Offered in 328 and 335 models, BMW's compact 3 Series is the luxury automaker's bread-and-butter model. For 2012, the sedan has been redesigned and is now in its sixth generation, starting the year with rear-wheel drive (all-wheel-drive "xi" versions will come later in the model year). Coupe and retractable-hardtop convertible body styles, a wagon and the high-performance M3 version (covered separately) will continue in the fifth-generation form for two more model years. The clean-diesel 335d has been discontinued. The 3 Series competes with the Audi A4, Infiniti G and Mercedes-Benz C-Class. New for 2012
The redesigned 328i sedan is powered by a new turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder and adds an eight-speed automatic transmission.
For all versions, BMW Apps, a feature that allows a variety of iPhone applications to run through the iDrive system, is a $250 option.
Coupes, convertibles and wagons have different front and rear styling touches. The 335is has a unique front air dam with larger air intakes. Exterior features include:
- Standard adaptive xenon headlights
- 17-inch alloy wheels
- Optional 18- or 19-inch wheels
- Optional Active Steering system with speed-sensitive assist
- Optional automatic high beams
The sedan is 3.7 inches longer than the previous generation, and its exterior design has evolved. Different grille, side mirror and tailpipe treatments distinguish among the sedan's base, Modern, Sport and Luxury trim levels, which come as option packages called "lines."Interior
Sedans and wagons seat five, but there's room for only four in the coupe and convertible. The iDrive system — standard in the sedan but available only with an optional navigation system in the others — is BMW's latest version, revamped with better graphics, more shortcut keys and improved menu functionality. Interior features include:
- Push-button start
- Standard automatic climate control
- Optional front and rear parking assist
- Optional navigation system
- Optional Dynamic Cruise Control can gently apply the brakes to maintain a preset speed
- Standard HD radio
- Optional satellite radio
The sedan features an updated interior with more backseat legroom and a larger trunk. Its optional Sport line includes sport seats and steering wheel, and the M Sport line, coming later in the model year, adds other upgrades and M logos.Under the Hood
The 328 sedan's new turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder has 240 horsepower. The other body styles retain the 230-hp, normally aspirated 3.0-liter inline-six-cylinder.
A 300-hp, single-turbo 3.0-liter inline-six-cylinder carries over to all 335 body styles for 2012, though the sedan now offers an eight-speed automatic while the other body styles still have a six-speed automatic. All 3 Series models can also be had with six-speed manual for no difference in price.
The 335is, currently available only in coupe and convertible body styles, has a 320-hp, twin-turbo 3.0-liter engine. A seven-speed dual-clutch automated manual transmission is a $450 option on this model.
Convertibles are not available with side curtain airbags like the other body styles. Convertibles do get side airbag head extensions. Safety features include:
- Antilock brakes
- Electronic stability system
- Side curtain airbags (not available on convertible)
- Side-impact airbags for the front seats
- Active front head restraints
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