Dynamically blessed, world renowned and the very definition of a status symbol. Yes, it’s BMW. As far as compact executive sedans go there are really only the two other Germans, Mercedes and Audi. So what’s so premium about a 60k plus European sedan? Turns out quite a bit. EFTM recently spent a week in the BMW 328i Sport Line.
The 10 Minute Test Drive
Solid and clinically bolted together, that’s the feeling that washes over you before fingering the start button. Boutique level plastics, swathes of aluminium decorative trim, beautifully executed dials, vents and supreme cabin aesthetics certainly will please a discerning eye.
Once overcoming the overly complicated gear shifter the splendour continues. Sitting in a genuinely perfect driving position the 328i cruises along with that typically inherent BMW way of driving. It’s basically a combination of balance, steering weighting and a real affinity between driver and machine.
The 328i gets the remarkable 2.0-litre TwinPower turbo petrol engine. More than brisk, it’s capable of bolting to 100 km/h in less than six seconds. All while accompanied by a surprisingly throaty roar.
But then there’s those damn run-flat tyres, sure a wonderful advancement should you get a flat however a real impediment on the many Australian kilometres of underfunded rubbish roads. Expect plenty of crash, bang and wallop. It’s like rolling around in gravel in a silk tailor made suit. Fortunately, let’s be honest – the vast majority of 3 Series buyers are enjoying the city roads and wont often sample even the smooth winding tracks let alone some country roads.
Ins and Outs
Under the nose is a TwinPower 2.0-litre 4-cylinder 16 valve turbo petrol engine married to an 8-speed automatic. Producing an athletic 180kW @ 5,000 – 6,500 rpm and 350Nm @ 1,250 – 4,800 rpm. There won’t be too many embarrassing moments when the lights turn green.
As part of BMW’s EfficientDynamics package there’s a Driving Experience feature called ECO PRO mode. Sure to impress those with a green bent, it also provides a Sport and Sport + mode for far more enthusiastic driving. With the latter two selected the mid-sized sedan transforms into quite a thoroughbred.
Our test car was dressed up in “Sport Line” attire, one of three packages available sitting in between “Modern” and “Luxury”. A very comprehensive dose of extra kit including 18-inch light-alloy wheels, sports seats and impressive interior / exterior enhancements really add to the appeal.
The 328i starts at $68,900 but BMW offer a longer list of options than dishes at a sushi train. While tempting, building your dream car will be both time consuming and expensive. Take for example our test car; Metallic paint $1,415, extra aluminium and other interior trim $400, sunroof $2,245, Bi-Xenon headlights $1,577 and for improved smartphone connectivity $385. You get the idea.
Fuel consumption is claimed to sit at 6.3l/100 km which is probably achievable if it weren’t for an engine that loves a good punt.
It’s easy to bag a BMW driver; obviously we must uphold our notorious tall poppy syndrome. But jealously is a horrible thing as any BWW owner would know.
The Lasting Impression
The longer you drive the current 3 series the more you learn to appreciate it. Little things like the cruise control LED light indicator on the speedo that marks your set speed. The way the instrument cluster lighting smoothly adjusts brightness according to outside ambient light. The feel of the steering wheel, the coldness of the real aluminum trim. It’s the sum of all parts that will keep the pride alive for many years to come.
The EFTM Rubber Stamp
This is a highly distinguished piece of engineering, not just a car. However despite all its attributes I find it hard to overlook the harshness of those run flat tyres. The ride is not befitting of such a magnificent vehicle. As a result the BMW 328i slips down to the EFTM Credit Rubber Stamp of approval.