By on January 14, 2013

Canadians have long been privy to a stripped down, lease-special BMW in the form of the 320i. Thanks to BMW’s insatiable quest for volume, Americans will be too. For $33,445, you’ll get a 180 horsepower turbo 4-cylinder and an 8-speed automatic, with a 34 mpg highway rating. And the unbearable stigma of the 320i badge.

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165 Comments on “NAIAS 2013: BMW 320i Takes The Leasing World By Storm...”


  • avatar
    icemilkcoffee

    Just slap a 335i badge on there and you’ll look like a success story.

    • 0 avatar
      cognoscenti

      It would take more than the badge, since the rims will clearly identify the lower trim level from a distance.

      • 0 avatar
        th009

        Few people know what the badges really mean (apart from the blue and white roundel). And if you debadge, even fewer will spot it as a pedestrian version.

        Debadging works the other way, too: there are M3s and S4s out there without badges, and the uninitiated will never know that it’s a more expensive (and faster) car.

      • 0 avatar
        Caboose

        @ cognoscenti

        Only to those who know… fewer and fewer of whom are buying BMWs anymore. Hell, you could probably fool 25% of the general population if you put 5-series badges on it (the downside to “same sausage; different lengths”).

    • 0 avatar
      redliner

      335i?

      Bah! I spit on your 335i badging and raise you cheap BMW “M” emblems off ebay.

      Now THAT’S success!

      • 0 avatar

        Find the red-color badge option and you’ll confound people even more!

      • 0 avatar
        corntrollio

        I see a good percentage of Vatozone-quality AMG badges off EBay, but rarely if ever a fake M. It’s obvious to anyone who knows anything about cars that these AMG badges are fake, and they are also less shiny and don’t reflect light the same way as the rest of the lettering on the car. I even saw a young guy with an old beater SL320 convertible that had a fake AMG badge, but I wondered if he was being ironic.

        Even a few S-Classes have had them, which is pathetic. It probably says something negative about the driver if he/she feels inferior with a $90,000 car.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        “It’s obvious to anyone who knows anything about cars that these AMG badges are fake, and they are also less shiny and don’t reflect light the same way as the rest of the lettering on the car.”

        That’s probably the silliest conception of what constitutes automotive knowledge that I’ve ever seen.

      • 0 avatar
        corntrollio

        “That’s probably the silliest conception of what constitutes automotive knowledge that I’ve ever seen.”

        The badge reflectivity is an added thing that makes them look like a cheap bastard, in addition to the fact that it’s obviously not an AMG vehicle by visual inspection and badging. What part of that was unclear to you in the original sentence?

        The car, to anyone who knows anything about cars, is obviously not a C32/C43/C55/C63 or E55/E63 or S55/S63/S65, and it doesn’t have the AMG styling cues generally.

    • 0 avatar
      BMWnut

      The lack of dual tailpipes will give the game away.

      • 0 avatar
        golden2husky

        It is all irrelevant. Those in the know will know, but those who aspire to the altar of the ROUNDEL, you know, most of the leasers, will not be able to tell. Since it is about the badge for an overwhelming number of buyers/leasers, the 320i will not be a problem. All this fake badge BS started with the yuppies with their Reagan-era 3 series. Back then, fake M badges spread like cancer.

    • 0 avatar
      tatracitroensaab

      The fact is that to 90% of the population it’s just a BMW.

  • avatar
    carguy

    I’m sure that most of these will be sold with the “no badge” option. A gutless BMW is sad but not nearly as sad as the Mercedes CLA aka the Mercedes X-type.

    I wonder if you can undo the de-tuning that BMW inflicted on this car (with no apparent fuel economy gains).

  • avatar
    bumpy ii

    Used to be cars had eight cylinders and four speeds. Now they have four cylinders and eight speeds.

    As for “shame”, who cares? Chip/flash for a good sleeper.

    • 0 avatar
      tuffjuff

      Good luck finding somebody to flash that ECU under lease. ;)

      • 0 avatar
        mcs

        “Good luck finding somebody to flash that ECU under lease. ;)”

        Take a look at the Dinan authorized dealer list – there are a number of BMW dealers included. I’m sure any of those dealers would be perfectly happy to deliver the car with the re-flash already installed.

    • 0 avatar

      The important question is, how much fun are they having driving that thing? If they’re having fun, the badge is irrelevant.

      • 0 avatar
        Tick

        Good point Dave. First BMW I ever drove was a 318i and I immediately recognized that car for what it was. The attention to detail and driver feedback was an eye opener. Even though it lacked power, the engine was eager and fun. There’s more to a car than the number that comes before HP. This a chance for someone to drive a great car at not a lot of money. Sure, they may not get the extras that a lower brand might be able to offer for the same price, but they get the chassis the other guys don’t offer.

        This might be hard for some people to understand, but we don’t all want to drive unreliable obscure cars from 15 years ago. Some of us enjoy driving cars that not only start every morning but reward the driver with the kind of experience that doesn’t show up on spec sheets.

      • 0 avatar
        cognoscenti

        @Tick “Some of us enjoy driving cars that not only start every morning but reward the driver with the kind of experience that doesn’t show up on spec sheets.”

        This excellent point bears repeating. If half the people here complaining about underpowered 3-Series (including the 240HP 328i) and attributing sales success to merely brand whoring/badges/status were to go DRIVE one, they might understand.

      • 0 avatar
        Tick

        @cognoscenti I’ll give you a pass on the Cessna avatar. I’m more of a Maule guy myself but you’re exactly right. There are far too many internet experts on here. “But that car has bigger numbers than that car, so it’s better!” If those people went out and actually spent half as much time driving cars as they did commenting on them, their opinions may change.

        When I wanted a fast car I drove an STI, 350Z, Corvette, and Audi S4. I finally settled on the 2000 BMW M Roadster, the least powerful of the lot. Why? Because I knew why I wanted it from the moment I drove it around the block. You can’t put driver enjoyment on a spec sheet.

  • avatar
    Sammy B

    I will love to see this sell well just so Infiniti can yell “COME ON!” while looking at G25x sales :)

    In other news, am I the only one who actually wouldn’t mind driving this (or the G25x) in stick shift form? Having a lighter and less expensive RWD sedan would serve my purposes. The IS250 appeals to me from that standpoint…I just wish I could get one with less equipment. Same reason I liked the G8 V6 w/ a stick. Sure, the V8 is great and all, but I didn’t look at the V6 as being totally awful.

    • 0 avatar
      threeer

      Sadly, most Americans would not appreciate a real stripper 4 banger 3-series…you know…cloth interior, manual trans…served up for under $30k. Lighter weight and revvier 4 would be fun, and I’d certainly entertain it. But then again, I absolutely loved my 2002 and later, my euro-spec 318i (it had manual crank windows, for goodness sake..the horror…how did I ever survive??).

      • 0 avatar
        PartsUnknown

        This. LIghtweight, real wheel drive, 4 cylinder with manual trans and light on the options, thanks…reminds me of something…oh, yeah…the car that once defined BMW, the 2002. Not saying this 320i is an homage to the ’02, but it’s probably closer to that than anything else BMW makes today. I don’t think there’s any shame in owning this car, especially if the driving dynamics are intact.

      • 0 avatar
        segfault

        BMW’s vinyl/fake leather (on the base 3-series) is actually really nice. It gets cold here, so you’d still want heated seats, but I wouldn’t feel bad at all about having the vinyl.

      • 0 avatar
        Synchromesh

        No matter how you slice that BMW it will never be lightweight. And it will still be a BMW. For the same amount of money (near $30K) I’d much rather have a WRX. It has standard awd, it’s much more practical and tunable than a basic 4-cyl and it doesn’t have that awful BMW badge. That last part alone would seal the deal for me.

    • 0 avatar
      Tick

      @SammyB

      +1 dude

    • 0 avatar
      snakebit

      I’m with Sammy B and Partsunknown. How does this real 3 Series compare with the ‘I wish I were a real BMW’ 1 Series. Same money? This 320 is much more what I would trade for than any 1 Series. I have an E46 coupe with 190 something horses, and it’s puts a grin on my face each time I drive it. If you remember the E36 Compact (in the States, the 318ti hatch from ’95-’98) I’d go for that before the 1 Series.

      I think the 320 is a great move for BMW. It’ll put more people behind the wheel of a real, no apologies, BMW. Good for them.

      • 0 avatar
        tjh8402

        @Parts unknown and snakebit, my concern is that the driving dynamics won’t be intact. Taking weight out of the nose will not make the car drive like an e46 or e30. EPS, run flat tires, and BMW’s general ever increasing emphasis on comfort and driver isolation will ensure this car remains the cheapest way for a sorority girl to move her friends around in a BMW with sufficient space to paint their toenails in the back seat.

