Slightly confusingly, both the new 325i and the 330i have the same 3.0-liter inline-six. The 325i has retuned software and a different exhaust and intake system, lowering power and torque from 255 hp and 220 lb-ft to 215 and 185: the 325i would need only ten more horses to fill the previous 330i's stable. In both forms, the engine has a great note. While we favor the more powerful of the two, $7,000 knocked off the price is hard to argue against. Buying a base 325i and spending one to two thousand dollars in the aftermarket could result in a $32,000 330i, although warranties might vanish in the process. The change to the larger engine strengthens the connection between the two 3-series levels. The 325i sounds and feels more like the stronger 330, and low-end torque is greatly improved over the previous generation. Near-perfect six-speed automatic and manual transmissions transfer power to the rear wheels.
BMW is now offering Bluetooth connectivity in 3-series models as part of a $2,900 premium package. When used in collaboration with a compatible mobile phone, the system allows owners to use their phones through steering wheel-mounted buttons. The stereo head unit logs all incoming, outgoing, and missed calls, and sound from the phone enters the cabin through the front left speaker, allowing completely hands-free cell phone operation. Our only gripe is that we could not access our phone book through the head unit, despite the manual's insistence that such a feature exists.
With a base price of just over $30K, the 325i is a great deal. While the modest 215-hp six-cylinder won't beat an equally priced Infiniti G35 in raw performance, it is a much more elegant car to drive, with more subtle, polished responses. This 3-series is bigger than the outgoing car, too, and continues to deliver the best driving experience in its class, especially when the road starts curving.