However, a few cars are nipping closely at the tail of the 3 Series and on occasion even swooping by, in one category or another.
We recently had a refresher drive in the basic 328i Coupe with six-speed manual transmission.? With its low stance, sculptured lines and long hood, the 3 Series coupe has a classic styling.
The four-passenger interior is simple and business like with a solid aluminum or wood panel crossing the dash at the beltline and encompassing the climate vents.? The audio system and climate controls are mounted lower than we would like on the center stack making it necessary for the driver to look down to make changes.? That distraction is compounded further by the complexity of the audio system.? Standard seating in the base model is a leatherette material that is so good, it is often difficult to distinguish from real leather.
The 328i Coupe has a standard 230-hp, 3.0-liter inline six-cylinder engine that accelerates from 0 to 60 mph in 6.2 seconds.? Fuel economy is rated at 18 mpg city and 28 mpg, highway.? We averaged 25.5 mpg during our week of mostly highway driving.? The upper level 335i, has the same basic 3.0-liter engine, but with twin turbochargers that increase the horsepower to 300, and cut the 0 to 60 acceleration to a mere 5.3 seconds with only a small difference in fuel economy (17/26 mpg). ?The Getrag six-speed manual transmission is as smooth and precise as any manual transmission we have driven, and from previous test drives, we like the six-speed automatic equally as well.
For years, BMW has claimed to be the ?Ultimate Driving Machine? and it continues to earn that tagline by producing cars like the 3 Series.? The combination of rear drive and perfect 50/50 front/rear weight distribution combined produce outstanding handling even in base models like the 328i.? We did notice some lateral movement on roads grooved from studded snow tires.? This car seemed to be more affected by the roads than others we?ve driven recently.
The ride quality is stiff but not uncomfortable.? We did appreciate the solid brake pedal and the direct feel of the steering.
The BMW 3 Series is available in a full spectrum of models including coupe, sedan, convertible and wagon, plus there is the legendary M3 and a diesel powered sedan.? All the models, but the convertible and M3, are also available in all-wheel drive, making it a great car for the northern climates.
Pricing starts at $34,025, including the destination charge for the 328 sedan.? Our 328i coupe was priced at $37,075 and included few minor options like metallic paint, Comfort Access keyless entry and start, moonroof and iPod plus a USB adapter. ?The 335i is $8,800 more than the 328i.? For someone wanting the ultimate 3 Series, the M3 convertible pricing can go as high as $83,000 with all the available options.
It?s always important for us to drive a 3 Series from time to time.? It really sets a baseline for us to compare with all the other driving machines.