  • avatar
    gslippy

    Eeks. Why would anyone buy this instead of (for example) a loaded Optima Turbo, Sonata Turbo, Fusion EcoBoost, or the new Mazda 6?

    • 0 avatar
      th009

      Because you are paying for different things when you buy a low-end BMW (Audi, Mercedes, …) than a loaded Ford (Hyundai, Kia, …). Which of the two options is the better one really depends on your values and preferences.

      • 0 avatar
        Tick

        +1

        What!?!? You mean there’s a difference between a BMW and a Kia! I can tell you with absolute certainty that my laptop tells me a different story. Why, as soon as my Mom gets done making me macaroni and cheese, I will post a long diatribe on this site to prove you so wrong. Bow before my use of the words Bangle, Toyonda, and Camcord!

    • 0 avatar
      mannygg

      Because they want a more premium product than the options you listed? Because they drove all cars in their price range and preferred the BMW? Because they don’t want a FWD car? I’m sure there are enough reasons.

      If I had to buy a new BMW (or car at all) it would probably be the M135i instead of a 320, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t hold some value over the options you listed.

    • 0 avatar
      icemilkcoffee

      The answer is obvious. Because some people want to feel superior to people who buy Optima/Fusion/Mazda6, etc.

      • 0 avatar
        Sinistermisterman

        ^This.
        My next door neighbours in my apartment building both work in marketing, and each one has a practically brand new leased BMW (a X3 and a 3 series). For them it’s about image. They want to be seen driving such cars because they believe that people think of them as wealthy and… and… oh I don’t know. The whole point of why people buy into overly expensive luxury brands is lost on me. I’ll stick with my fully paid for Cobalt thankyouverymuch.

      • 0 avatar
        mannygg

        @sinistermisterman – see just one anecdote about your neighbours doesn’t a rule make. There are people who buy for the badge (as icemilkcoffee states) and those that buy because they like the car /it’s the best in their price range / they love BMWs / whatever.

        Serious question – what is it you like about your cobalt and why did you buy it? not because “it made financial sense”, but as a fan of cars (you are on a car enthusiast site) why choose a cobalt? Not trying to be obtuse in any way, but interested in why your selection criteria are better than someone who thinks a BMW is a good car to own.

        Cost no question, I would think there are few people who would rather take a cobalt over a 3-series. If they have a limited budget, than an e36 / e46 are both good and cheap options too.

      • 0 avatar
        tuffjuff

        I don’t want to be seen in a Kia because I don’t want the tow truck to think my car is the one to break down. That was last week – this week, it’s my neighbor.

        Seriously. Getting rid of my constantly in the shop 2010 Kia Forte EX was the best decision I ever made. What a stress reliever, dumping a lemon that the manufacturer isn’t willing to call a lemon.

      • 0 avatar
        Sinistermisterman

        @mannygg
        Re: anecdotes & rules – I suppose so. But given the number of anecdotes I’ve heard over the years and people I’ve spoken to who own BMW’s, IMHO there are very very few who actually buy them for being ‘the ultimate driving machine.’
        As for the Cobalt, I keep asking myself the same question. Why did I buy that dishwater dull vehicle. Answer? It actually was the cheapest new car going, and after a string of mechanically crocked used cars, and getting fed up of spending time under the bonnet, scraping my knuckles and getting covered in filth, I wanted something with a warranty – anything to be honest. And compared to the old Hyundai Accent or Kia Rio it was awesome (some comparison I know). There are numerous other reasons, but cost was actually the biggest one. I now absolutely regret buying a car on cost alone and will never do it again, but I’d still rather own a Cobalt that I can afford than pretend I’m rich and lease a bimmer.

      • 0 avatar
        wsn

        mannygg: Cost no question, I would think there are few people who would rather take a cobalt over a 3-series.

        Cost no question, I don’t think anybody would take a 3 series. Personally I would take an Enzo. The Veyron is not my cup of tea.

      • 0 avatar
        golden2husky

        …..people I’ve spoken to who own BMW’s, IMHO there are very very few who actually buy them for being ‘the ultimate driving machine.’……

        Sinistermisterman: Phasers locked on target! You hit the target with surgical precision!

      • 0 avatar
        tjh8402

        I could care less about the badge. Find me another lightweight RWD sedan with a great manual gearbox, smooth powerul sonorous engine that still gets decent fuel economy, has amazing steering, impeccable handling, a highway ride thats comfy after 300 miles. If Chevy made a car like that, I’d be happy to consider it. The G35/G37 comes awfully close, but you still got a snooty badge. I always wished Nissan would sell that car with cloth manual seats and a nissan badge for $10k less.

      • 0 avatar
        mannygg

        Cheers for the reply sinistermisterman.

        Cost no object, I was really referring to Daily Drivers. I’ll take a Zonda please :)

    • 0 avatar
      carlisimo

      Rear-wheel drive. Relatively balanced handling. A modicum of steering feel. A nice interior. The promise of free maintenance. The badge. To a few people it might just feel like it has better ergonomics.

    • 0 avatar
      tekdemon

      Because you want RWD or RWD biased AWD. Or a BMW badge.

  • avatar
    mannygg

    I don’t understand everyone’s problem. Why does it matter if someone wants a 3-series but doesn’t need the fastest one or the most expensive option?

    Maybe it’s because I’ve lived in Australia and Europe (where 316, 318, 320 – petrol and diesel – variants are all available), but why should engine size be the only criteria for a good car?

    The 3-series is, by reputation, a very good quality car and a good drive. The popularity of the model supports that. So, if someone has 33000 to spend on a new car, I wouldn’t call it sad or shameful that they would choose a 320. Better to have the option than not.

    Full disclosure – I have never owned a car with less than 200hp. Many of my friends do however and have little interest in speed other than their car ‘feeling quick’.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      I’m no Germophile but to me the image of the 3-series was small but quick with excellent handling and reasonable power to boot for a premium price. If you’re in the market for small, sedate, 4-cyl luxury, you’ve got some choice as it is in both front and rear/all wheel drive (TSX/ILX, A4, C230, Mini, ATS, 2013 MKZ). The 3-series could differentiate itself by sticking with its classic I6 as a standard engine (esp in light of their being now a 1 series), but evidently BMW doesn’t think much of their customers.

      • 0 avatar
        Vega

        I6 is on the way out in the lower power band. Fewer cylinders, smaller displacement & turbo is far more efficient. For the next round, BMW is going to put 3 cylinder engines in the 1 and 3 series…

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      Your logic is off in stating that “very good quality car and a good drive. The popularity of the model supports that.”

      No, the popularity of the BADGE supports that. The “quality” you speak of is lost in that it’s less reliable and more maintenance-heavy than pretty much ANY Japanese (and some Korean) cars today.

      I’d argue the “good drive” feature/quality has been lost since about 2010 as well. The Escalade was once very “popular” but it was NEVER a quality car, nor was it a good drive.

      • 0 avatar
        mannygg

        See CoreyDL, I think that is pretty much just repeating current popular opinion amongst *internet enthusiasts*.

        Do you say that 2010 plus cars are a poor drive because you’ve driven one extensively? My work car is a 2011 330d. Not a car I would buy myself, but one that is really, really good at what it does. Great handling for a modern family car, great fuel economy and plenty of power. It can sit stable at 120mph for hours on end and then provide pretty good entertainment when onto country roads.

        Regarding the I6, I think that’s more a reflection of BMW’s opinion of USA customers. Big engine means good car. Anyone who wants a ‘premium’ car with adequate power and good fuel consumption for a lower price must be stupid.

        I do agree with you that popularity != quality (not always anyway).

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        “Anyone who wants a ‘premium’ car with adequate power and good fuel consumption for a lower price must be stupid.”

        This is more of a European mindset, some Americans care more for fuel economy than performance, but there are already a dozen brands competing on that metric. I have never met a BMW owner who gives a damn about fuel economy they are either (1) brand focused/run with the joneses or (2) the dwindling performance buyer. It seems BMW is trying to attract some buyers with supposed better fuel economy, still retain/attract brand snobs with looks or doodads, and give the finger to enthusiasts.

      • 0 avatar
        joeveto3

        As a BMW owner (not someone who leased) and hopeful keeper (assuming I don’t get bored and the car doesn’t prove to be a nightmare), I have found the BMW to definitely be more expensive than other cars I’ve owned. It would be much, much worse if I wasn’t mechanically inclined and willing to do the maintenance myself.

        You really cannot take a BMW to the local oil change place and have work done. And even doing the work yourself requires some additional legwork. This is because BMW is specific with the oil that is required (LL01 – Long Life European Spec) which most stores do not stock. Furthermore, finding the correct oil filter is not (at least initially) very easy. NAPA does carry them as does Amazon.

        The owner who does not wish to pay the $120/hr BMW dealer rates had also better be prepared to start buying tools. Oil change tools, spark plug tools, differential tools, BMW code tools…it adds up quickly. But love is never cheap. Right?

