3 Series offers rear-wheel drive and manual transmissions in a class increasingly filled with front-wheel drive and automatics.Nearly equal front/rear weight distribution leaves the driver in full command of where the car goes when, with a nicely tuned stability control system to keep watch should a driver venture beyond his or her capabilities. The 3 Series suspension layout is borrowed from the larger 5 Series sedan, with double-joint aluminum control arms in front and a five-link fully independent system in the rear.This is trick stuff, but it's nothing compared to the electronics that manage everything.If something is amiss, BMW's Dynamic Stability Control system senses that a particular wheel is losing traction, then applies the brake at that wheel or reduces engine power in an effort to keep the car going in the intended direction.On 3 Series models with Active Steering, the DSC can also help drive the car by making fairly significant steering corrections without driver input, or even driver awareness. For many drivers in limited circumstances, this automatic steering adjustment could prove valuable, but the Active Steering has annoying drawbacks.It seems to be working all the time, as if it's hoping to guess what a driver wants and deliver it almost before the driver asks.The steering wheel can move ever so slightly in the driver's hands, without regard to any driver input.We found this unsettling at high speed on arrow-straight interstates, and on twisty, two-lane back roads.What's best about this twin-turbocharged version of the straight six is its linear quality, or the steady supply of acceleration-producing torque at any speed.So-called turbo lag, or a slowed response to the gas pedal as the turbos start spinning, is almost nonexistent.There's more torque down low than ever, but the turbo engine pulls like a sprinter all the way to its 6800-rpm redline and never misses a step.It also sounds great from inside the car, with an emphasis on clean mechanical noise from the engine bay rather than the tone of the muffler. We prefer the manual transmission, even though it isn't perfect, mostly because it allows the driver to more thoroughly exploit the goodness in the 3 Series engines.Clutch-pedal effort makes taking off easy, without having to think about it, and the gear ratios are perfectly spaced for either the base or turbocharged engine

BMW's 3 Series Price List
BMW 328i sedan ($32,700); 328i wagon ($34,500); 328xi sedan ($34,600); 328i coupe ($35,600); 328xi wagon ($36,400); 328xi coupe ($37,400); 335i sedan ($39,300); 335xi sedan ($41,200); 335i coupe ($41,200); 335xi coupe ($43,000); 328i Convertible ($43,500); 335i Convertible ($49,500

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