Advertisement

Why ads?
Go

2012 BMW 3 Series

Overview
Share this page
Trading in or Selling? Know where you stand with the most up-to-date Kelley Blue Book Value at your fingertips. See your car's value

Buying this car?

2012 BMW 3 Series Review

By

KBB Expert Rating: 8.5

The first iteration of an all-new, sixth-generation 3 Series – the 328i Sedan – lands in U.S. showrooms by February or March of 2012, but demand for the current generation shows no signs of abating. From its introduction in 1975, BMW's 3 Series has morphed into more variations than one might have imagined. Thankfully, BMW's original intent has remained the same: Provide driving enthusiasts with a dynamic platform wrapped in reasonable comfort and sitting on a responsible footprint. Prices are well north of where they started, luxury and electronics abound, but the guiding principles found in the first generation remain in the fifth gen. And note that the 3 Series sedan continues as a 2011 model until the first quarter of 2012, when the all-new sedan debuts as a 2012 model.

You'll Like This Car If...

If you regard driving as both an "act" and an "art," you'll enjoy the 3 Series. After 35 years, BMW's volume model remains the defining example when consumers reference a "sport sedan." That is, a nimble, responsive chassis embodying most of the attributes of a Grand Tourer, but clothed in more upright, practical bodywork. Whether you opt for the 2-door Coupe, 4-door sedan or M3 Convertible, the 3 Series execution remains faithful to the 1975 concept. Of course, when looking at the M3, it's the 1975 concept on drugs.

You May Not Like This Car If...

As good as the 3 Series is, it's not for everyone. With rear-wheel drive, the handling on dry pavement is more balanced, but less secure when roads are wet, icy or snow-covered. And that same commitment to rear-wheel drive intrudes on interior room; most competitive sedans and wagons in the price segment opt for front- or all-wheel drive to better balance on-road dynamics with passenger accommodation. Finally, if you hold onto a car longer than the finance period – or warranty period – you'll find "German" typically more maintenance-intensive than Japanese or domestic alternatives.

What's New for 2012

While near the end of its product cycle, the 3 Series received a number of visual and functional updates in 2011. To that end, the existing models benefit from little more than fine-tuning. Notably, as of 2012 the M3 4-door is no more; this is a 3 Series variant those wanting to travel at 150 mph (with their kids) will certainly miss. Going forward, the new sedan makes its debut first, after which BMW will fill in the coupe, convertible and wagon gaps.

Driving the 3 Series

Driving Impressions BMW has been playing this particular game – sport sedan, coupe, convertible and (if you will) sport wagon – about as long as anyone. To that end, they have reduced...

handling to an absolute science, with all driver inputs – steering, throttle and braking – perfectly executed, unless "driver error" rears its ugly head. A balanced platform, communicative steering, composed ride and ach du lieber braking serve as the benchmark in the 3 Series' competitive segment. Of course, the various powertrains all deliver specific characteristics. For most, the "cooking" 328i models will happily deliver capable performance at a more reasonable cost. Those demanding higher levels of performance or who may reside or drive at higher altitudes benefit from the added performance of the 335i. The V8-equipped M3 takes the equation, of course, just that much higher, with 414 horsepower beneath your right foot. And for those more bent on moderation than madcap motoring, the 335d can reliably deliver over 30 mpg on the highway.

6-Speed Manual Transmission
At a time when many manufacturers have simply given up on shift-for-yourself shifting, BMW continues to not only offer a 6-speed manual, but excel at its engineering, production and execution. Balanced with a clutch actuation that is seamless, the BMW six speed is one of the best arguments EVER for self-employment. And it's a shame BMW dealers don't keep more in their inventory.

BMW Diesel
We were inclined to suggest the base 3.0-liter six for its essential goodness, but defaulted to the TwinPower Turbo for its almost sublime explosiveness. And then we were reminded of rising fuel prices and the diesel's 36-mpg highway rating. With the thrust of a V8 and the economy of a four, it's the right powertrain for the car – and the obvious choice for the times.

2012 BMW 3 Series Details
Interior

Although today's 3 Series doesn't enjoy the greenhouse (glass area) of earlier generations, it remains an eminently hospitable perch for navigating today's traffic. And when you're not concerning yourself with surrounding traffic or scenery, you'll enjoy the comfortable access, relatively clean layout, informative instrumentation and high-quality materials. And despite BMW's iDrive having benefited from some recent streamlining and simplification, we continue to prefer a more conventional approach to ventilation and audio controls. Thankfully, that remains available at more modest trim levels.

Exterior
2012 BMW 3 Series photo

No company, other than perhaps Porsche, has a better grasp of its design DNA than BMW. Today's 3 Series is immediately recognizable as a direct descendant of the first 3 Series, which arrived in the U.S. for the 1977 model year. And the design team accomplishes that with little or no reliance on retro influences, such as we see in much of today's ponycar fleet. That said, the 3 Series has grown dimensionally in each of its successive generations, and appears to be growing some more as the all-new 3 Series is launched next year. And the M3, now endowed with a V8, has lost most of the subtlety in its sheet metal...and all of its innocence.