        It’s not just the oil changes. Differential fluid needs to be sourced. Manual transmission fluid (this is an enthusiast site,we only drive sticks, right?) needs to be sourced. Power steering fluid, brake fluid,and coolant need to be sourced. Wal-Mart and most auto parts stores do not stock these specific fluids, and once you do find them…guess what? They are two to five times more expensive than what you would pay for the “common” vehicle.

        Bigger jobs usually require one-time use aluminum fasteners that need to be sourced.

        The direct-injected turbocharged motor requires top-tier premium fuel, without exception. And yet you should still be prepared to periodically pull the intake to scrub down the intake valves. But this isn’t just a BMW issue.

        And the electronic stuff? Let’s just say that when I found a mouse nest on top of the engine I look at often, I nearly shit a brick and then considered what kind of $$$$$ beating $$$$$ I would take if I drove the car straight to a dealer and traded it for something else. The potential damage one of those little SOB’s can do to any car, let alone a BMW with its myriad electronic “stuff” is too much for my brain to contemplate.

        But we are not common drivers. We are special people (a-holes), breathed on by the Most High, and that’s why we drive our Special German vehicles with schnoz pointed firmly towards the sky so as to better look down upon all the…rest of THOSE folks in the OTHER cars…

        Just Kidding.

        I seriously love all cars. My last was a Prius, a Camry before that, a 4-Runner before that, and a Grand Marquis (Panther Love!) before that. I just think cars (and trucks) are cool.

        Listen, if the marque appeals to you, and leasing doesn’t make sense…be prepared to pay through the nose…even more if you aren’t prepared/equipped to do some of your own wrenching.

        Don’t let anyone tell you these are cheap, inexpensive cars. Own one and you will quickly learn to listen to it and dread ANYTHING that doesn’t seem “right” for fear it will bore a hole into your chest, rip out your still beating financial heart, and waive it in front of your face before stomping….

        I digress…

        On the upside, BMWs are usually fun to drive and easy to maintain (once you get into the rhythm of ordering and stocking special fluids, parts and tools).

      • 0 avatar
        E46M3_333

        “And the electronic stuff? Let’s just say that when I found a mouse nest on top of the engine…”

        If you love your car so much, perhaps you should invest in a garage.

      • 0 avatar
        joeveto3

        @E46 Thanks for the investment advice.

        I have a 3.5 car garage. Our back yard is a 155 acre forest preserve. It has mice living in it. With the various traps in my garage, I’ve caught 8 so far. It seems that living here, north of Chicago, when the temps fall, they seek the warmth of said garage when the door is open.

        Go figure.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        @joeveto3

        Great feedback, and that’s an excellent point about the premium gas requirement.

      • 0 avatar
        mannygg

        joeveto3 – that was great and very true! To some extend, all BMWs could be considered quasi-enthusiast vehicles. Tight-arses need not apply :)

        I have an e46 m3, so it isn’t actually as bad as yours sounds, but parts can be expensive and things do go wrong. Fortunately, looking after my car (whatever car i’ve had) has never really bothered me. No major problems in the 12 months since i’ve owned the car probably helps!

      • 0 avatar
        fvfvsix

        joveto3- I’m with you completely. I love cars – much to the chagrin of my wife (who is also secretly a car snob), and I’ve had quite a few of them. I take care of my cars, and I don’t balk at the fact that our X3 takes a $76 “do-it your freakin’ self” oil change at every half-oil service interval on the indictor. Why? because it’s mine – not the leasing company or lender’s. If you own a BMW, you just have to accept the greater maintenance costs when compared to the Asian or US brands.

        Our cars provide us with driving enjoyment and help keep the things that really matter in life safe. What kind of expense do we spare for that?

      • 0 avatar
        golden2husky

        Joeveto3, all those things you said are true, but one has to ask why does it have to be so? Dynamically, the Bimmers are great. But reliability, serviceability, and repair-ability are not mutually exclusive to good dynamics. Other than online, BMW is not called on all this nonsense; if anything it is worn as a badge (or should I say Roundel) of honor to be able to afford this treatment. Part of the reason why I can afford the treatment is to not buy products that need such treatment. I just can’t allow myself to feel violated like that. Yet I take my friend’s 330 out and come back all smiles. Kind of like “Other People’s Boats”

      • 0 avatar
        corntrollio

        “Great feedback, and that’s an excellent point about the premium gas requirement.”

        He was saying that a lot of people recommend top tier premium (toptiergas.com) instead of random-brand premium gas. I’d also recommend top tier regular for cars that require regular gas.

        But the number of people driving nice cars who are too cheap to spend the extra 18-20 cents on premium gas are hilarious. They should really be buying a different car. It was one thing when regular was, say, 99 cents/gallon and premium was 119 cents/gallon, because that’s 20%, but it’s really de minimis on $3.60/gallon gasoline.

      • 0 avatar
        mypoint02

        Good post joeveto3. As an owner of an E60 and E39, I can definitely relate and agree. I don’t really find BMW ownership to be as painful as everyone makes it out to be though, assuming you know how to do some of the maintenance yourself and have an honest independent mechanic for the rest. You’re a fool to take it to the dealer out of warranty.

        There’s no doubt that any BMW is more needy than most other options, but I can’t say I’d treat anything else much differently. There are a number of oil options that are on the LL-01 list that I would use regardless of what car I was driving – Mobil 1 0W40 for one. I order oil filters in bulk from Amazon and most of the other fluids and any replacement parts can be sourced from any number of online BMW/import part stores. Maybe it’s because I came from Audis where every job was such an enormous pain in the ass, but I find BMWs to be very easy to work on. My only gripe is the amount of computerization you have to deal with on the newer ones. Things like having to perform an adaptation when you replace the battery are annoying and unnecessary. Nonetheless, when you’re an enthusiast you tolerate more than you would if you didn’t care about cars. The problem is that far too many buy a BMW and treat it like a Toyota. It’d be a lot easier and less to worry about if I could just be happy driving a Camcord, but I know I wouldn’t be. Unlike most people, I look forward to driving.

        As far as the 320, it’s definitely something I’d consider. Especially if it’s detuned and underrated like the N54 powered 335 is. I’ll take mine with a 6 speed manual please.

      • 0 avatar
        mnm4ever

        @joeveto – excellent description of the ownership experience. But nothing you described is much different than my GTI, and really almost any “performance oriented” car.

        Personally, the 320 is just the kind of BMW I would consider, I was pretty impressed with the base 328 before. Turbos are always tunable, I bet this gets chipped within weeks of its introduction. I wonder if they will offer it with a stick? I like BMW driving dynamics, I just don’t like the price.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        @mannygg et al,

        Finally a little fresh air around here. I bought a 2011 328i 6spd wagon because it is a wonderful blend of sporting and practicality. I certainly don’t find the maintenance onerous, and I too go way “above and beyond” what BMW will pay for. In the Internet era, reasonably priced parts and fluids are but a web browse away, delivered right to your door.

        Are they perfect, no, nothing is. But I get the “joy” of driving lots and lots of Camcordtimas as rentals for work, and my BMW puts a gigantic smile on my face every time I drive it. If the qualities that make that happen don’t mean anything to you, count yourself lucky because you just saved ~$15K on your next car.

        Having owned a number of turbo Saabs I would be perfectly happy with a 184hp turbo 4 with a good spread of torque under the hood. I can’t use the 230hp I have in this country. The six is a peaky beast, max hp is AT the 7K redline, and it does not have a lot of low end torque. Fun, but a lot of work too. The new 4cyl turbo 328i absolutely annihilates my car in a straight line (and in fuel economy), at the expense of not sounding quite as nice. But with the stock exhaust you can’t really hear the six anyway (the BMW Performance Exhaust fixes that quite nicely). I would expect the 320i to be not THAT much slower. And I suspect the chips for it will be available about a week after the car is – since this engine is ALREADY on sale in Europe, and is quite commonly chipped. I wouldn’t bother, myself. Any car that can run with a Ferrari 308 is more than fast enough for me.

        Ultimately what amuses me the most is that the same whining complaints (too big, too heavy, ugly, the wrong people buy them for the wrong reasons)come out every single time BMW comes out with a new generation of cars. I swear, if you go back far enough people probably bitched about the 1600 having FOUR wheels and TWO doors when it replaced the Isetta! Such unnecessary complication! Of course 95% of those complaining would never buy one anyway.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        ” Part of the reason why I can afford the treatment is to not buy products that need such treatment.”

        This, this was my point. People buy a BMW because of the badge, then go on about the “driving dynamics” to cover up the pain they feel of a warning light/problem happening every 3 months. Why buy something you KNOW is going to take more maintenance than need be? I very much agree with the above, that good dynamics and lower-maintenance reliability CAN go hand in hand. BMW chooses not to do this any more (since what, probably 1999?) so I will never give them any of my money.

