2012 BMW 3-Series

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2012 BMW 328i — Flash Drive

By Staff of MSN Autos

View Pictures:  2012 BMW 328i

The BMW 328i is not my idea of the ultimate driving machine. The engine makes a rattling noise so much like a diesel that I actually got out of the car and checked the fuel cap to be sure it ran on gasoline; it does. When I got back inside, my hands touched the horribly rippled "wood" which looks and feels exactly like very cheap plastic to me. Finally, when cornering quickly, the lack of good body control reminded me more of being tossed about like a small boat on the ocean than it did of driving a proper performance car. I guess the shock absorbers have too little rebound damping. Nothing about this car feels like the ultimate driving machine. BMW makes some great cars, but it doesn't make affordable great cars. –Paul Hagger

The BMW 3-Series sedan has been the benchmark sport sedan for decades, and the all-new 2013 328i sedan carries the torch well. While the exterior design looks like a smaller version of the 5-Series, the real news is under the hood. The base engine is now a new, turbocharged direct-injection 2.0-liter 4-cylinder that puts out 240 horsepower and 250 lb-ft of torque. Mated with an 8-speed automatic transmission the drivability is fantastic. There is plenty of power for brisk acceleration when desired, but under normal everyday driving conditions it's all about silky smooth efficiency. Under moderate acceleration the transmission shifts up almost unnoticed to take advantage of the broad torque band and reduce fuel-consumption in the process — you'll get mid- to upper-20s mpg combined and 35 mpg on the highway. As expected from a BMW, chassis dynamics create a balanced, nimble feel, although the shocks might be a little soft. The steering is precise and quick, but the old-school steering feel is long gone. Inside, the styling is a little too busy for my taste, with lots of different shapes and angles. The iDrive screen looks like it was just stuck right in the middle of the dash, and the wood trim on our test car had a very odd texture. But the bottom line is how it drives, and the new 328i continues to set the bar for sport sedans. –Mike Meredith

BMW has made some extensive revisions to the 2012 3-Series. No drastic change to the styling, but it does have a sleeker look up front as well as updated taillights. But the big news is under that fresh skin. The new turbocharged 2-liter engine puts out more power and considerably more low-end torque than the previous-generation inline-6 engine, and the change is immediately apparent. The added torque, combined with the new 8-speed automatic, means very smooth power and plenty of it. But that added power and performance doesn't cost at the pump; I averaged 26 mpg, and BMW claims 36 mpg highway. The ride is incredibly comfortable — even sport mode doesn't feel stiff like in some other sport sedans, but there's no loss in handling. However, one of the reasons BMW can claim such high fuel-economy numbers is the engine auto-shutoff. In theory this is a great idea, but the engine doesn't restart smoothly, and it seems just slightly slow in restarting. But with such a great combination of power, comfort and handling, this is what I expect a BMW to be. –Perry Stern

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BB04 - 7/29/2014 5:11:28 AM