A renowned champion is back, now with boost It's not every day that a writer likes a test car enough to put one in his own garage.
The BMW 3-series has long since proven itself as a staple in the automotive industry. It has been renowned for a number of things; namely being the “ultimate driving machine”. This past year has led to me falling hard for a number of players in this very competitive class; namely the Audi S4, the BMW 335i, and the Cadillac ATS 3.6. This past week I was exceptionally pleased to welcome a new member to my personal garage; the 2013 BMW 328i Sport Line with the M-Sport package. Though this particular piece you’re reading may not be too much different from a typical car review, we’ll be reporting back on how the car is doing periodically. After all, one thing I cannot stress enough is that BMW’s sketchy reliability record is (at least partially) to blame on poor maintenance.
One of the alluring points of the 3-series has always been its inline 6-cylinder engine. The 328i’s turbocharged 2.0L 4-cylinder then, is a bit of a departure from BMW’s history. Honestly, I miss the sound of the inline-6. My parents had a previous-generation 323i for a while and I truly adored the sound of that motor. Though slightly anemic in the “go” department, that car sounded and handled beautifully. This turbo 4-pot puts out a healthy 241-horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque, though it feels far more powerful.
The new 328i pulls hard and strong right through its entire power band, and turbo lag is virtually non-existent. Driving it in “Eco Pro” mode hinders the throttle and motivates you to light-foot the car, but Sport and Sport+ are both substantially livelier and definitely wake the car up. The 8-speed automatic is perfect; never hunting for gears and the sounds are almost DCT-like. It’s one of the few transmissions where I’d say that I don’t mind the lack of a third pedal. Having taken delivery with just 6km on the odometer, the car has yet to pass break-in period and so fuel economy is still in the range of 9.5L/100km combined.
The new-for-2012 3-series (affectionately referred to by fans by its chassis code, F30) comes in a few different lines. The 328i starts at $39,900 for the entry-level “Classic” line. This is essentially a base xDrive car. For $46,900, you step up to the Luxury and Modern lines. Slightly different body skirting, grilles, and wheels set the lines apart, and an extra $1500 on top of those puts you into my Sport Line car. An additional $2500 adds the M-Sport design package. The baffling thing is, even at $50,000, your sport-packaged 328i xDrive doesn’t come with features like navigation or the bigger screen.
Unique styling cues on the Sport Line are especially evident; the blacked out tailpipes, the red stitching throughout the interior (including red highlights on the all-season rubber mats!) and the sport grille all look great. Of course, the 18” Sport Line wheels are gorgeous as well. The Dakota Leather that is standard on the Modern, Luxury, and Sport Lines is absolutely phenomenal; anybody who tells you that BMW leatherette is “just as good as real leather” is flat out lying. The additional bolstering and adjustability of the sport seats is great; thigh support is a must-have for my six-foot self.
On to the downsides; this 2013 BMW 328i Sport Line has a pretty big one. Firstly, I don’t like that BMW essentially forces xDrive on you. I know it’s a wonderful system and all, but the family 323i that I had come to love was rear-wheel-drive, and it took care of me just fine in even the worst winter storms. In fact, my father, someone who vowed some 30 years ago never to buy a rear-wheel-drive car again, is now a convert. In order to get a rear-drive 2013 328i, you must special order one from the factory. Secondly, I know it’s me being a bit nitpicky, but the diesel-esque clatter of the turbo-4 engine is a bit much. It seems to have sucked a tiny bit of passion out of this otherwise near-perfect sedan.
Here are the facts. The 328i is a bit slower than a 335i. It’s also significantly cheaper. If the extra few grand for a comparable 335i is no object, then I’d suggest you go and buy one; the sound of that car is to die for. For every day driving, fuel saving, and 80% of the fun of a 335i, this “next-up” is nearly as good. The A4 and C-Class are great; they’re just aging at this point. The ATS is also great, but it’s a new player in an established segment. Want a safe choice? I don’t think there’s a more ideal everyday driver than the ultimate driving machine.
2013 BMW 328i Sport Line Gallery