        People who lease BMWs say they have maintenance troubles, independent mechanics tell you not to buy them, and most people whom are non-owners (including me) know someone who’s got a broken BMW. It’s just those who are currently biting the bullet who try and cover it up.

      • 0 avatar
        mnm4ever

        @krhodes – +1, you nailed it. Like others, I miss the I6 engines, for a while that was a BMW trademark. But is is quite clear that for HP/MPG/emissions, everyone is going to smaller turbo engines, and there is no denying that the 328 with the turbo 4 feels faster than the older I6 328. For everyday use, it is a great engine. If the 320 drives anything like it, they will have a winner.

        @Corey (and everyone else whining about people buying BMW for the badge) – that’s a very narrow-minded opinion. Just because you do not value the driving dynamics and feel of a BMW (or really any car) over competitors doesn’t mean it isn’t there. I don’t own a BMW, I think they are overpriced, but I can clearly feel while driving them that they have some magic in the chassis that no one else has been able to duplicate. I felt the same way about my GTI over the other cars I tested, which is why I got it. I value that feel. This 320 is the first BMW I have been excited about in a long time, simply because the price is close to what I would consider reasonable. I have tried the competitors in that price range… they are fine cars, but they don’t have the same magic. I don’t buy cars because of how many doo-dads they include for the price, I could care less, and I don’t shop on price alone, just because something is cheaper doesn’t make it a better deal. Same with HP, 0-60, etc, driving a car isn’t all about numbers, just because the Genesis has RWD and more HP doesn’t automatically make it a better car. Ditto with leasing… I don’t lease, but I can see why some people would. Even if they do it because they want to drive a fancier car… who cares?? If they are going to trade in cars every 3 yrs anyways, why not get the best car for the monthly price, it doesn’t make any difference and it doesn’t make them a bad person because they don’t choose to be as fiscally conservative as you do on automobiles.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        @mnm

        You contradict yourself in your own argument. You say BMW’s are too expensive, then say you don’t shop based on price alone. Then you say you’re excited for this BMW, because it’s cheap enough to be considered reasonable. That’s an argument based on price.

        Buying an expensive car and negating any “doo dads” which are included defeats the purpose of buying a more expensive car.

        “Look I paid a ton for my car, and it has no options inside!”
        “Well what are you paying for then?”
        “The dynamics and high maintenance! It breaks all the time and I love it!”

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        As well, adding “who cares?” to most of your post does not advance the argument you’re trying to make. Finally, please show me where I indicated BMW owners are bad people.

        “I don’t judge cars based on price alone. The only reason I don’t have a BMW is because of price.” Circular.

      • 0 avatar
        mnm4ever

        @corey – reading comprehension is a good skill to have. I said I do not shop on price ALONE, you even quoted the word when you tried to say I contradict myself. I never said that price is not a factor, obviously price is always a factor except for the extremely wealthy. But just because I could buy a Ford/Hyundai/Honda/Lexus/etc for less doesn’t mean it is a better car for ME, maybe it is for others, but my point is we have choices for a reason.

        As for “doo-dads”, if you think the only reason to buy a more expensive car is to get those kind of things, fine, there are plenty of boring CamCordAtas that they load to the gills with silly electronic junk to keep you entertained. For me, yes, I would pay more for a car that delivers the driving experience I prefer, regardless of how many options it has. Once again, that is why we have choices.

      • 0 avatar
        mnm4ever

        You said that the only reason anyone buys a BMW is for the badge, and that there is no difference to the driving dynamics; that current owners make that up to justify buying a badge to show off. I summarized that by saying they are not bad people. And my point is that there is a difference in the dynamics, not even a subtle difference, its very clear to anyone who knows even a little bit about cars. That difference may not matter to most of the car buying public, or even to many of the BMW buyers who are just showing off the badge, but it is still there. And the quality/reliability question is subjective, but I will concede on that point, the Japanese definitely do reliability better, I am not so sure on the Koreans though as they haven’t had a long term record yet. But those cars still do not deliver the same driving experience that the Germans offer, so if that is important enough to someone, and they do not mind taking the chance or spending the extra money, I say again, who cares? I am glad we have the choice, and don’t all get stuck driving the same car as everyone else.

        And your obsession with circular logging is getting old. I said I do not shop on price alone, meaning there are other factors along with price that go into my consideration. That is common sense, and pretty much every shopper out there does the same thing. When I was shopping for my last car, I had a budget in mind and it did not stretch to new BMW price territory. I did not want a used one, YES, because I am aware they will cost more for maintenance and I was not ready to take that on. That does not mean I cannot comprehend why someone else in a different financial situation, or with different priorities, would choose a new or even used BMW. In the same manner, I would never ever consider buying a Cobalt, but I certainly can comprehend why someone else might choose one for their needs.

      • 0 avatar
        tjh8402

        @ Corey: as I said above, if you could find me another lightweight sedan with at least 6 ear pleasing cylinders, a sub 6 second 0-60, rwd, high 20′s highway fuel economy, good manual transmission, high quality interior, that will carry my stuff or seat 4 adults, and that won’t fall apart over a couple hundred miles, I would have been happy to look at it whether or not it had a roundel, a bow tie, or a drunken H doodle. The closest alternative that I could find was the G35, but it didn’t drive as sweet as the bimmer, and I drove too many that felt like the structure was falling apart before they ever got to 150k miles, whereas every BMW felt solid, no matter how many miles were on it, and either way, Infiniti is still a premium and therefore snob brand in your book.

        This is not my family’s first BMW. My dad has an e36 328i. I knew darn well what I was getting into maintenance-wise with my car. I knew it was going to require more regular work. You ask why buy something that I know was going require more maintenance? Because the fact that every time I drive anywhere, the feel of that steering, the eerily smooth yet planted and firm ride, the sublime handling, the buttery gearbox, and the growl of that glorious straight six make it all worth it, even though it spends more time in the shop and costs me more $ than a Corolla would.

        I test drove a shit ton of cars. Everything from new Focii, Golfs, GTis, Mazda 3s, and Mustang GTs ,to used TSX’s (both generations), Integras, Accords (v-6 stick shift), G35′s, Q45′s, M45′s (both gen), G37, M35′s, and Caddy STS’s. I also drove every e46 and e90 model save the e90 M3 which I knew I couldn’t afford. Thanks to working 5 years at an airport job that required me to reposition rental cars around the airport, I had the chance to flog pretty much every new model offered by a mainstream car maker in the last 5 years. So when I say the BMW drives different, I’m speaking from experience here.

        I bought my car because for $12.5k, a well maintained with records 2004 BMW 330i zhp with 100k miles was gonna give me unmatched value and driving pleasure (without sacrificing comfort and utility – sorry S2000 and Miata). The only two cars I drove that I still truly pine for are the 5.0 Mustang GT and the e46 M3, and in both cases they just didn’t seem worth the added expense vs what I got at this time.

        There is another factor to consider in ownership costs – insurance. I have a clean record, but a Honda/Acura product such as the RSX, TSX, Integra, or Accord would have been hundreds of $ more per year to insure than my BMW, a G35, or even a Mustang GT. This could be because of my demographic profile (28 year old male) or because in the area I live, Honda/Acuras are often both street raced and stolen. I never considered Toyotas but I doubt they would have been much better.

        Oh and my indepenent mechanic didn’t recommend against it. In fact, he was very supportive. He knows that I knew cars, I knew what I was getting into, and that I would take good care of her.

  • avatar
    Dave M.

    I concur with MannyGG! Half the fun of any BMW are it’s driving dynamics… the turbo 4 is certainly more powerful than the 325 and 328 of a few years ago.

    When I bought my Saab convertible I looked closely at the 1 series, but didn’t like that you had to take a 6. I prefer 4s……

    Are y’all upset because the only thing BMW should sell are M series? Just cars? Never to non-enthusiasts? I don’t get the snark….

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      I personally have never really found a 4 pot/auto I actually enjoyed driving, manuals are a different story (although I have no real exposure to Saabs). Its one thing to say I need basic and/or reliable transportation so the number of cylinders is irrelevant. But BMWs are neither basic or reliable, they are toys. Toys should come with everything being a step up. I have had plenty of exposure with turbo Volvos (740s, early S40 T5s), turbo was Volvo for we don’t have a V6… for BMW to go in the turbo-4 direction is phoning it in IMO.

      • 0 avatar
        Vega

        Unfortunately, it’s the future. Not for laziness, but for mpg…

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        Cars with just enough power for the sake of fuel economy are not the “future” they are the past. Could this be the start of a new malaise era?

