2012 BMW 3 Series : Road Test
50 50 doesn't just represent the perfect weight distribution on the new BMW 3 Series, it also represents our preference for the 320d over the 328i and our divided opinion on whether we liked the old 3 better
KM/H, KMPL AND GETTING THERE
So both engine options on the BMW 3 Series are awesome and many young buyers who can afford the car will have to face a mental struggle between going for the diesel 320d for its economy and the petrol 328i for its performance. Coming to the rescue of course are our instrumented tests and despite the extended bodywork and other factors the 2012 328i is claimed to outperform the previous generation’s 335i.
The 100km/h mark came up in 6.65 seconds while it returned a decent 7.25kmpl of fuel efficiency though it will manage better with the Auto Start Stop system kept switched on. In the same light, the 320d did the 0-100km/h sprint in 8.11 seconds and as always returned 12.25km to the litre. While performance has always been one of the strong points of the 3 Series, it’s the brand’s synonymy with great handling that is its biggest USP. With that extended wheelbase the 3 Series is most definitely even more stable at high speeds than it ever was but the one thing that longer wheelbases don’t quite favour are flickability through corners.
But this isn’t just any other car that has gained in length – it’s a BMW and that means it still retains its perfect 50:50 weight distribution and rear-wheel drive and that means it is as rock solid and engaging through a tight set of twisties as it always was. The 328i in its Sport Line trim gets electric sport steering too which is still a tad heavier than most people are used to around here but that’s just the way we like it. Switch the suspension to sport mode and you’ll have just enough liberty to get the tail break slightly out before stepping back in line without scaring you too much. And then if you’re in the mood for more you can even go ahead and switch all the electronics off and test how good you are at controlling all that power.
Even the 320d is all that but in a slightly scaled down proportion. Ride quality is on the stiff side of the norm as far as sedans in India are concerned but then again, the 3 Series leans more towards the sport sedan genre than a normal family vehicle and the comfort setting on the suspension does a decent job of ironing all the irregularities out. The overall tyre diameter on the runflats remains the same on all three trim versions – the base using a 225/55 R16 rating, the Luxury and Sport diesels using a 225/50 R17 rating and the Sport petrol using a 225/45 R18 rating for its rubber. Needless to say, the ride quality does differ from the 16-inchers to the 18-inchers and the base version has the best among the lot owing to the thicker side walls.
TECHNOLOGY AND PRICE TAGS
The new BMW 3 Series is priced between Rs 28.9 lakh for the base 320d and Rs 37.90 lakh for the top-of-the-line 328i Sport Line and for that tag you’re getting quite a lot of car. The F30 3 Series comes loaded with gadgets and has a features and options list that’ll take you a week to figure out completely, and then some more! BMW's commitment to green technology seeps through all that performance-oriented façade with all variants getting the EfficientDynamics package that includes Auto Start Stop as well as Brake Energy Regeneration which further helps save fuel.
The iDrive system is a delight to use and it hooks up to your smartphone and lets you view web pages on that crisp and bright screen as well. There’s more room at the back and for those resenting the shedding of two cylinders on the 328i for an inline 4 configuration will find solace in its crisper and coarser exhaust note. This is in all essence a car that carries forward the 3 Series tradition and isn’t just a smaller 5 Series by any means despite having borrowed bits from the bigger car. This could very well be the ultimate 3 as BMW claims it to be. But personally, we have just one pet grouse with the car and that has more to do with individual taste than anything else – that front end could have looked better. Well, the 328i’s superb engine more than makes up for that though
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