By Cars.com EditorsJanuary 10, 2012
About the video
From the 2012 Detroit Auto Show, Cars.com's Joe Wiesenfelder takes a look at the 2012 BMW 3 Series.
<v Advertiser>cars.com auto review. Hi, I'm Joe Wiesenfelder from Cars.com. We're taking our first look at a completely redesigned BMW 3 Series Compact Sedan. It is a 2012 model, sixth generation.
One of the biggest changes is the 328 now has a 240 horsepower, two liter turbocharged four cylinder, which replaces the three liter In Line Six, but it actually has 10 horsepower more. The 335 carries over the three liter In Line Six with 300 horsepower. Both of these get an eight speed automatic transmission as an option instead of a six. We can't wait to drive them. But unfortunately, now all we can do is take a look. The car is almost four inches longer, but it's actually a flat a fraction of an inches narrower, even so it looks broader because of the way the grill is tied into the headlight clusters. I also think the headlights are a big improvement. Instead of that translucent white plastic looking eyelash that looked like shipping material that should have been removed, now they have that chrome look and it's accented by the LED lights. Very nice. There are three trim levels. The Sport Line, the Modern Line and the Luxury Line and which trim level it is partly determines the way the front is finished. Here we have grills with chrome slats. There are 11 of them. Some of the cars have eight of them. Also there's some differences in the level of chrome down low. The Sport trim level has no chrome down low and much bigger openings. The inside is nice and comfortable. This is the Sport trim level. So it has sports seats. I've got this one all the way back, very long seat travel. I can't even reach the pedals from here. I'm six feet tall. That's good. Because it is the Sport trim level it has some extras. It has an M steering wheel. Also this aluminum trim, which is really kind of, it's patterned and it's textured. Very nice. The kind of thing I would expect to see from Audi, which was much more of a leader in changing materials and textures. Other things that are good about it, the display is nice and high. It's exactly as high as it needs to be, to see without being so high, that it blocks your vision. Now you can choose between the sport comfort and eco modes, using a rocker switch. You just cycle through them instead of hitting a bunch of different buttons. Unfortunately on the downside, with the automatic transmission, you still get this springy gear selector lever, which we don't like. Finally, the German automakers campaign against beverages seems to be ending. Even in the 3 Series here, if you lift this little tray, it's like they're ashamed of it. They're hiding it. Very deep, usable cup holders. And there are also bottle holders in the door pockets but they're at such an angle. It really seems like it would be best to keep the bottles capped you could be wearing it. As for the backseat, BMW says it's a little bit bigger. I think the headroom is fine. Leg room, okay. The floor is a little bit high though. So if you're tall, you're not gonna want to spend too much time back here. Now obviously, we can't penalize them for having a long seat travel. I couldn't sit on this side with the seat all the way back, but not many people would need it that far back. A final welcome change. The trunk is now closer to 14 cubic feet than 12 cubic feet in the earlier generation which was not very big, even for a compact car. We'll take it. Now, this is the one model from BMW that never got a hit by the Chris Bangle ugly stick. So I wasn't really looking for it to be a lot better, but I have to say this redesign looks terrific. We can't wait to drive it. <v Advertiser>For more car related news, go to cars.com or our blog KickingTires.net.