        I also found this article which gives you a little more technical data. They found:

        Oddly enough, despite the lower output, BMW’s expected fuel economy for the 320i equipped with rear-wheel-drive and the eight-speed automatic transmission actually matches that of the current 328i with 23 miles per gallon city and 33 mpg highway, and those numbers are actually lower than the 328i with the manual gearbox.

        http://www.autoblog dot com/2013/01/14/2014-bmw-320i-detroit-2013/

      • 0 avatar
        corntrollio

        “Cars with just enough power for the sake of fuel economy are not the “future” they are the past. Could this be the start of a new malaise era?”

        Wow, we’ve gotten spoiled by modern vehicles. A car with 180 hp and 200 lb-ft of torque, 0-60 in 7.1 seconds, top speed of 130 mph, and 22 mpg city/34 hwy with 6-speed and 23/33 for the 8-speed auto is somehow a Neo Malaise model?

        That’s faster 0-60 than a 1979 or 1980 Corvette, which I believe are among the speediest of the Malaise Corvettes, and they got 13/19 or 13/20 probably. I believe the 1973 (released in 1972) was under 7 seconds, and the 1984 might have been 7 flat, but the 1985 was faster. That’s not the Malaise era I remember with my fancy 150 hp 5.0 V8 Panther that hit 60 in 11+ seconds and got between 10 and 15 mpg combined in real life.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        Agreed corntrollio, we’ve gotten spoiled. But when V8s push 400+ hp and V6s can routinely put out 300+ hp (albeit at very high rpms), 180hp from a BMW no less seems adequate but lacking from a supposed performance brand.

  • avatar
    racer-esq.

    Give cheap BMWs a break. They have traditionally been purchased by two very different sets of people:

    1) Badge snobs.
    2) People that want rear wheel drive performance cars without the weight and cost of superfluous options, and with power that can be fully used on regular roads (i.e. slow car fast).

    Group 2 now has a good reason to avoid this car, since Hyundai will sell anyone a Genesis Coupe with a similar direct injection 2 liter turbo, except with 90 more HP, a 6 speed manual, a very similar strut/multilink suspension and a track pack for about $7,000 less. And the Hyundai will be more reliable. Or there is the FR-S/BRZ.

    But some people will claim to need a sedan, and BMW is going to offer this with a 6 speed manual.

    Chances of finding a 320i with a 6 speed manual and no options on dealer lots? Zero. But hey, if you order your BMW instead you can choose delivery in Germany.

    • 0 avatar
      wsn

      Most of the two groups overlap. They say they like BMW because of the driving dynamics, but deep down, it’s the badge. They simply won’t consider another brand, even if it’s better. For instance, acceleration is the single most important factor in driving dynamics, but a BMW 318 is simply too slow as compared to similarly priced cars from Acura/Subaru etc.

      • 0 avatar
        Vega

        Acceleration is the single most important factor in driving dynamics? That is the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard. If you really believe that, BMW is not the car for you. Just buy a Mustang V6 then. 300hp, 0-60 in 5.8 sec., $22k.

      • 0 avatar
        corntrollio

        Yes, clearly my friend with a 1980 320i with crank windows and crank sunroof is a BMW-poseur and a badge-whore because of his car’s 2.0L 4-cylinder engine.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        In 1996, I rented two cars back to back. The first was a Plymouth Breeze with unexpectedly good handling, ride, seats, and steering. It basically had next to no engine, with a SOHC Neon 2 liter connected to an automatic in a car the size of an Accord. The second was a Buick Century(A-body runout model) with a V6 that sounded nice and produced 160 hp/185 ft/lbs of torque. It didn’t have seats, just benches. It didn’t have shocks, judging by the way it bounced for a few seconds even after I parked it with less than 100 miles on the odometer. It barely had tires. I disagree that acceleration is more important than anything else when it comes to driving dynamics.

      • 0 avatar
        wsn

        @Vega

        The way I define handling is the capability to move. Forward, break, turn left, turn right. Handling is useless, if there is no speed/acceleration to handle.

        @CJinSD

        There is no point to side track to 1996. It will only lower your credibility.

        The context here is pretty clear. The BMW 320 is directly competing with IS250 and G25. The Bimmer is believed by many to possess better handling. I propose that the IS250/G25 would actually handle better overall because of the better acceleration. It’s that simple.

      • 0 avatar
        golden2husky

        …..Most of the two groups overlap. They say they like BMW because of the driving dynamics, but deep down, it’s the badge. They simply won’t consider another brand, even if it’s better……TRUE

        For instance, acceleration is the single most important factor in driving dynamics……… Uh, no.

    • 0 avatar
      ihatetrees

      @racer-esq.
      Here in snow belt country, I know 2 in your category 1 (Bimmer Badge Snob) demographic who seem semi-regretful. Especially after a trip to the dealer for a winter tire swap.

      BMW’s are great cars and I’d like to own one (as a keeper) someday. But an out of warranty keeper requires extended relationships with tools and a mechanic.

      • 0 avatar
        mnm4ever

        But it isn’t as if winter tires cost more for BMW than for other cars, that just based on rim size. And they don’t have to go to the dealer for that, any tire shop can do it, more than likely for less money.

  • avatar
    Theophilus138

    Are you sure that the 320i is turbocharged? BMW Canada’s website doesn’t directly indicate whether or not a car is turbocharged, but it does say that the 320i has an 11:1 compression ratio, higher than the 10:1 it quotes for the 328i, and higher than any of BMW’s other turbocharged gasoline engines. If you’re going to drop 60 horsepower and no displacement I don’t see why you’d keep the extra complication of a turbocharging setup.

    • 0 avatar
      PartsUnknown

      For a number of years, Saab sold a high-output 2.3 liter turbo 4 (250 hp) and a light-pressure turbo version of the same engine (185 hp). So it’s been done. I believe Volvo offered a similar combo for a time as well.

      • 0 avatar
        Theophilus138

        Low-pressure turbo setups are possible, but a little quick Googling would suggest that if BMW has managed to build a turbocharged gasoline engine with an 11:1 compression ratio it would be a major feat of engineering. Even the 10.2:1 compression ratio of the N55 engine (_35i BMWs) is remarkably high for a turbo motor.

      • 0 avatar
        bumpy ii

        Direct injection gives 2-4 more points of compression ratio to play with, so 11:1 isn’t particularly outrageous for a milder turbo.

    • 0 avatar
      racer-esq.

      It’s par for the course that the company that doesn’t put dipsticks in its cars anymore also considers whether a car is turbocharged to be an unnecessary specification to publish. But the fact that BMW is reporting 184 lb-ft of torque for the engine makes it almost impossible that it is naturally aspirated. That would be a huge amount of torque for a naturally aspirated 2 liter.

      The turbo adds complexity, but also delivers the aforementioned torque. This car will be much quicker than it would be with an 181 HP naturally aspirated 2 liter engine.

      It would have been interesting is if BMW offered its 1.5 liter inline-3 turbo engine in this car. BMW has reported getting HP and torque numbers in the 180s out of that engine. I guess that a 3-banger is more than BMW thinks a 3-series buyer can take. But less weight up front would have given the car better handling.

      • 0 avatar
        PartsUnknown

        A little Googling reveals that this car is indeed turbocharged, at least according to the Wall Street Journal.

      • 0 avatar
        Vega

        Par for the course my ass. Official press release: ‘the new BMW 320i packs a content-rich punch in the marketplace for premium compact sport sedans. Sporting a 180-horsepower TwinPower Turbo 4-cylinder engine, the new BMW 320i Sedan goes on sale in late-Spring 2013.’

      • 0 avatar
        racer-esq.

        Re Vega: BMW does not think its customers, at least Canadian ones, care whether the BMW 320i has a turbo. That specification is not included on the bmw.ca site, even though build your own is fully up for the 320i on the BMW Canada site. That is par for the course, since BMW also assumes that its customers do not care about their oil levels. Apparently, based on the press release, BMW does think auto journalists care.

  • avatar
    Dimwit

    Where’s the diesel?

  • avatar
    Stumpaster

    If because of this car there are fewer G25s and IS25s on the road, I am all for it, just for the sake of keeping our highways beautiful.

    Good to hear the pseudo-snobbery is alive and well even here on TTAC – this car has enough power to exceed all speed limits.

  • avatar
    toomanycrayons

    “And the unbearable stigma of the 320i badge.”

    It’s the unbearable stickiness of the standard rubberette seats that puts me off. It isn’t always January here in Ontario.

  • avatar
    Toad

    I’d argue that most of people leasing a BMW 3 series will never drive it beyond 5/10ths, and would be just has happy with the driving dynamics of a Honda Accord. The only reason they have a BMW is so they can be seen in or tell people about their BMW.

    Put a the drivetrain and suspension of any CamCord under the body and most 3 series (or Mercedes C class) customers would never know the difference.

    • 0 avatar
      CelticPete

      You do not need to push FWD or RWD cars to feel the difference going around a corner. Just add gas earlier in the turn and you will feel the difference. Pushing the car to the limits is not neeeded.

