By Cars.com EditorsMay 13, 2014
About the video
Cars.com reviewer Joe Wiesenfelder says the 2014 328d gets high marks for acceleration, braking, handling and interior quality - but with the one-two controversial punch of being both a wagon and a diesel.
(hood slams) (upbeat music) (tires screech) Hi, I'm Joe Wiesenfelder with cars.com. I'm here with one of cars.com's favorite models. It's a three series BMW.
This is the model that won our luxury sports sedan challenge last year, beating five other models because it has a great combination of acceleration, and braking, and handling, interior space, interior quality. This is pretty much that car, but there are a couple of differences. One, it's a 328d where D stands for diesel. And this one happens to be a wagon. Now, the advantage to the diesel engine in this car is mileage. With an EPA rating of 31 miles per gallon city, 43 highway and 35 combined, it's nine miles per gallon better than the combined figure for the 328 powered by a gas engine. Nine miles per gallon is good, especially because the gas powered 328 is a very efficient car in its own right. Interesting enough, they both have two liters of displacement and are turbo-charged though there are differences in the output. As you would expect with a diesel engine, which has a lot of torque at low RPM, it really launches off the line. This one does zero to 60 somewhere between seven and eight seconds whereas the gas version does it probably between six and seven. Now, in other regards again, the driving experience is very similar between this one and the gas powered one. This is a sport trim level, has a nice comfortable composed ride, the handling is very good as you would expect from a three series. It felt a little nose heavy to me, but I checked the specs and there's not much difference in the weight distribution. In fact, the overall curb weight of the entire car between this and the gas powered version practically the same. I would say all of our editors agreed one way, this car was different from the gas powered one was this. (car starts) Now most people know that diesel engines sound different and some would even say objectionable, but that doesn't mean they have to be audible or even intrusive inside the car. Frankly, we all thought for a luxury car, we heard a lot more engine in here than we expected to. I would say in that regard, the gas powered version is much, much better. The ownership experience with the diesel vehicle is a little bit different. For one thing, it is a little bit harder to find diesel fuel than gasoline, no doubt about that. And unlike the old days, the fuel tends to be more expensive than gas, though not always much more expensive than premium gas, which is what most luxury cars demand. One difference you'll see here, the blue cap is for diesel exhaust fluid. This is a urea solution that is injected into the exhaust stream. It gives the bad stuff something to react with so it becomes good stuff. That's what makes clean diesels as clean as gas powered cars. Don't worry about this. It gets refilled when you have your oil change. It's really not expensive and it's not a big inconvenience either. It's a kind of thing people worry about a little bit too much. Even though that urea system is in there, the overall cargo room in the diesel version of the wagon is the same as in the gas version. Now, BMW is one of the companies that learned early on that Americans are image weenies and they don't like wagons, station wagons. And then if they made a vehicle, even with the same internal volume and similar capabilities as a wagon, they made it look more like an SUV, like the X five, X three, or X one sports activity vehicles that they would sell five, six, 10, times more. But people in my line of work still like the wagon. And I'm going to show you why it's actually quite useful, pretty similar in a lot of ways. Now this is nifty to have. Not all lift gates have a separate window that opens. It means if you've got no clearance here, you can still get in. Very much like SUV's, you've got your power lift gate as an option in this case. Under floor storage here is pretty good, nice and deep. All right, the wagon pitch is not over yet. Check out how great this is. 40, 20, 40 split backseat. Think the versatility, can have two people back here, stuff in the middle, fold some of it, all of it. Hey, check this out too. You can put this thing up, keep the dogs in the back or the kids for that matter, Calm down internet, it was a joke. Think about it. The cargo volume, maximum cargo volume in the wagon here is only three cubic feet less than the X one and 10 cubic feet less than the X three. So I have to say, I am kind of squashed in here. The actual height of the cargo area itself is not as tall as you'll find it in more of an SUV shaped body style. Now, because I'm fair, I have to admit that pricing is where my wagon argument falls apart. Even if you look at the less expensive gas power three series wagon, it costs $9,000 more than a BMW X one and 1650 more than an X three. That's right, image weenies pay less, not more. And it should be the other way around. There should be a penalty for being an image weenie. I'm telling you, contact your Congressman, institute the weenie tariff. We can do this people (car revs)