From £24,800
All-new 3-series with potent 2.0-litre turbo feels as a BMW should, even if it lacks a straight six

Our Verdict

BMW 3 Series

The BMW 3 Series' outstanding performance and handling complete a consummate all-rounder

  • First Drive

    2016 BMW 330e iPerformance Sport review

    Plug-in-hybrid 3 Series shows the benefit of BMW's experience with the i3 and i8.
  • First Drive

    2016 BMW 330e review

    Plug-in hybrid technology for BMW's 3 Series results in the most compelling model for company car drivers yet. But is it still the driver's choice?
22 November 2011

What is it?

The all-new BMW 3-series, tested here powered by a four cylinder, 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine.

What’s it like?

It’s good-looking car, for starters. Outside and in, with a return to the 'driver-centred' cabin, clean aesthetics and wonderful fit and finish. And this 328i combines its impressive 242bhp with a CO2 score of just 147g/km.

It doesn't sound quite as a car badged 328i should. Udo Haenle, 3-series project chief, says his engineers considered electronic sound synthesis through the stereo system, BMW M5-fashion, to create a straight-six soundtrack, but he felt there was no point in hiding the fact that today's 328i has a 2.0-litre four with a turbocharger.

You're not particularly aware of engine noises anyway, because this is a quiet car whose ample maximum torque – 258lb ft – plateaus all the way from 1250rpm to 4800.

It hardly needs the optional (£1500) automatic's eight ratios, given that the manual still manages 149g/km with its six gears, and the resulting frequent gearshifts aren't always smooth unless you intervene with the paddleshifters.

But this 328i is a properly fast car, with 62mph claimed from a standstill in just 6.1 effortless seconds.

There seemed little wrong with the previous E90 3-series' chassis dynamics, but the new F30, slightly larger but slightly lighter, shows there was room for improvement. Unlike some other recent BMWs this one has the precision, balance and fluidity a BMW should have, with a seemingly understeer-proof front end, crisp and credibly weighted steering and a taut but yielding ride.

The variable-ratio steering (£350), speeding its response as you turn, aids the agility, while the 'adaptive M' dampers (£750) are neither too floaty in Comfort nor too fidgety in the Sport Plus mode that also livens up the gearbox and accelerator and firms the steering.

Our test car was in Sport spec, one of three 'lines' which include 'Modern' and 'Luxury'. For the UK, however, the 328i will come as an M Sport rather than a mere Sport, with a slightly different look and the 'adaptive M' suspension as standard.

One final thought. Too many new cars have electric parking brakes, particularly annoying in a manual car, but the 3-series retains a proper handbrake. “It's better for sliding,” says Haenle.

Should I buy one?

If you’re in the market for a compact executive car with this sort of performance, then this is the pick of the bunch.

John Simister

BMW 328i ES auto

Price: £30,560; Top speed: 155mph; 0-62mph: 6.1sec; Economy: 44.8mpg (combined); CO2: 147g/km; Kerb weight: 1430kg; Engine: 4 cyls, 1997cc, turbo, petrol; Power: 242bhp at 5000-6500rpm; Torque: 258lb ft at 1250-4800rpm; Gearbox: 8-spd auto.

Join the debate

Comments
52

23 November 2011

What is that thing on the back seat?

23 November 2011

[quote Evo_ermine]What is that thing on the back seat? [/quote]

Looks like a giant man's washbag..


23 November 2011

Unbelievable economy and performance figures, especially for a petrol engine. I just don't like the idea of labelling a 2.0 as a '328i'.

23 November 2011

[quote bomb]

[quote Evo_ermine]What is that thing on the back seat? [/quote]

Looks like a giant man's washbag..

[/quote]

No, not a giant man, a Super Man...

Nice car, I'd take mine as a manual thanks.

23 November 2011

[quote Lee23404]

[quote bomb]

[quote Evo_ermine]What is that thing on the back seat? [/quote]

Looks like a giant man's washbag..

[/quote]

No, not a giant man, a Super Man...

[/quote]

It's a storage bag, with integral cupholders as can be seen, that clips into the centre belt fastening. When sir arrives at his destination the storage bag can be effortlessly removed and the employed as a subtlely branded rucksack; though sir is advised to remove the beverages before doing so.

That red line across the dashboard. No, no. No, no!

23 November 2011

[quote Autocar]Udo Haenle, 3-series project chief, says his engineers considered electronic sound synthesis through the stereo system, BMW M5-fashion, to create a straight-six soundtrack, but he felt there was no point in hiding the fact that today's 328i has a 2.0-litre four with a turbocharger. [/quote]

No, they just do that with the badging!

Another sport spec test. Are BMW worried about journo's trying anything else?

Red trim and stitching aside, as a package (in sports spec) this does do a very good impression of being all the car you'd ever need. Glad to see they have also worked their economy magic with the petrol engine as well.

 

 

It's all about the twisties........

23 November 2011

Impressive car pretty much all round (yes, red stripe excepted!). Glad to hear that engine noise is okay. Autoblog were quite critical of it, and it sounds like a knackered old diesel in their video clip!

23 November 2011

[quote March1]and it sounds like a knackered old diesel in their video clip[/quote]

My father in laws E90 335i sounds like a (quiet) diesel on idle, no idea why. His previous 330i sounded so much better.

23 November 2011

so we have had lots of bmw articles today!

Not a bad car by any stretch of the imagination - but its not m sport spec - so why write about a car that won't be sold over here? I quite like the car - its grown on me.

And flash suspension with three settings - that to me is just something else to go wrong after 3 years and out of warranty. Cars are just getting too complicated!

23 November 2011

uses a traditional handbrake. perfect reason to buy this car.

Pages

Add your comment

Log in or register to post comments

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

  • Car review
    9 December 2016
    Audi Sport drops a sub-4.0sec-to-60mph bomb into Porsche Cayman territory
  • First Drive
    9 December 2016
    Plug-in-hybrid 3 Series shows the benefit of BMW's experience with the i3 and i8. Sophisticated, swift and broadly talented to drive – and sweet-handing, too
  • Car review
    9 December 2016
    Italian brand emerges as a true luxury power with a large SUV
  • 2016 Porsche Panamera Turbo
    First Drive
    8 December 2016
    A smaller engine doesn't prevent the new Porsche Panamera Turbo being a ridiculously quick and capable sporting GT. We've driven it in the UK
  • 2016 Vauxhall Adam 1.0i Turbo Unlimited
    First Drive
    8 December 2016
    The 1.0-litre turbo engine and Unlimited trim combine to make this the best Adam in the line-up