      I would agrue the opposite actually. A professional driver can make a higher horsepower FWD faster around the track. But they can’t change that the feel inferior for everyday drivers – even if they don’t understand the intellectual reasons why..

      • 0 avatar
        Toad

        How many professional drivers are going to buy or lease a 320?

        Far more toy dogs will sit in 320′s on the way to the mall than professional drivers using the car at a track. YOU can tell the difference, but the thousands of girls driving it to Starbucks don’t care. Aside from the badges they could be just as happy in a Corolla.

        All that said, it’s really none of my business what other people drive. Whatever makes them happy.

  • avatar

    I’d rather just buy a pre-owned 328i or 335i in a couple of years…

  • avatar
    tjh8402

    A 320d would have been way more impressive. That fuel economy is disappointing for that engine. Unless you must have the space, the current 128i costs almost the same and delivers more power, with the right engine (normally aspirated straight six) for not a huge fuel economy penalty. All BMW enthusiasts want to see the e30 and 2002 put back into production. The F30, even with a small turbo 4 cylinder, is way too big and heavy to be considered an heir to that throne. I’d say the 1 series is still too large. As a BMW fan blog pointed out years ago, the car on the market that most closely matches the specs in terms of dimensions, power, and performance features of the e30 M3 is the Toyobaru, the edge going to the M3 in total power thanks to its slightly larger engine. Ironically, if you could actually find one, a mint ultra low mileage E30 M3 would probably cost you the same as a BRZ today, if not more. The Toyobaru was a car that should’ve been the 1 series (with a different engine) if BMW still cared about making the Ultimate Driving Machine.

    • 0 avatar

      Exactly. I drove a 320d for a week last summer, and it was a true left lane car on the Autobahn, with no excuses. It didn’t have the same “twinkle toes” feel on tight back roads as my 330i, but it got 49 miles per (admittedly imperial) gallon, and with the huge torque at speed, you weren’t sad.

      This motor would hook nicely to an automatic for the know nothing lessor, and was very, very nice with a six speed.

      BMW has to do something. The new 328i has the price point of the prior 330i, and the new 335i has the price point of the prior M3. The 1 does not fill the void in the US, it’s just too small for our market. (I liked the five door ones all over Europe…I didn’t see a SINGLE 1 coupe over there-but the five doors would compete with the Mini in our market.)

      While pricing the current 328, seat heaters were a 3k option, and a pass through for the seats was part of another 1.5k or so package..all of which are lots cheaper on other cars. I’m curious to see how this is optioned.

      If they brought in the 320d, my Golf TDi would be a BMW.

    • 0 avatar
      corntrollio

      Apparently a lot of the enthusiasts and so-called purists have forgotten that the E30 M3 had a 2.3L four cylinder with 192 hp. Even though it would only just beat this 2013 320i to 60 (6.9 seconds for the E30 M3, 7.1 for this 320i), it is widely considered one of the best driver vehicles ever.

      Seems all of the enthusiasts and purists have forgotten that the M3 didn’t always have a V8.

      • 0 avatar
        tjh8402

        @ corntrollio

        I have not forgotten that. I’m not a fan of 4 cylinders in general. Assuming no weight or driving dynamic penalty, I think any car is better with a good six than a good 4. That being said, the e30 was a very different car than the f30. The e30 was a 2700 lb car smaller than a new Civic and as I said, delivers a feel and experience much more like the FR-S/BRZ, as well as a Miata, GTi, or Mini. A buzzy unrefined 4 cylinder is not out of place there and is in keeping with the character of a car, even if an I6 would be smoother and sound better. I’ve heard many people who love the E30 M3 still complain about the harshness and lack of refinement of that engine.

        Personally my favorite M is the e46 M3. Its still a raw visceral scary car like an M should be, and has that glorious screamer of an engine.

        As far as the 320i goes, I have no problem with the power level. if this car had a 2.5 I6 instead of the turbo 4 making the same hp, theres a good chance it would be my next car since Infiniti has taken away the only attractive alternative, although that depends on how awful that EPS really is and how much the driving experience has been numbed. The F30 seems to be pretty much universally agreed to be worse than the e90, which I test drove a lot of, and I thought the E90 was not as good as the E46, which is why I now own an e46.

  • avatar
    Volt 230

    Bring back the 318I or the 2002 thanks!

  • avatar
    Conslaw

    I could bear the stigma of this.

  • avatar
    mvlbr

    Do people with Bimmers really care about gas mileage? If they did we’d see a lot more 335d. This will definitely be for the lease specials and most likely be made in Mexico.

  • avatar
    CelticPete

    These cars drive alot better then the equivalent FWD Japanese/Domestic cars. RWD cars feel ‘sweet’ driving around corners – FWD cars punish you.

    I’d argue just the opposite – the modern German cars/domestic cars have used economies of scale to make the reliability issue less of a factor while at the same time they absolutely driver sweeter – even with an auto.

    • 0 avatar
      wsn

      Obviously from someone who don’t understand how brands compete.

      The direct Japanese competition to this car would be Lexus IS250 and Infiniti G25. As compared to the 320, both 2.5L are RWD, faster, more reliable, handles well, and not any more expensive, especially after buying.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    The base engine in the US-market Audi A4 is a 2.0-liter turbo four.

    The base engine in the US-market Mercedes C250 is a 1.8-liter turbo four.

    BMW established its US presence with four-cylinder cars such as the 2002 and the E21 3-series.

    With $3-4 gas in the US, does it surprise anyone that BMW is selling a model that is comparable to their direct competition? If anything, I would say that to doing otherwise would have been a mistake.

    • 0 avatar
      TTACFanatic

      … but BMW already has a 2.0 liter turbo … that produces unremarkable horsepower; now it’ll have two.

      Does anyone else see a problem with adding the complexity of a turbo for what seemingly amounts to 20 HP and 40 lb-ft of torque?

      • 0 avatar
        jmo

        Every car I’ve had for the past 15 has been a 4-cyl turbo and I’ve never had a problem with it.

        Also, the issue is more than “20 HP and 40 lb-ft of torque” it’s also having the torque available at 1500 rpm vs. 4500 rpm – it makes a huge difference in driveability.

      • 0 avatar
        fvfvsix

        I’ve spent a week in a 328. Let me tell you that the power and torque the 2.0 produces is far from unremarkable. Feel free to share your experience with the car.

    • 0 avatar
      TTACFanatic

      @jmo

      Maybe I just don’t see the point in selling a 2.0 liter turbo in 2013 that would be right at home in a MK4 GTI.

      • 0 avatar
        jmo

        Maybe I just don’t see the point in selling a 2.0 liter turbo in 2013 that would be right at home in a MK4 GTI.

        Can’t imagine what you think of the Mercedes S-250.

        http://www.topspeed.com/cars/mercedes/2011-mercedes-s250-cdi-blueefficiency-ar97420.html

    • 0 avatar
      TTACFanatic

      @jmo

      I not a fan of Benz’s in general but comparing a diesel to a gas engine is apple to oranges … but I’ll let it fly.

      That is a small 2 liter turbo diesel that is getting more horsepower than this new BMW turbo gas engine.

      Maybe I’m just pissed at BMW’s forced stratification. The 2L turbo four in the 320 can’t make a reasonable amount of HP (~200) because then no one will but the 2L turbo four in the 328 which has to be relatively low in horsepower or no one will buy the 335. The engine’s keep getting shittier while the price keeps going up.

      Let’s put it another way … if any other manufacturer ( lets say Honda) put out a 2.0 liter turbo four with 180 HP you’d think it was the dumbest move in history.

  • avatar
    jmo

    $32,000 320i or a $33,430 Accord V-6 Touring…? I think any number of perfectly rational people could evaluate both cars and come away preferring either vehicle.

    I’ll compare two past work vehicles. A Mercedes C-240 and a Toyota Avalon.

    With the C-240 you’d pull away from a stoplight with a very elegant whoosh and the ride and handling were superlative. The way it reacted to a pothole was sublime. The car was small, slow and it didn’t have many options.

    The Avalon on the other had was huge, much much faster and it road very smoothly. However, if you you gave it slightly too much gas, one front tire would break free and you’d get the most fearsome axle hop and the front end shudder violently until the traction control kicked in. Also, while the ride was as almost as smooth as the Mercedes the handling was terrible.

    So, long story short a compelling case can be made for both vehicles. And, it’s certainly possible to favor a car for reasons other than badge snobbery.

  • avatar
    E46M3_333

    This is great, until you get smoked on the boulevard by a Indian housewife in a V6 Camry.

    Always buy the biggest engine, I say. That’s why I drive an M3 and am in the process of buying a pre-owned X5 in V8 trim.

  • avatar
    julkinen

    My daily driver is one of the cheapest BMWs possible, a 1995 E34 518i. White. Stick. Manual windows. No A/C. No rear door ashtrays. The engine in it is the 1.8-litre M43 four, chain instead of cambelt and with 115 horsepower. The whole car was specified to barely undercut a certain price point, for fleets to buy.