Notable Equipment
Standard Equipment

In its base, $35,000 form BMW's 328i sedan is comprehensively equipped. Beyond its standard 230-horsepower DOHC 6-cylinder powertrain connected to a 6-speed manual transmission, the cooking 3 Series benefits from any number of functional enhancements, including Dynamic Stability Control, Dynamic Traction Control and 4-wheel disc brakes with Dynamic Brake Control. Outside, standard 16-inch alloys provide a contact patch, while inside dark burled-wood trim warms the interior, as does an AM/FM stereo with CD/MP3 player with HD radio. Standard automatic climate control cools it. Of course, going up the food chain increases the number of standard features – while exposing the customer to even more expensive options. The M3, as either a Coupe or Convertible, is loaded in stock form, and will accelerate a window sticker almost as quickly as a quarter mile.

Optional Equipment

We like the recent addition of the BMW Performance Power Kits to the menu of items available from your BMW dealer. You can now retrofit two versions of a performance add-on to your 6-cylinder 3 Series. BMW's Version 1 optimizing engine software, while Version 2 takes that software (adding 20 horsepower) and protects it via an auxiliary water cooler and an enhanced radiator fan. Costs are $599 and $1,199, respectively, plus the cost of labor. From BMW, of course, there are literally hundreds of ways to personalize your BMW, from comfort and convenience items to class-leading performance enhancements. Notably, on a great many models – even at window stickers north of $40,000 – leather remains an extra-cost option!

Under the Hood

It used to be so easy. A "328" designation conveyed a 2.8-liter displacement, while the "335" would indicate a capacity of 3.5 liters. Despite a disconnect with the nomenclature, we won't argue with the results. The turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder in the new 328i Sedan is a sweetheart of an engine. The normally aspirated 3.0-liter in-line six in the 328i coupes, convertibles and xDrive sedans produces an ultra-smooth 230 horsepower and 200 lb-ft of torque. The 3.0-liter six fitted to the 335i models boasts 300 turbocharged horsepower in standard guise, and 320 when you move up to the twin-turbo 335is – or opt for the Performance Power Kit. The 3.0-liter diesel, also an inline-6, offers a 36-mpg EPA rating on the highway and 50-state certification. All can propel you from zero to jail in an amazingly brief sprint, and hang out all day on the Autobahn – or your version of the Autobahn. And should you prefer an extended stay in prison, consider BMW's M3. With 414 horsepower from its 4.0-liter V8, this one delivers acceleration and top-end speed fully rivaling the more exotic – and restrictive – Sports/GTs.


328i Sedan
2.0-liter turbocharged inline-4
240 horsepower @ 5,000 rpm
255 lb-ft of torque @ 1,250-4,800 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: na

328i Coupe / 328i Convertible / 328i xDrive Sedan /
328i Sports Wagon & 328i xDrive Sports Wagon
3.0-liter inline-6
230 horsepower @ 6,500 rpm
200 lb-ft of torque @ 2,750 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy:
328i Coupe: 18/28
328i Convertible: 17/26 (manual), 18/27 (automatic)
328i xDrive Sedan: 17/25 (manual), 17/26 (automatic)
328i Sports Wagon: 17/26 (manual and automatic)
328i xDrive Sports Wagon: 17/25


335i Sedan & 335i xDrive Sedan / 335i Coupe & 335i xDrive Coupe / 335i Convertible
3.0-liter turbocharged inline-6
300 horsepower @ 5,800 rpm
300 lb-ft of torque @ 1,300-5,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy:
335i Sedan: 17/26 (manual), 17/28 (auto)
335i xDrive Sedan: 16/25 (manual), 17/27 (automatic)
335i Coupe: 19/28 (all)
335i xDrive Coupe: 19/27 (manual), 18/27 (automatic)
335i Convertible: 19/28 (manual), 18/28 (automatic)

335is Coupe / 335is Convertible
3.0-liter twin-turbocharged inline-6
320 horsepower @ 5,900 rpm
332 lb-ft of torque @ 1,500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 18/26 (manual), 17/24 (DCT automatic)


335d Sedan
3.0-liter turbocharged inline-6 diesel
265 horsepower @ 4,200 rpm
425 lb-ft of torque @ 1,750-2,500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 23/36

M3 Coupe/M3 Convertible
4.0-liter V8
414 horsepower @ 8,300 rpm
295 lb-ft of torque @ 3,900 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy:
M3 Coupe: 14/20
M3 Convertible: 13/20 (manual), 14/20 (DCT automatic)

Trading in or Selling? Know where you stand with the most up-to-date Kelley Blue Book Value at your fingertips. See your car's value

Buying this car?

2012 BMW 3 Series Consumer Reviews

Overall Rating
8.5
Out of 10

Based on 77 Ratings for the 2012 - 2015 models.

Review this car
  • Value
    7.7/10
    Quality
    8.4/10
  • Reliability
    8.7/10
    Performance
    9.0/10
  • Comfort
    8.5/10
    Styling
    8.9/10

Wonderful Performance but overrated in other ways

By on Friday, July 24, 2015

I owned and sold this car
Reason: Didn't love it

10 8.0
overall rating 8 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
8/10
Value
6/10
Reliability
8/10
Quality
5/10
Performance
9/10
Styling
9/10
Comfort
5/10

Pros: "Great performance, good snob appeal."

