2012 BMW 328i - The Ultimate Sitting Machine?

May 4, 2012
2012 BMW 328i Front Left View
Long-Term 2012 BMW 3-Series Update - SPRING 2012 (2 OF 2)
Mileage to date: 10,626
The BMW 328i has spent three months with us, and by this point we've already driven it across the country, sent it to a racetrack, and made a fair number of trips to the grocery store. In other words, we've already spent hours behind the steering wheel, in the leather seats, pressing buttons and shifting gears. After driving just over 10,000 miles, our editors have contributed their fair share of comments on the BMW's interior.
"Kudos to the Germans for finally instilling some excitement within the cabin," said associate web editor Evan McCausland. "I loved the fit, finish, and feel of both our 5- and 7-series long-term testers, but neither car's interior design really spoke to me. The 3-series' interior is a bit more emotional."
Some credit for this goes to our tester's optional Luxury line trim. The new 3-series is available with three "lines," Luxury, Modern, or Sport, and each comes with an exclusive set of interior colors and materials. Our Luxury line 328i came with Dakota saddle brown leather with exclusive stitching, and anthracite wood trim, giving the interior an interesting blend of blacks and browns, with added strips of silver polished metal on the steering wheel and dash.
But other editors just liked the cabin in general. "I'm a fan of the new asymmetrical center console," said managing editor of digital platforms Jen Misaros. "It gives up nothing in function and ease of use and adds a bit of style and flair to the staid, all-business interior of the previous 3-series."
Once staffers stopped cooing about the tan leather and brown wood, however, one or two problems surfaced.
"Several interior materials look or feel cheaper than the BMW standard," wrote senior editor Eric Tingwall, adding "with the radio off, you can hear the electric power steering motor whirring as you spin the steering wheel." Senior editor Jason Cammisa chided the 328 for a "Little Tikes-quality My First Glovebox Door." While we're not sure the 328's plastics are that cheap, any comparison between a BMW and a Cozy Coupe is worrisome.
Finally, our office seems to be split on the 328's driving position. Road test editor Chris Nelson found it to be more than decent: "the driver's seat is supportive, and the steering column telescopes up to your chest," he wrote. "I love a cabin that is comfortable and lets you have proper driving position, and that's just what the Germans have served up."
Others weren't so convinced. "Chris may find the seating position perfect, but I have been less successful getting completely comfortable," said Misaros. "The long-travel clutch requires that I position the seat pretty far forward, and although the steering wheel adjusts for reach, I'd prefer another inch or so of travel backward so I'm a little further away from the airbag."
Managing editor Amy Skogstrom agreed: "both times I've driven this car, I've struggled to find a good seating position," she wrote. "I find myself having to move the seat closer to the steering wheel than I like in order to be able to fully depress the clutch, so I feel sort of like I'm crammed into the driver's seat."
The 328i's seating position woes might be mostly due to the long-travel clutch, but we'll see if those irksome plastics pose any more problems -- like scarring or scratching -- over the next nine months. Considering our tester's price tag is a hefty $49,870, we'll hope they don't.

Long-Term 2012 BMW 3-Series Reviews to Date:

2012 BMW 328i - The Ultimate Sitting Machine?
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