    I love it for its glorious baseness. There are as few things as possible to go wrong in it, yet I get to enjoy the well-honed E34 chassis and manage 35mpg on the highway. Don’t get me wrong, I’d happily get a 540iA any day for twice-thrice the money; but while the 518i can be winter-driven (with gusto) on a daily basis, without worrying of a single component to fail, a fully loaded 540iA would always be a Sunday car in summertime.
    Besides, with the late-model E34:s all bearing the wide-kidneyed grille, there’s little to distinguish it from a V8 one visually.

  • avatar
    gakoenig

    So, BMW delivers a super nice car, with intrinsic build quality, design details, ergonomics, fit and finish that is unquestionably very nice, at a reasonable price… and it is somehow the nail in the brand’s coffin?

    So it’s a 320i, with *only* 200bhp. Who cares? For the vast majority of car owners, that 200bhp is going to be plenty of power to be fun on the occasional back road and it won’t matter one iota for the other 99% of the time when they are stuck in traffic or waiting at a suburban intersection to pull into the Chipotle.

    So, why go BMW? Well, perhaps because everything about it is actually pretty nice?

    I drive a 2012 X5. Everything about it is executed perfectly (with one or two minor quibbles). I’m stuck driving around town a lot for my work (meetings, production line trouble shooting, picking up parts) and sitting in the X5 for a couple of hours all day, well… it’s just a very nice place to be compared to my other vehicles (the girlfriend’s Jeep JK or my Toyota FJ). Everything works the way it should, all the interior components are well made, the iDrive system is pretty cool and it is pretty obvious that BMW’s designers and engineers are damn good at what they do.

    On top of that, my dealership experience has been fantastic. I got the X5 for $500 over invoice, plus another $1k off for my BMW CCA membership, plus $4500 off for it being a diesel, plus $1000 off for being a current BMW driver. The service department takes fantastic care of me with really nice loaner cars and no guff. Hell, I took my previous E90 325i on two back to back track weekends, and the dealership didn’t just NOT give me guff about replacing the brakes under the maintenance program, they asked me how my lap times were doing with the E90! The X5 has never had a problem.

    Hyundai, Kia and all the other asian brands are absolutely on a tear when it comes to content for dollar, and they have done a tremendous job of building highly reliable cars. Even so, it’s hard to call the experience of owning one very premium, and when you get down to asking questions about the intrinsic haptic quality or focused engineering that adds up to the thing actually being a pleasure to own, I don’t think they hit the mark the way the Germans possibly can.

    Sure, the race to define what makes a BMW so much better has become a bit more etherial now that Hyundai and the like are doing so well and they seem to be ticking all the same boxes for vastly different prices. Having said that, sit in both cars back to back, and it immediately becomes obvious that there is a lot more to the story.

    • 0 avatar
      E46M3_333

      Well said. Many people think BMWs are about conspicuous consumption. I submit these people have never owned one. I’m on my 5th BMW and don’t see myself driving anything else. Mine have all been bulletproof, and while service is expense, they don’t need service very often.

      • 0 avatar
        NMGOM

        E46M3_333 and gakoenig….

        I really tune in to what you are saying. I have two BMW’s: a 2006 “vanilla” 325i and a “loaded” 2007 Z4 (avatar above).

        Since my getting them, there has been nothing wrong with either one. Nothing, Nada. Zero. Zip.

        For me, the motive for purchase of the first (325i) was simply performance reputation in handling and cornering, from my memory in Germany in the late 1960′s. This is not really a luxury car by any stretch, but a very well crafted, jeweled machine. The precision is awesome, and sometimes I just enjoy going out to the garage to sit in it. I even like the smell of it. I know that sounds weird. It’s like a work of art done in 3D sculpture that also happens to move on wheels, and move very well indeed.

        The motive for purchase of the second one (Z4, CPO) was that the first one wasn’t fully “sporty” enough! Needless to say, the Z4 solved that problem big time. I did not care about the “roundel effect”, although some people are afflicted with it. I could just as easily have gotten a Porsche Boxster, my next choice.

        In neither situation did ANY Japanese, Korean, British, or American car even come close to attracting me. The Boys in Munich had hit the nail right on the head, at least historically. Pure, ultimate reliability (Japanese cars) typically means use of older boring technologies, and BMW has always pushed the technology envelope, so one thing to remember is: yes, you will eventually pay for that when replacement parts are needed. If that bothers you, get a Honda.

        But BMW is a modern corporation with growth and profits in mind as well. And, yes, like it or not, they are foregoing some of their heritage, as are others such as Porsche and Mercedes. But my view is this: if Porsche has to make and sell a Panamera or Cayenne to fund R&D for my new Boxster, then, by all means, go for it! The same is true of the new FWD BMW’s, which was a real culture shock for me. But Dr Norbert Reithofer (CEO, BMW) said that 80% of people surveyed in Germany (!), could NOT tell which wheels did the driving anyway. So, even in Germany, a car is becoming an appliance!

        I certainly can tell which wheels do the driving, and that 50/50 weight distribution makes all the difference in the world in cornering, emergency maneuvering, and braking,…especially as one approaches higher speeds. As for me, it’s a manual transmission and RWD all the way!

        ————–

    • 0 avatar

      +1 My e46 had two minor issues, both fixed by dealer with no hassles. My Acura MDX has had a string of stupidity followed by dealer attempting to charge me (more than once) for warranty work, and then screwing up that warranty work requiring multiple trips back. Based on my one data point Hondas suck and BMW’s are bulletproof.

      YMMV

    • 0 avatar
      Tick

      +1

      LOVED my 2000 M Roadster and miss her dearly. LOVE driving my wife’s X3. There’s a reason people pay a premium for a BMW or Merc. If there wasn’t a difference, people wouldn’t pay it. Simple as that. Funny how the market works, huh.

  • avatar
    hachee

    The debates about how BMW has changed are as endless as those about Honda, Mercedes and plenty of other companies.

    How I wish BWM was still what it was when I was a kid, a company with a narrow focus that catered to enthusiasts. Or at least that was its angle and what distinguished it from Mercedes. Now both companies have evolved in mostly ways that I don’t love, but that’s the way it is. BMW, for better or worse, has changed its offerings to massively broaden its appeal. They’d never sell nearly as many without all the stuff and the softer driving characteristics. I’ve accepted this, and in some ways I’m okay with this, but one day they’ll probably be so indistinguishable from the rest that the momemtum will go the other way.

    I have no problem with the ever-growing range and size/weight of the models. As someone else said, just add 2 digits to the model number, and today’s 3 is a 5. And it’s a great 5, at a very reasonable price, compared to where the 5 was priced 20 years ago.

    Today’s 3 sells so many because of the image, yes, but also because that’s where the volume is. The 1-Series is much closer to the old 3, and probably sells a lot like the 3 did 25 years ago – i.e., not nearly as many. Sure, I hope the next 1 and 2 Series are better looking, because that’s really (IMO) the only problem with the 1 Series. The new 1 coupe (to be called 2, i believe), looks very promising. Maybe this will really be the heir to 3′s of old.

    As for the 3 series in general, 75% of the buyers would not even know what’s under the hood, and most of these would drive the 320i and never once think it’s slow. What dissapoints me most is the disappearance of the NA straight six. IMO, there’s nothing like it, and it’s what I like most about my E46 325ix. It’s not super fast, but it’s sufficiently powerful. It’s the “feel,” and it’s what keeps me in it. Perhaps if I used the car a lot (it’s 9 years old and has 35K miles), I might be out of it now, and I’d be hard-pressed to choose something else.

    • 0 avatar
      tjh8402

      hachee I think you really sum this up well. It’s depressing really. I remember being in middle and high school reading the C/D, MT, R&T, and dreaming of owning a 3 series or 3 series type of vehicle one day. I remember reading about my current ride, an e46 330i zhp when it came out, and how amazing it is to now be driving it; literally a dream come true. I’ve stopped subscribing to the magazines, not because of the things this site likes to call them out for, but because the cars are more often then not the sorts of things I have any interest in buying. If I had to pick a moment when I started losing interest, it was the year that the Toyota Prius got both MT COTY and C/D 10best. Back to BMW, I wish they would do like Ford does with the Ecoboost engines and offer it alongside its less efficient larger NA counterpart. Where I diverge from you is over your optimism on the future of the 1 and 2 series, only because from what I’ve read, they’re likely going to be FWD.

      • 0 avatar
        hachee

        From what I understand, there’s a new coupe coming (supposedly to be called a 2-Series) that will be built off the current (second generation) 1 Series. This will be RWD.

        It’s the NEXT (3rd gen) 1 Series that is supposed to be FWD.