Cons: "Uncomfortable, noisy ride. bad visibility."

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1

"I bought my 328i sedan new because i always wanted the "BMW Experience." The performance and handling of the car exceeded my expectations however, it started developing rattles and engine noise almost immediately. Something was loose in the right rear passenger space that rattled every time I went over a bump and i was never able to track it down. The car has a beautiful exterior but the interior is completely unremarkable, in fact, a bit poorly assembled and somewhat uncomfortable. The engine made a constant clacking noise that sounded like valve noise from the first day I owned it. The service people at BMW said it was normal fuel injector noise. Also, the most annoying thing about this car is it's automatic shutoff at stops. When the engine comes back on, the whole car quakes. The ride is noisy compared to middle of the line sedans like Honda or Toyota. For 40+ grand I guess I expected a bit more."

2 people out of 4 found this review helpful

Not Impressed

By on Friday, July 24, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 19,000

10 7.0
overall rating 7 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
7/10
Value
6/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
6/10
Performance
9/10
Styling
7/10
Comfort
7/10

Pros: "Drives well"

Cons: "Turbo sounds terrible"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 3

"Before this BMW, I owned a 2011 328I. Wish I never 'upgraded'. The engine sounds like a diesel, somewhat embarrassing. You pay for options which should be standard, like the leather. Really fake leather in a BMW, what are you paying for?? Look for used or wait until year end to get the best price. They do not hold their value whatsoever."

Sparingly used with easy care for 100,000 miles

By on Wednesday, July 22, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 29,000

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
10/10
Value
10/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
10/10
Performance
10/10
Styling
10/10
Comfort
10/10

Pros: "Great value fr money, pleasure in driving"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10

"Very sparingly used, extra warranty coverage for bumper to bumper for 100,000 miles or 6 years; sports package; new tires, beautiful red color"

Best car I've ever owned

By on Tuesday, July 14, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 55,000

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
10/10
Value
9/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
9/10
Performance
10/10
Styling
9/10
Comfort
10/10

Pros: "Acceleration, handling, gas mileage, comfort, fun,"

Cons: "none"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10

"I've owned several different cars including Infinity, Audi, Porsche, and several BMW's, but this one surpasses them all. Acceleration, handling, gas mileage, reliability, fun. I will let this go at 100,000 miles but it will be hard to do. Cant believe it books at only $23,500 right now. What a steal that would be for someone. the 100,000 mile/6 year maintenance along with the 100,000 mile/6 year full warranty means it doesn't cost me a penny until mid-2018. That is peace-of-mind."

16 people out of 28 found this review helpful

13 Bmw 328i xdrive

By on Saturday, July 11, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 50,000

10 6.0
overall rating 6 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
6/10
Value
5/10
Reliability
7/10
Quality
6/10
Performance
8/10
Styling
5/10
Comfort
5/10

Pros: "Performance , efficiency"

Cons: "Ride quality, interior materials,"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 5

"Great car if you like performance and don't care about the ride quality. Interior materials feel kind of cheap and boring ( standard leather surface is hard and feels like rubber ) Run flat tires are loud, wear fast, and the ride comfort is just horrible, you will feel every bump and road imperfection. Idrive system is complicated and everything requires minimum of 2-3 steps. Climate system will never allow fresh cold air going thru, you need a/c turned on for that otherwise you will have warm air blowing in even at the lowest possible temperature setting. Interior storage amount is small and ergonomic are disappointing , USB outlet is under the arm rest and the second USB is in a very small glove compartment. All Service is covered for 4 years or 50K , after that it's going to cost you a fortune, parts at the dealership must have 50% mark up. And good luck if you want to check engine oil , no dipstick, 4 or 5 steps later using idrive and 2 minutes later, that is how long it takes , it's measured electronically ( the worst idea ever ! ) Is it worth some $ 40K,? You can decide on your own.."

12 people out of 26 found this review helpful

Amazing Car! From VW to BMW

By on Thursday, June 25, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 1,500

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
10/10
Value
8/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
10/10
Performance
10/10
Styling
10/10
Comfort
10/10

Pros: "Power, looks, fuel economy, HK sound system, tech."

Cons: "Pricing-certain options should be standard"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10

"After 15 years of owning VW's I decided to get the BMW of my dreams. I had owned a 2015 VW GTI and the car had quite a few problems that VW could not resolve. I decided to look at a fully loaded 328i xdrive. I fell in love immediately. I love the power, handling, harmon kardon sound system, interior and exterior design, fuel efficiency, and all of the tech features, they work flawlessly. My only complaint is pricing, I feel like this car should come standard with the sunroof, leather, heated seats, back up camera, xenon lights. After I added all options my total was $54,000, that is $15,000 in options/packages."

28 people out of 48 found this review helpful

Share this page

Advertisement

Why ads?
Trading in or Selling? Know where you stand with the most up-to-date Kelley Blue Book Value at your fingertips. See your car's value

Buying this car?