The BMW 3 Series is the founder and continual benchmark of its segment. With an extensive model lineup designed to suit most any taste, the new 2012 BMW 3 Series represents a quantum leap in terms of performance, luxury, technology, efficiency and safety.
Of the countless accolades earned by the 3 Series since its introduction, one stands as the summation of all the rest: This BMW icon has earned a spot on Car and Driver magazine’s “10Best List” for 21 consecutive years – a feat achieved by no other vehicle. Expect that unprecedented streak to continue for years to come, especially now that the all-new 2012 BMW 3 Series Sedan has broken cover to join the incomparable Coupe, rakish Convertible and versatile Sports Wagon. Here’s a breakdown of the highlights throughout the lineup.
The biggest news for 2012 is the introduction of the all-new 3 Series Sedan (MSRP starting at $34,900), the sixth generation of the original dynamic luxury four-door. Offering rear-drive, xDrive Intelligent All-Wheel Drive (available soon), and models, the 3 Series Sedan line has something for everyone. The 328i Sedan gains a new turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine making a robust 240 hp, output superior to that of its 6-cylinder predecessor. Thanks to the new four-cylinder’s TwinPower Turbo technology, its maximum 255 lb/ft of torque manifests at a low 1,250 rpm for immediate off-the-line acceleration. In fact, the 328i bolts from zero-to-60 mph in just 5.7 seconds.
The 335i Sedan features a retuned version of the celebrated 3.0-liter turbocharged inline six-cylinder, good for 300 hp and 300 lb/ft of torque. Proving that the 3 Series Sedan remains a pure driver’s car, both models come with a six-speed manual transmission. Unique in this segment, the available automatic transmission boasts eight gears and, depending on trim level, paddleshifters mounted on the steering wheel. BMW EfficientDynamics technology, such as Brake Energy Regeneration and Auto Start/Stop, helps ensure that both engines return superior fuel economy compared to last year.
Designers honed the styling of the new 3 Series Sedan, with optimized aerodynamics and intelligent lightweight construction. Despite a moderate increase in length, the new sedan actually offers additional space in the passenger compartment and capacity in the trunk. The roster of standard features also expands to include such items as Bluetooth connectivity, a USB/iPod interface, larger aluminum alloy wheels and Dynamic Driving Control with ECO PRO Mode, which optimizes vehicle systems for maximum fuel economy. Drivers can reduce fuel consumption, depending on model and driving behavior, using ECO PRO Mode.
Three distinct character Lines – Sport, Luxury and Modern– present a bounty of personalization options on the new 3 Series Sedan while the available M Sport Package will satisfy buyers with visions of hot laps around the Nürburgring circuit racing through their heads.
The 3 Series Coupe (MSRP starting at $38,700) continues to offer its signature blend of track-tuned handling, unmistakable styling and premium luxury in three levels of performance. The 328i Coupe features a magnesium/aluminum-block 3.0-liter inline six-cylinder making 230 hp while the 335i Coupe adds TwinPower Turbo technology to raise output from the inline-six to 300 hp. Both models are available with xDrive Intelligent All-Wheel Drive.
The dynamic 335is Coupe puts an even stronger emphasis on performance with, among other things, a power bump to 320 hp, a sport exhaust system, and a boost in top speed to 155 mph (up from 130 mph). While all 3 Series models come standard with a six-speed manual transmission, the seven-speed double-clutch gearbox – complete with steering wheel-mounted paddleshifters - is now a no-cost option on the coupe and convertible.
The 3 Series Convertibles – 328i Convertible, 335i Convertible and 335is Convertible – share the same engine lineup as their coupe siblings. Equipped with a power hardtop that retracts in just 22 seconds, the 3 Series Convertibles (MSRP starting at $47,600), ensuring knife-edge performance even when summer breezes fill the open cockpit. Close the top and the hardtop headliner helps to create a whisper-quiet environment while the variable partition that separates the top’s storage compartment from the trunk can be removed to increase cargo capacity.
The undisputed king of cargo capacity in the 3 Series lineup – the 328i Sports Wagon (MSRP $37,500) – gets its motivation from the 230-hp 3.0-liter inline-six, which returns a thrifty 27 highway mpg despite the boost in interior space. Handling is razor sharp, thanks to the wagon’s optimized weight distribution and standard Dynamic Stability Control. For added assurance no matter the weather, choose the 328i xDrive Sports Wagon model with its Intelligent All-Wheel Drive with a sporty default rear-wheel torque bias.
To make the most of the wagon’s 60.9 cubic feet of maximum storage space, simply lower the split/fold-down load-through rear seats and marvel as the vertical sidewalls and flat cargo floor accommodate loads worthy of a crossover. To ensure that you never make a wrong turn, regardless of your destination, choose the available navigation system, which includes the latest iDrive controller with high-resolution display.
In the words of the editors at Car and Driver, the venerable 3 Series simply “roasts the competition.” Come in and enjoy the warmth by contacting us to schedule a test drive of the new 2012 BMW 3 Series.