Until the F31-generation 3-Series Touring arrives and shows us what rooflines were meant to be, the 3-Series sedan does a fine job of showing us what a luxury car ought to be.
BMW is still benefiting from its long cultivation of the 3-Series brand. You can have at least this much horsepower and at least this much equipment for substantially less money in just about any 3-Series rival. Yet the 3-Series remains the more desirable car.
It still handles wonderfully. Of course there’s not the delicacy you’d enjoy in a 2002tii – get over it. And no, it doesn’t steer like an E30 M3. Neither do any of the 328i’s competitors.
Apparently, most buyers don’t care about the 3er’s dynamic decline, nor do they appear concerned about its expense. We want a mix of power and efficiency, a blend of luxury and lightness, a union between handling priorities and ride quality. The 328i provides the right brew, and does so while looking better than it has since 1991.
As for the advancement of the breed, the 328i now has as much horsepower as the E36 M3 of 1998. In fact, the 328i now has 8% more torque than that car and only weighs 9% more. The EPA city fuel economy rating has improved 35%, the highway figure is 27% better. The state of the modern sport sedan ain’t so bad after all.
Engine: 240 horsepower; 255 lb-ft of torque from a turbocharged 2.0L four-cylinder
Base USD/CAD Price: $36,500 / $39,990
City Fuel Economy: 22-23 miles per gallon
It’s Not Perfect: If the market determines whether an item is priced appropriately, the 328i is perfectly priced. But to those of us who didn’t pay the price, the 328i is the most expensive car of its kind with the most expensive options.
Sales Stats: The overall 3-Series range is America’s best-selling premium vehicle line; Canada’s too. Its best-selling competition, the Mercedes-Benz C-Class, is selling better than it has in years, however.
Viable Alternatives: The Audi S4 is quick. The Volvo S60 is comfortable. There’s a new Lexus IS on the way. The list goes on.