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BMW 3 Series Detailed Expert Review - September 15, 2012

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Sep 15, 2012 : Expert Review By

BMW India seems to be in a mood to challenge the other two auto makers across different segments. The success of BMW has pushed the others to bring in new and innovative products. 

Raising the already set benchmark, BMW recently unveiled the 2012 version of its entry level sedan, the 3 series. Cricket maestro Sachin Tendular was present to grace the event.

Audi A4, Mercedes Benz C Class and BMW 3 Series have always been amidst a battle to dominate the premium sedan category. With BMW’s new arsenal, the 3 Series, BMW aims not just to win the battle but also dictate it for long.  The company claims this is the Ultimate BMW 3 series ever made..True? We find it in our review of the 2012 328i Sport Line sedan.


Whenever any model goes through a design change, there is a big risk of the new model getting accepted especially as the existing model enjoys a great reputation in design. However, BMW designers did manage to do justice with the new design and maintain the lineage.

The compactness of the 3 series has always worked for it. The team worked on the design of the car and brought in loads of aggression in it. In addition of making the car longer, wider and taller BMW designers have thrown a number of 5 series cues on the new 3 series design making a uniform portfolio look.

First thing that pulls your attention is the nose of the car, which has been pulled out and appear with a forward slant. The new design looks a lot meaner and smarter than earlier. Flat headlights with new design Corona rings now reach the frame of the iconic kidney grille. Two large air intakes have replaced the single unit which used to come in the earlier generation.

When viewed from side, the new generation model does not look very different. Since the car has been made longer (+93mm) and also the wheelbase has been increased (+50mm) it looks bigger. The bulging front hood with flairs all over make it looks very athletic. We were reviewing the 328i Sportline with 225/45 R18 tyres which looked perfectly contrasting with the flaming red color.

The rear view of the camera looks a lot similar to the earlier version especially with the trademark L-shaped design tail lamps. A closer look though confirms the newly increased dimensions with the extended wheel flares flowing to the rear. Reflectors are positioned at the extreme corners. Even in the new design the traditional BMW traits have been retained which can be seen from the horizontal lines running on the rear profile.

It is interesting that the new 3 series though has been redesigned to meet the new generation looks, it still retains the iconic features. The aggression and sporty character of the new sedan does not scream for attention but then you simply can’t ignore the changes and end up appreciating it. 


Offered in two equipment lines, The Luxury Line and the Sport Line, we greedily chose the latter. The 328i Sport Line comes in a mean black finish with red stitching all over. Interiors of a BMW will always appeal to the performance lovers whereas the Mercedes Benz is more laid back and graceful.

With a driver inclined cockpit design, all the controls are very easily accessible. The red metallic inserts standout of the dark interiors and impressively does so. The large steering wheel gets a red stitch too. Affixed on the steering wheel are different controls for multimedia and phone. It also has a roll on wheel to toggle between different options on the instrument panel.

The 4 circular dials make a simple looking instrumental panel. Though, I just wish the digits on the speedometer to have some sort of italics to differentiate it and make it look sportier.

A fixed iDrive monitor takes the central position on the front dashboard. It is located within an easy radius of the driver. It may appear small but the position of this high resolution screen is very important as it may act as a distraction if not placed at the correct position. The iDrive operator is located on the central area towards the passenger. The central panel has got nice lines separating the different zones of the Different Modes (ECO PRO and SPORT), gear stick, handbrake lever and the iDrive jog dial.

On the Sports Line, the seats come with adequate bolstering but then it may be an issue for all the passengers in general. The seats can be electrically adjusted and have a memory setting as well. Front row seats have always been a delight in the 3 series as it is a driver’s car. With the increase in length and wheelbase, BMW has finally heard the cramped legroom grievances. The rear cabin space has got roomy with greater headroom, knee room and 15mm additional legroom. The front row seats get a thigh support but the same is not available for the rear row. Had it been there, the ride would have become more comfortable.  

Increased dimensions have also got in more storage space inside. Door pockets can now hold 1ltr bottles. There are two glass holders which feature on the central panel ahead of the gear shift lever. The boot space of the new sedan has also been increased by 20 litres as compared to the earlier model. The new version packs in a luggage space of 480 litres.


The 2012 BMW 328i has got the similar 4 cylinder configuration which BMW used when they started the 3 series in 1975. The new unit has got a TwinPower Turbo charger equipped 4 cylinder engine. The 1997cc engine produces a power of 245bhp at 5,000-6,500 rpm and a torque of 350Nm at 1,250 to 4,800 rpm. The new engine is meted with an 8 speed automatic transmission.


The new electric steering unit has bid farewell to the hydraulic arrangement. Personally, the hydraulic still remains my favorite as it gave a very precise feedback. With the paddle shift ears sticking out inside the steering wheel and low driving position, the driving position becomes very sporty. It is also supported with the racy extra bolstered seats.

