The BMW 3 Series has been the benchmark to which all manner of vehicles are measured. The comparisons go beyond the likes of the Audi A4, Mercedes-Benz C-Class and Volvo S60, and include BMW M3 vs Chevy Camaro and BMW 328d vs Toyota Prius. It seems that every car company in America makes at least one “3-Series fighter.” But there’s a problem with your largest volume product being put on this kind of pedestal: die-hard fans hate change.
Enthusiasts claim that BMW ruined the 3 Series when they redesigned it in 2012. The “F30” sedan got bigger, fatter, softer, and more gadget-filled than ever before. BMW fanbois cried in their gemüsesuppe, Road & Track called it an “also ran” and … BMW laughed all the way to the bank.
For 2016 the 3-Series gets a facelift, new engines and a redesigned suspension. What isn’t changed, however, is BMW’s new direction. And that’s a good thing in my book.
UPDATE: According to commenter krhodes1 and Facebook commenter Michael Smith, the 228i manual (order code 162A) is still available and there is a bug in the configurator. Which reminds me, you should like The Truth About Cars on Facebook.
Jalopnik is reporting that a number of BMW models — namely the 228i, 328i, and 428i — have lost their manual options for 2016. BMW’s online configurator for the 2016 model year shows the cars as automatic-only options, effectively making the manual transmission a premium option by forcing manual-loving customers into higher trims.
Does this mean the end of the manual transmission as we know it? Probably not. (Yet.)
Last week, Matt Hardigree suggested that new-car intenders consider the 320i ZSP + ZMT, which offers a staggering 180 horsepower and a stick shift for a middling $35,000 or thereabouts. I’m personally very excited by this because I learned how to drive in a BMW with about the same weight, power, and sticker price. On the other hand, it’s a considerable step backwards from the 330i Sport I had from 2001 to 2004, so maybe not.
Since we’re big Jalopnik fans here at TTAC, we’re going to put our money where their mouth is. Plus a little.
Why, why, why the hell is the new BMW 328d called the 328d? It’s a 3-Series, so that part’s legitimate, even if today’s 3er dwarfs the old Bavaria. It’s also a diesel, so the “d” seems appropriate, even if the absence of a “t” rankles a bit among those of us who remember the 524td. Not that “t” always meant “turbo” in BMW-land; sometimes it meant “touring” like fast, sometimes it meant “touring” like station wagon.
The problem is this: the “28” in 328d suggests a 2.8-liter engine. Just like the 528e had. Well, actually, that was a 2.7-liter engine. The same engine appeared in the 325e, where it was also 2.7 liters. Still, those are relatively white decklid lies compared to the effrontery of putting a two-liter engine in a car and badging it as a 2.8, right? There has to be a rhyme and reason here somewhere, surely. And it there isn’t, then surely there’s a way to put some sense and sensibility back into the German-car game, right?
Good news: I, your humble author, have a solution.
The 3 series has been the benchmark to which all manner of vehicles are measured. The comparisons go beyond the likes of the A4, C-Class and S60 and include things like M3 vs Camaro, 328i vs Prius. There’s a problem with your largest volume product being put on this kind of pedestal: how do you redesign it? Carefully, mildly, infrequently and only when absolutely required. With increased competition from the Audi A4, a redesigned S60 and Caddy’s new ATS, can BMW afford the same formula again? Michael Karesh got his hands on a 328i back in March, while I spent a week testing the 328i in its natural habitat: the California freeway. (Oh, and we spent some time on Lagua Seca as well.)
No car has defined and dominated a segment like the BMW 3-Series. It is the compact sport sedan everyone else has been gunning for since the origin of the line over 30 years ago. So when the 3er is redesigned, as it has been for 2012, everyone wonders: have they once again raised the bar, or have they lost their way, perhaps even choked? An answer, in two parts. First up: a “Luxury Line” 328i automatic. Next month: a three-pedal “Sport Line” 335i.
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