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1301 2012 Bmw 328i January Update
four seasons long-term tests

2012 BMW 328i - Closing Arguments

Miles to Date: 28,289

Patrick M Hoey
WINTER
2012 BMW 3-Series reviews to date
[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.

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."

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."

2012 BMW 3-Series Specs
  • Overview
  • powertrain
  • chassis
  • measurements
  • equipment
  • options
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
Packages & Options
  • 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
mr_president_36117
I can't wait until you old school auto journalists retire.   You know, just like most people have retired from rowing gears.  I own this car with the sport auto, Sportline.  There is nothing bad that you can say about the auto.  There is usually too much traffic for most Americans to want to deal with a manual everyday.  Back in the 60's, 70's, etc maybe this didn't bother you guys because autos were bad and usually only 4 to 5 gears.  I don't want to manually shift 6-8 gears all day!  My paddle shifters work just great.  Maybe if I had an M3 I'd consider a manual, but no, the DCT in the M cars is awesome and much faster at shifting.  The third pedal is all but dead in the US unless you want a crappy Mustang.  GET OVER IT!
BedfordNH
@mr_president_36117 Having an attitude like that does not help your argument one bit.  You do realize that the article is suggesting that the auto trans might actually be a better choice for this car???On the one hand, the various forms of automatic transmissions available now are smooth, fast-shifting, and often more fuel-efficient than manuals. For everyday cars, the efficiency and comfort is more important. A well-built auto trans will last you the lifetime of the car, with no clutch to wear out.However, a manual transmission-equipped car is becoming a great hidden secret to allow a small (and ever-shrinking) group of people to have some real fun. Owning one is like owning a horse -- you do it because you enjoy it, not because you need it to commute to work every day (you can if you want, but it's a hassle). 
Jhawke
@mr_president_36117 - First of all, cars in the 60s and 70s had THREE speed autos and at BEST four speed manuals. It wasn't until the 80s when four speed autos and five speed manuals became the norm. So get your facts straight. Second, the Mustang kicks your snotty BMW sideways to Sunday on the tracks, where the real balls are shown. So take your paddle-shifting, no-clutch pansy self to the next Tupperware party where you belong and leave the real driving and discussion to the adults, where it belongs.

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