The new 2012 3-Series sedans
are nearly four inches longer than the previous models, with two inches of extra wheelbase; about an inch of that goes to increased rear legroom, and that extra bit goes a long way. The 3-Series still isn’t good for having adults ride in the back seat on long road trips, but most will now find it tight but tolerable back there. Front seats, whether the base perches or the more heavily bolstered ones that come with the Sport package, are supportive, comfortable, and adjustable for a wide range.
, and the M3 all continue for 2012 under the current E90 versions, and they’re unchanged (for the Coupes
and Convertibles, please see our review here), but sedans are completely redesigned (and code-named F30 for enthusiasts)—and distinguished at first glance by their larger greenhouse, more actively sculpted flanks, and wider front-end look.
For several of its generations, the 3-Series has been powered only by in-line six-cylinder engines. But for 2012 the 3-Series gets an all-new turbocharged four-cylinder engine in 328i models. The new engine makes 240 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque—more than many V-6 engines—yet it hits EPA highway ratings of up to 36 mpg. That’s made possible in part due to a new eight-speed automatic transmission (a six-speed manual is standard), along with a host of high-tech improvements, including Auto Start-Stop, which smartly stops the engine at stoplights to save fuel, restarting when you lift off the brake. 335i models get the latest version of BMW’s turbocharged 3.0-liter six-cylinder engine, making 300 horsepower and 300 pound-feet of torque.
iDrive is now de rigueur on all 3-Series models, but it’s the latest version with streamlined menus, and a new BMW Apps integration—enabling music streaming from Pandora and MOG—lets you use your smartphone’s data stream. The down side is that requires a $250 smartphone holder, and it’s only compatible with versions of the iPhone.
No need to worry about losing two cylinders; any way you use it, the new four-cylinder 328i feels stronger than the six-cylinder model before it; 0-60 times clock at as little as 5.7 seconds (just 0.3 seconds faster than the 335i), and rolling into the throttle produces a strong wave of torque from just above idle (peak is reached at just 1,250 rpm) all the way up the rev range. The automatic is quick-shifting and in some models includes paddle-shifters, while the manual is enjoyable to drive with its clean, precise shift action. All the rest of what makes a good sport sedan is here; new electric power steering systems are nothing to be afraid of as they’re precise and load nicely, while brakes are strong and fade-free, no matter which model.