Performance of a sedan is an important aspect but fuel efficiency still remains one of the primary concerns in Indian auto market. The 2012 BMW 3 series now comes with a ECO PRO mode which makes it a fuel efficient drive. In the ECO PRO mode, the throttle response gets very dull as the engine gets remapped for a fuel efficient response. Even the gear shifts get customized. BMW also claims that the ECO PRO mode helps in reducing the fuel consumption by 20%.

Another addition is a Head-Up display, with an amazing visibility on the front windscreen. It displays the symbols and characters on the windscreen without blocking the view. Its position and brightness can also be adjusted.

The TwinPower turbocharger injects exponential power in the new engine. It has a Twin scroll arrangement. Theoretically meaning a pair of two cylinders have different spiral shaped paths to the turbine wheel. Practically, it’s an awesome arrangement due to which there is no turbo lag of any sort and also the turbo keeps pulling the car across the entire band range of rpms.

The earlier generation model felt more compact while driving as compared the new model. With the increase in dimensions, one can feel the size of the vehicle while making those tight turns. Handling has always been a BMW forte and this one does the job pretty well.

Turn the Sport Mode On and the vehicle unveils its real side. The throttle becomes coarse and meaty. Steering wheel feedback gets very crisp. If the Sports mode doesn’t satisfy you, shift it to Sport+ mode where the traction control is switched off. The power delivery through the rear wheels can make you drift around the corners. The low profile tyres make sure that you stay grounded. Even though the car becomes athletic, it still remains very much in control even at high speeds. On Automatic shift, the gear shifts up and down at the exact rpms without any delay. The paddle shift was our favorite tool on throughout the review though it was not the most fuel efficient way of driving.

We got a best fuel efficiency figure of 10kmpl which was very impressive as BMW claims a best of 14.79kmpl. The ECO PRO mode is indeed very useful and saves you from the guilt of being a fuel guzzler.


Technical Specifications
 Make BMW
 Model 328i
Engine Capacity (L) 1997
Power (PS/RPM) 245/6500
Torque (NM) 350/4800
Dimensions in mm
GrouNd clearence 140
Length  4624
Width 2031
Height 1429
Wheel Base 2810
Claimed fuel efficiency in KMPL 14
Tyre size Front 225/45 R18
Tyre size Rear 225/45 R18
Top speed KMPH 250
Curb weight Kgs. 1980
Tank capacity in Liters 60
BMW 3 Series Competitors
Competition Specifications
Mercedes Benz
Variant 328i Sportline A4  1.4 TFSi C Class 200 CGI Avantgarde
Ex Show room price  Mumbai in lakh 3790000 2948000 3510000
Engine Capacity (L) 1997 1798 1796
Power (PS/RPM) 245/6500 170/6200 186/5600
Torque (NM/rpm) 350/4800 320/3700 285/4000
Dimensions in mm
Length  4624 4701 4590
Width 2031 1826 1770
Height 1429 1427 1447
Wheel Base 2810 2808 2760
Claimed fuel efficiency in KMPL 14.7 16 14
Tyre size 225/45 R18 225/55 R16 225/45 R17
Top speed KMPH 250 200 225
Kerb weight kgs 1980 1610 1585
Tank capacity in Liters 60 63 66
Key Features
Automatic airconditioning Yes Yes Yes
Automatic transmission with steptronic Yes Yes Yes
Central locking with immobiliser and crash sensor Yes Yes Yes
Leather upholstery Yes Yes Yes
Fog lights Yes Yes Yes
Sports leather steering wheel Yes Yes Yes
Multifunction steering wheel Yes Yes Yes
Rain and light sensor Yes Yes Yes
Park distance control, rear Yes Yes Yes
Electric seat adjustment with memory for driver seat Yes Yes Yes
HiFi loudspeaker system Yes Yes Yes
CD changer for 6 CD Yes Yes Yes
Driver and front passanger airbag Yes Yes Yes
Head airbag front to rear Yes Yes Yes
Side airbag driver and front passanger Yes Yes Yes
Cornering Brake Control Yes Yes Yes
Dynamic stability control Yes Yes Yes
Dynamic traction control Yes Yes Yes
Run flat tyres Yes Yes Yes

The 2012 sixth generation BMW 3 series indeed succeeds in being the “Ultimat3” as claimed by BMW. The new age looks, fuel efficient mode and the new engine totally work in its favor. The new 3 series is not just the Ultimate 3 series but then it’s the best premium sedan in its range comprising of both performance and luxury.

Audi A4 and Mercedes Benz C Class will take good time to recover from this BMW attack. BMW has already raked in an impressive number of bookings for the new 3 series. So if sports sedan is what you need, the 328i can be the perfect performance solution. Keep it on Sports+ mode and enjoy pure 3 series performance and if the fuel prices pinch you a lot, remember, there is always an ECO PRO mode to rely on.

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