12 MONTH CAR REVIEWS: 2012 BMW 328i - Closing Arguments

By Ben Timmins - February 1, 2013
2012 BMW 328i Front Right Side View
Long-Term 2012 BMW 3-Series Update - WINTER 2013 (2 OF 2)
Miles to Date: 28,289
"[The engine] really does feel like it belongs in a BMW."
Our BMW 328i Luxury returns to the manufacturer in just a few days. If you thought that its impending departure and an "absence makes the heart grow fonder" attitude would cause our final logbook updates to be saccharine, you'd be wrong: the BMW's strengths and weaknesses were as clear as ever during the past month.
It probably didn't help that the temperatures bounced from "wow, it's cold" to "uncovered extremities may fall off." We weren't happy about the single-digit (and occasionally sub-zero) thermometer readings, but the 328i's N20 turbocharged four-cylinder engine liked it even less. "I fired up the 328i this morning, and it sounded like the car was wearing an i and not a d on the back," wrote associate web editor Evan McCausland. "The turbo four is clattery and cantankerous when starting in extreme cold." It's enough to make us wonder what the forthcoming 3-series diesel will sound like in similar conditions.
2012 BMW 328i Front Right Side View
But once the car (and the heated seats, and the automatic climate control) warmed up, it performed well. "It may not make the sweet noises of a BMW I-6, but this engine is still one of the best-sounding turbo fours on the market," associate web editor Donny Nordlicht declared. "It has plenty of power, too. It's fun to wring out and to drive hard.
"It really does feel like it came from BMW," he added. "It feels like it belongs in a BMW."
While the engine was a good choice, the transmission -probably wasn't. We've been grumbling for months that the clutch pedal has too much travel and the gearstick throws are has too long. By the end of the test, many of us felt that skipping the third pedal -- something we don't often recommend -- would have been a better option. "This manual transmission is a great piece of evidence in the case against having a manual just for the sake of having three pedals," wrote senior web editor Phil Floraday. "It's just not much fun to row these gears." Nordlicht also observed that "the center console clearly wasn't designed for a manual transmission, because you will knock into anything in the cupholders when you shift into gears one, three, or five. Also, reverse is either too easy to engage or nearly impossible."
2012 BMW 328i Dash
So, perhaps the perfect 3-series is a 328i with the eight-speed automatic transmission. Or perhaps it's not a 3-series at all. "Remember," wrote Nordlicht, "for roughly 10 grand less than our 328i, you can get an X1 with the same content and the driving dynamics we've known and loved about BMWs. Ten grand. Sit with that thought for a minute." He also noted that, for the money, it's difficult to make a case of driving dynamics over cars like the Mercedes-Benz C-Class or the Volvo S60.
So, why buy one at all? Well, most of us agree that the 3-series (despite our nitpicking) is a better all-around performer than ever before -- a luxury sedan with good looks, a very good engine, and a great brand name. That's a good thing for BMW, but for those of us who have lauded the 3-series for its unfailing dynamic prowess, this 328i leaves something to be desired. "This is among the most sensible 3-series I've ever driven," wrote Floraday, but he added, "that might be why it's not so endearing to me."
Body style 4-door sedan
Accomodation 5-passenger
Construction Steel unibody
Engine Turbocharged 16-valve DOHC I-4
Displacement 2.0 liters (122 cu in)
Power 240 hp @ 5000 rpm
Torque 255 lb-ft @ 1250 rpm
Transmission type 6-speed manual
Drive Rear-wheel
EPA Fuel Economy 23/34/27 (city/hwy/combined)
Steering Electrically-assisted rack and pinion
Lock-to-lock 2.7 turns
Turning circle 37.1 ft
Suspension, front Strut-type, coil springs
Suspension, rear Multilink, coil springs
Brakes F/R Vented discs
Wheels 18-inch aluminum alloy
Tires Goodyear EfficientGrip runflat tires
Tire Size 225/45VR-18
Headroom f/r 40.3/37.7 in
Legroom f/r 42.0/35.1 in
Shoulder room f/r 55.1/55.1 in
Wheelbase 110.6 in
Track f/r 60.3/61.9 in
L x W x H 182.5 x 71.3 x 56.3 in
Passenger capacity 84.2 cu ft
Cargo capacity 17.0 cu ft
Weight 3406 lb
Weight dist. f/r 49.5/50.5%
Fuel capacity 15.8 gal
Est. fuel range 355 miles
Fuel grade 91 octane (premium unleaded)
Standard Equipment 6-speed manual transmission Driving Dynamics control w/ECO, PRO, Comfort, and Sport settings Stability and traction control Dynamic Brake Control (DBC) and Cornering Brake Control (CBC) Brake fade compensation and brake drying Tire pressure monitoring system Start-off assistance Halogen headlights and fog lights 3-spoke multifunction steering wheel Bluetooth iDrive system w/6.5-inch color display Automatic climate control Rain-sensing windshield wipers Automatic headlights AM/FM/CD/MP3 audio system w/HD radio iPod and USB adapter Adaptive brake lights 17-inch aluminum wheels w/all-season tires
Luxury line $2,100 Sports leather steering wheel 18-inch aluminum wheels Anthracite wood trim Pearl highlight trim finishers
Premium Package $3,600 Universal garage-door opener Keyless entry Moonroof Auto-dimming mirrors Power front seats w/lumbar support
Technology package $2,550 Navigation system Head-up display
Parking Package $1,550 Rear-view camera Parking distance control Side- and top-view cameras
Premium Sound Package $950 Satellite radio w/1-year subscription Harman/Kardon surround sound system
Xenon headlights $900
Heated front seats $550
Split folding rear seat $475
Black Sapphire metallic paint $550
BMW Assist w/enhanced BT and USB$650
BMW Apps$250

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

WINTER 2013
2012 BMW 328i - Closing Arguments
WRAP-UP
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Comments

Photo Gallery

  • The BMW 328i shows off its snazzy winter wheels.
  • The BMW 328's combination of black paint and silver wheels is classically handsome.
  • We tracked our fair share of dirt inside, too, so we gave the BMW a vacuum.
  • Leave it to the 328i to make car care look glamorous.
  • The black paintjob shows dirt easily, so we wash the BMW often.
  • Mainstream car wash, mainstream sport/luxury sedan.
  • The 328i's interior is more exciting to look at than ever.
  • The BMW's steering isn't very good, but the steering wheel is pretty great.
  • We loved iDrive; we didn't love the six-speed stick.
  • The seats look good enough, but they're nearly flat and make shifting difficult.
  • There's not much space back here.
  • The heart of the beast: a 2.0-liter turbocharged I-4.

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