3 Steps Forward, 2 Steps Backward

Derek Kreindler
by Derek Kreindler
3 steps forward 2 steps backward

230 horsepower and 3362 lbs doesn’t sound very impressive on paper. But that’s the last reason anyone buys a BMW 328i. I admit that in my numbers-obsessed adolescence, I was skeptical of the promise of a silky-smooth I6 and the intangible promise of perfect poise and balance. Why not just go straight for the 335i? And then I drove one.

It turned out that yes, the 328i really did deliver on the much vaunted promise of being one of the finest sports sedans in the world. Since then, I have longed for a naturally aspirated, manual transmission BMW. The 328i has always held a certain appeal, though I wouldn’t turn down the E90 330i, with its juiced-up 3.0L I6.

The introduction of the turbo-four BMWs has added a certain urgency to that desire, and this article by Road & Track isn’t helping matters. The guys at R&T have come to the same conclusion that many of us have over at TTAC. For all its supposed pace and efficiency, the turbo-4 can’t compare to the purity and sophistication of the I6 powertrain and the hydraulic steering system. I’m off to find one on Craigslist, hopefully not in that eggplant color.

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  • Carguy Carguy on Jul 04, 2013

    There is a typo in your headline - its supposed to read "two steps forward and three steps back". Having owned every 3 series coupe since the E30 my current E92 will be my last unless they fix the current car's problems: The steering is over-boosted and numb, the engine sounds like a diesel, the hood is too high, the interior too busy and the brakes are terrible. For anyone that want a real BMW, get a used E90/92, ditch the run-flat tires and enjoy what might be the last great drivers car from Munich.

  • Talkstoanimals Talkstoanimals on Jul 04, 2013

    I've noticed that a growing number of youngish guys in my area (DC) who might otherwise be 328 buyers are driving Caddy ATSs. Has anyone else noticed a similar trend? It's been causing me to wonder if Caddy's attempts to attract that crowd are finally catching hold as the 3 Series loses some of its sporting appeal, or if I'm just taking special note of 20 through 40 somethings driving Caddys because its so incongruous with my normal expectations.

  • CliffG CliffG on Jul 04, 2013

    The original BMW four, circa 2002, was a fabulous engine. The I6 is also fabulous, one of the best motors ever in my opinion. Having owned BMW's and Audi's, the fact is I will not go back to turbo-fours. Soulless, and positively frightening at 100K+ miles (sludge?), the six is just smoother and has such a nicer sound. Bought a 2011 128 specifically for the six (terrified that would implant a turbo-four in it soon), and am delighted. Buying advice: 2 years

    • Th009 Th009 on Jul 04, 2013

      That M10 engine in the 2002 goes way back to 1962, when it debuted in the 1500 (which saved the company at the time!). A good, enduring design it was, and done on a small budget, too.

  • Dartman Dartman on Jul 04, 2013

    In late 2009 I bought my wife a 328i with sport pkg, automatic, the only thing I really didn't like about it were the Potenza run-flats; when they wore out at 20k miles I replaced them with standard Continental DWT All Season tires in the same size. The difference in ride, handling, acceleration and fuel mileage was very noticeable. Why? Because the Conti's weighed almost 8 pounds less per each tire! Reducing the un-sprung weight transformed the car and keep in mind these were all season tires.