By Cars.com EditorsMay 16, 2012
About the video
The 2012 BMW 3 Series is more powerful and more fuel efficient than ever, but there's one glaring issue that almost derails the whole thing: Its start-stop system is unbearably intrusive, according to Cars.com Executive Editor Joe Wiesenfelder.
<v Narrator>Cars.com auto review. Hi, I'm Joe Wiesenfelder with cars.com and you know, there's something I got to show you about this 2012 BMW 328i which was just redesigned. Come on inside.
There are a number of fuel saving measures in this redesign sedan. One of them is an auto start stop feature, actually it's stop start. You come to a stop, say at a traffic light, turns the engine off. When you let off the brake, it turns it back on. Here's the problem. It is appallingly intrusive. Here we go. (car starting) You know how in hybrids and such it'll turn the engine on and off and maybe you notice it. In this car it stops with a jolt and it restarts as if you're going (car starting imitation) starting it. Even my editor friends who read my review said, "They were not prepared for how bad this is." Here's the best thing about it. There's a button right above the start engine button from when you get in that turns this feature off. I suspect most owners are gonna get in the habit of going, one two, and forgetting it exists entirely. In fact, let's just start over. Hi, I'm Joe Wiesenfelder with cars.com. This is a redesigned 2012 BMW sedan. Only sedan has been redesigned for this model year. the 335 and the 328 have been redesigned. It's the 328 that we have here that's the big news though because there's a new powertrain. A direct injection twin scroll turbocharged, 2.0 liter four cylinder. That's right, a four cylinder instead of an inline six. This one though has 10 horsepower more than the previous generations. Sits at 240 horsepower, it also has 60 pounds feet more torque at 260. It does 0 to 60 in less than six seconds. More than ever, you just don't need a 335 the 328 will do it. Another big change is a new eight speed automatic transmission replacing the six speed from the previous generation. Among other things what it gives you is 23 miles per gallon, city 33 highway. Fortunately, you can also still get a manual transmission, a six speed that raises the highway fuel economy to 34 miles per gallon. As of the sedan's launch, the 328 comes in essentially four trim levels. There's the base and then there's three lines, modern, luxury and sport and you can see what they are by looking at the sill plate here which is actually strange because when your luxury car says, "Luxury," on it, it's a little bit lame. Now there's not much difference in the hardware between the base, the luxury and the modern. They all have the same suspension. The sport rides a little bit lower and it's firmer. Now in terms of driving, BMW has softened this thing up a bit. I think they've traded a little bit of body control for more road isolation. It is definitely comfortable. If you want to drive a little bit more aggressively, you might want to go with the sport trim level or trim line. Frankly, I think someone buying a BMW would put up with that suspension in any version but they decided to go with it this way. Now there are also changes on the inside and small ones on the outside among these different trim levels. Now this being a modern trim line, it has some differences inside. They include a beige colored gauge faces instead of black, and the most controversial element in the three series redesign and that is this raised grain wood trim, which I really like and most people hate. This is not an option aside from the trim level. If you don't like this stuff, you don't want to get the modern. Now the other two optional trims, the luxury has a conventional gloss, a wood trim, and the sport has real aluminum trim, both of those look good. The interior quality is quite good across the board on these levels and I noticed you even get some nice, soft touch material all the way down on the doors, all the way. One thing that's not as impressive is the regular base 328 because it has some of that foam metal plastic stuff and it also has vinyl seats. I'm gonna direct you to my full review to get some details on how you can interface your iPhone with the system, get this nice big display, integrate stuff like Pandora, internet radio. But before we move on, I have to show you one thing. Look, the three series finally has real cup holders. The Germans were so against cup holders that for awhile, they didn't have 'em and then they had really bad ones. Now they have the real deal up here where they're usable but as if embarrassed by them, they've created this little tray that you can put over it in case you're, I don't know, ashamed? There. Cup holders? What cup holder? Here's another improvement. The backseat has more room, more leg room. My knees are raised a bit which I don't find very comfortable usually, but it's not terrible at all for a car of this size. And there's actually more room in the trunk too. It's up from 12 cubic feet in the previous generation at 13.7. the BMW 3 series is an extremely popular and respected model. When cars get redesigned, it's a great opportunity to make them better or to totally screw 'em up. Thankfully, they made this one a little bit better. Check out my full review on cars.com. You can learn more about this and the 335, which we also tested. (cool techno outro) <v Narrator>For more car related news, go to cars.com or our blog Kickingtires.net.