      • 0 avatar
        tjh8402

        @hachee Do you have a link for the info? That would be great news if BMW is planning a sub 3 series model thats still RWD. I thought the 2 series was supposed to simply be a coupe version of the next gen FWD 1 series, just like the 4 series is a coupe version of the 3.

      • 0 avatar
        hachee

        try this link. if it doesn’t work, just google 2-Series Spy shots. A bunch of things will pop up. You’ll see that the 2 will be built off the current 1, which is RWD. It’s the NEXT 1 (3rd gen, coming in a few more years), that will be FWD, and I suppose we’ll need to see if future 2′s will be FWD or RWD.

      • 0 avatar
        tjh8402

        @ Hachee. The link didn’t work but google was my friend there. It’s good to see that the RWD chassis is staying. That being said, while I should have expected the NA 6 to be going, it’s still disappointing to see the most affordable 6 cylinder BMW going away. Looks like I’ll have one more year to try to save up for Euro delivery of a new BMW cause once the current 128i goes away, there’s likely not much else to interest me that I can afford brand new. Unless they also offer a RWD 1 series sedan or hatchback to go along with it or put this car on a serious diet to get it under 3000 lbs, its gonna have to have some really really impressive driving dyanmics, or conversely, I’ll have to be seriously disappointed with the Genesis Coupe to choose a 4 cylinder over a 6. It doesn’t mention if the car will be keeping the current hydraulic steering or switching to the new EPS or not, but I’m assuming it will switch to EPS which does not bode well.

  • avatar
    Acd

    How soon until BMW Finance launches its own sub-prime unit so the parent company can continue to grow sales? Welcome Bayerische Unter-Finanzieren!

  • avatar
    glwillia

    Wow, this is the first new BMW in quite some time I’m actually excited about. Vinyl seats, manual transmission, lighter front end, and less trouble-prone electronics and “features” I don’t need and don’t want to pay out the ass for.

  • avatar
    FJ60LandCruiser

    How much cheaper are we talking about here? Lease costs can blur the prices together.

    …if I could BUY a no-nonsense 3 series sedan for 33.5k… now you have my interest.

    If you’re talking about saving a few bucks a month on a cheap-o lease.

    Meh.

  • avatar
    hachee

    It’s amazing how so many people bash leasing. First of all, why does anyone care how someone chooses to spend money on a car? Second, people talk about BMW offering cheap leases to get people into their cars, as if they’re subsidizing them at the expense of profits. Call it whatever you want – high list prices offered with big discounts, whatever – but does anyone think BMW is losing money on these? If they were, they wouldn’t keep doing it. And I’m pretty sure that the low and midrange BMWs still have pretty good resale value, which enables BMW to set high residuals which lead to lower lease prices.

    It’s really up to the individual to decide how they want to spend their money and to decide whether they get good value from it.

    I lease one car, my X5 diesel, because that works for me. My other car I bought (3 years used), and the truth is, had I sold it already, it would have cost me pretty much the same as if I had leased, and continued to lease, a new one. If you keep a car for more than 5 years, it probably pays to buy, just barely after 5. But now I’ve got a 9 year old car, and that’s fine for me. If you’re the type that wants new, leasing usually makes as much sense (or lack thereof) as buying.

    • 0 avatar
      FJ60LandCruiser

      My wife isn’t that gentle on cars… I wouldn’t walk away from a German lease unschathed. They rip you apart on every ding, scratch, carpet stain, etc.

      I prefer to own the cars I have, not worry if I’m going to be punished for it later by some jackass with a clipboard.

      • 0 avatar
        hachee

        And that’s a very good reason to own, if you’re going to keep the car and don’t “care” that it has some dings and scratches.

        I personally never had any kind of problems with excessive wear on leases…until now. In fact, I was just saying that I wish I had bought my car, because my wife just had a minor accident which will cost about $3500 to repair, and it’s nothing but a few scratches and a small tear in the front bumper…which means they need to replace it (the cover), paint, etc., and which means an insurance claim. And this is not the first time. If I didn’t have to return the car in another year, I’d leave it – it’s barely noticable. Add a few dings caused by kids opening doors, and I am not looking forward to the inspection.

        But the truth is while I love the X5d, I would not want to own it years down the road, out of warranty. I’m beginning to think a 3 year old Highlander is the way to go, and run it into the ground. But the “enthusiast” in me just likes the way the X5 drives, even if I don’t drive it much.

    • 0 avatar
      BrunoT

      Perhaps they’re tired of an entire generation of entitled people voting money out of their pockets to pay for things they should have saved or set aside money for themselves? (retirement, college, health care, disability insurance, etc) and the idea of a BMW driver enjoying his leased ride while relying on taxpayers for the other stuff galls them?

      Or maybe they were sickened by an entire economy that over-borrowed and overspent, with the resulting economic crash and bank bailouts that went to favored friends because of that excessive debt when nobody could pay their debts back? Or the unemployment insurance extensions they have to pay for because nobody believes in saving for a rainy day anymore? Or the massive rise in SS disability claims from people who just can’t find a job and have no savings?

      You may be responsible and use leasing as a convenience. But the vast majority use it to drive more car than they can really afford, as if it’s financial alchemy. When I read BMW forum posts from guys who hope to “stretch” another $30/month on their lease deal and get the bigger engine, urged on by their fellow status-seekers, I happen to want to vomit all over their new leased car.

  • avatar
    hurls

    I must just be an oddball, because I’ve never owned a car with more than 200 HP and it hasn’t bothered me a bit. My e36 had less than 200HP, my current e46 has less, my Miata has less, my older BMWs (2002 and Bavaria) had less. Still have a load of fun driving them. My wife’s last two cars >200 HP and yeah, they accelerate faster and I like that, but they’re not any faster on the mountain roads I like to drive here in San Diego. Go figure.

    I’d be more worried about the longevity of the DI Turbo, mainly b/c I already own an Audi DI Turbo that I have to worry about… no sense sweating that on two cars :)

    • 0 avatar
      CelticPete

      BMW is likely underrating that turbo. The one in the 328i makes 270 easy..according the to dynos I have seen. It’s very quick. So the 320i would be pretty tempting if its just a tune away from this.

      BMW might attract the wrong crowd but their cars drive really sweet. Its not exactly shocking news but people put up with german cars for reason.. WHen it comes to ergonomics and driving dynamics they are very very good.

      I am 6’5″ and the amount of roomy comfy Japanese cars isn’t a huge list. Go drive a BMW before you hate on em..

  • avatar
    MinPVD

    you know…bmw actually would really like everyone to to drive bmws…

    the old 318s were fine cars.

    It’s great that they are bringing the small engines back.

    bmws for everybody.

  • avatar
    thebanker

    I think it makes perfect sense for BMW to have a product like this. The people who read TTAC are not the intended market. Women, old people, and guys who don’t care about performance will snap up 320i’s in droves.

    I’m thinking of the 318ti here, or the Mercedes C240 hatchback. It’s not the ultimate driving machine, but it is a good entry-level luxury-ish car.

    In Orange County, CA, I expect to see MANY of these.

  • avatar
    PeterW

    Unbearable stigma of the 320i badge?

    Good grief.

  • avatar
    GST

    320i Owner.

    Purchased, not leased. First BMW worth the money in my estimation. (lots of readers are going to hate that) Now have 5,000 miles on it. Most from a road trip when car was one week old. Seattle/Walla Walla/Pendelton/Winnemucka/Las Vegas/Palm Springs and return to Seattle via San Francisco. Amazing driving in Eastern Oregon. Driving dynamics did not disappoint. I was also able to drive all day for days in a row with little fatigue. (am age 70). Car has sport or ecomomy settings. Used sport in hills, ecomomy on straigths. Got 38 mpg to Palm Springs, 37 back to Seattle on I-5. Sure am glad they came out with this model. Everyone who rides in it comments about how quiet it is. I did think of taping out the BMW symbols on the exterior because I am a little embarrased to own one. I have probably wanted one for 20 years.

    180 hp seems enough to me for day to day and road trip driving. My other car is a 180 hp Audi TT Roadster and my wife’s car is an Audi Q5 with 200 hp. The horsepower is more than adequate for US roads. I ran the 320i at 100 mph for a few minutes in Nevada. It was very steady and I think you could drive it all day comfortably at that speed. Can’t do that here, of course.

    Thought that an actual owners comment might be of value.

  • avatar
    BrunoT

    The appeal to me of BMW’s (owned 3 so far) is the steering feel, handling, and braking combined with good levels of refinement, NVH, etc. This is something few other brands can deliver. More power is nice, but rarely used with a passenger in the car.

    A 320i with a manual and sport package and nothing else is a fine $34,000 car for those who really care about driving and not just badge-bragging/oneupsmanship and being swathed in luxury and techno features.

    I may return to the brand one day, but it certainly won’t be to impress anyone.

    I wonder how many loaded 335i drivers wrote a check for theirs, vs leasing or financing.


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