Offered in 328 and twin-turbo 335 forms with different engines, the 3 Series is BMW's bread-and-butter model. This series has a history in the U.S. market that dates back to 1977. Available in sedan, wagon, coupe and retractable-hardtop convertible body styles, the 328 competes with the Infiniti G and Mercedes-Benz C-Class. Changes are minimal for 2008.
Paddle shifters are available for 2008 328 models with the automatic transmission and Sport Package. Coupes, sedans and wagons gain chrome-tipped exhaust pipes, and the latter two body styles get new 16-inch wheels as standard equipment.
Compared with the fourth-generation series, which debuted for 1999, the fifth-generation 328 sedan is larger in almost every dimension. Although its body is 30 pounds lighter than before, it's been stiffened. Front-to-rear weight distribution is close to 50/50.
The 328 features a long hood and short front overhangs. The coupe looks much like the sedan, but it's sleeker. All body styles have a prominent twin-kidney grille.
On the sedan and wagon, alloy wheels hold 16-inch tires, and 17-inch rubber is optional. Coupes and convertibles have standard 17-inch wheels. Run-flat tires are mounted on all models. Ground lighting in the door handles and adaptive brake lights are standard. Adaptive xenon high-intensity-discharge headlights and Active Steering with Servotronic speed-sensitive assist are optional.
Sedans and wagons can hold five occupants, while coupes and convertibles seat four. The sedan's trunk capacity is 12 cubic feet, and a folding rear seat is optional. Optional sport seats have adjustable backrest width.
A multifunction remote replaces the conventional key, and the engine fires via a start/stop button. Automatic climate control has a Heat-at-Rest feature to continue moving warm air around the cabin.
BMW's iDrive control system is available in the 3 Series as part of the optional navigation system. Subwoofers beneath the front seats are included with the standard audio system, and Sirius Satellite Radio can be installed. Logic7 surround sound is optional. A power rear sunshade is optional, and it includes manual rear side sunshades. Dynamic Cruise Control can gently apply the brakes to maintain the preset speed.
Under the Hood
The 328's 3.0-liter inline-six-cylinder produces 230 horsepower and 200 pounds-feet of torque. A six-speed manual gearbox is standard, and a six-speed Steptronic automatic transmission with Normal, Sport and Manual modes is optional.
Antilock brakes and an electronic stability system are standard. In non-convertible models, BMW's Head Protection System uses a side curtain airbag system to protect occupants in both the front and rear seats. Seat-mounted side-impact airbags are installed up front.