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May 21

Driven: 2012 BMW 328i sedan

Few cars earn the accolades and rack up the top awards like the BMW 3 series. So much so you have to wonder if the dinosaurs of media have just built such a love affair for the car over the years that it’s clouded their judgement. Sure the 335i is good, but how about the base model? Let’s find out!

Our 328i came with BMWs 2.0L turbo 4 cylinder, eight speed automatic transmission, and all sorts of options. At the surface with a base price of only 32k and change the 328i seems like a bargain but with all the added extras ours came out to an astronomical 50k dollars. BMW are the kings of nickle and diming you to death with options and this is the perfect example. Let me just be frank and say I love this car at 32k, I don’t at 50k. The getting awfully close to CTS-V, M3, and C63. It’s also going to be way beyond what the new Chevy SS will cost. 50k is a lot of freaking money for an average car.

With that said on to the car itself. It like almost all BMWs is pretty bland. I feel pretty uninspired looking at it but then again it is an entry level luxury sedan and not a hotted up version. I can over look it, plus our tester car’s white is not the choice we’d make for our color. I’m sure in black or silver the car looks classy. The rims are nice, our car has the optional 18 inch rims that don’t look too big or too small so no complaints there.

Moving inside we see the 328i has a very familiar BMW feel with a big long and curvy dash board all across the cabin. I’ve often felt the 3 series could use a more rounded center stack or some unique bezels pods around the gauges. Something to break it up because it has always looked chunky to me. The gauge are new though and they do look very nice and crisp. There is a lot going on with lots of curves and shapes so it’s certainly not pretty to look at.

Aesthetics aside the car is comfortable. I could see the miles melting away on a long road trip because the seats supportive in the right places and soft where it counts. More importantly they aren’t trying to be race car seats which is great for sports cars, but certainly not for a 328i.

Everything seems in it’s place and easy to reach from the drivers seat. BMW seems to have the iDrive system sorted now and it’s fairly easy to use, which if you’ll remember the iDrive of years gone by you will be relieved at the new one. You’ll get a pop up screen in the middle which looks odd and awkward but works nice.

We finely get to fire up the 328i and the car drives nice. The 240hp engine is more then adequate and the car accelerates quite nicely. One large annoyance is the stop start feature which shuts things down at stop lights and restarts them when you get back on the gas. It is VERY noticeable and I expected much better from BMW. While I’m sure the fuel savings are nice I will go back to this being a 50k dollar car. It needs to be smoother then this at the lights.

Steering is where BMW has always gotten it right just like every other BMW I’ve ever driven the 328i does not disappoint. It’s got a great feel with some weight to the wheel but easy enough to maneuver in the parking lots. In spirited driving the handling inspires confidence and while we just had the 328i version we could see this car being quite fun to drive on a twisty back road. The charming steering feel and handling is how the 3 series wins all of those comparisons.

Our time with the 328i was short but it was easy to see it’s upside. However it was also easy to see it’s downside. I don’t think you get much for the base price of 32k, and for 50k with options I can’t help but think there are greener pastures. I’d love to drive the equivalent Audi, Mercedes, and Cadillac offerings to compare but for now it’s not in the cards. I wouldn’t curl my nose at someone paying 50k for a 328i like I would for a Hyundai Genesis but I certainly wouldn’t pay that kind of money myself.