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2012 BMW 3 Series

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2012 BMW 3 Series Review

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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)

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2012 BMW 3 Series Consumer Reviews

Overall Rating
8.5
Out of 10

Based on 91 Ratings for the 2012 - 2016 models.

Review this car
  • Value
    7.9/10
    Quality
    8.5/10
  • Reliability
    8.7/10
    Performance
    9.1/10
  • Comfort
    8.6/10
    Styling
    9.0/10

BMW with the mpg of a geekbox

By on Saturday, July 23, 2016

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 22,000

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

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

Pros: "great mpg, free maintenance/service - good value"

Cons: "lack of interior storage space (under seat, etc)"

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

"If you drive a lot, you'll love the comfort, handling and mpg...and with diesel you'll save enough to pay for it. I cannot believe I'm getting 40.2 mpg combined in a BMW. I'm getting 48 mpg on the freeway...75mph with the a/c on. Driving range is over 600 miles on hwy. I went from $70 for a tank of premium to $35 for a tank of diesel (yes,it's 60 cents/gallon less) in Los Angeles...and i'm now filling up once per week or less, compared to every 4-5 days. Fit and finish is German. Instruments laid out as expected. Drink holders actually work in this model. Could use storage under front seat, but lack of spare tire (run flats) gives enough extra space in the car...just not up front. iDrive system works well, and short cut buttons on the dash come in handy. Will store 3 driver's information (radio presets, seats, short cut buttons, climate preference...really slick.) If you cannot find something to listen to, you're not trying...cd,radio, satellite, bluetooth, usb. Backup camera works well with sensors."

Great 3 series

By on Friday, July 22, 2016

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 26,500

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
9/10

Pros: "Great handling, reliable, very much fun to drive"

Cons: "Backup camera wasn't installed"

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

"Mine is 2014 328i with Sport package and black 20" BMW wheels with RFT Pirelli tires. The handling is exceptional with the sport package. I only wish the RFTs weren't so stiff and in my case low profile (30 in back and 35 up front). Excluding that minor annoyance (easy fix) the car is a blast to drive in any conditions. It's way quicker than the 240HP rating suggests. It tracks true and doesn't require any corrections to maintain a true line of travel. Electronic steering is not as good as hydraulic but that's expected. It will be years before they get it just right. The car feels solid and there are no squeaks or rattles of any kind. I like the sport seats as well, they keep you in place just right (adjustable). If you've never driven a 3 series at least test drive one and you'll understand. Bonus: with black exterior, interior and wheels, it looks awesome too."

Beatiful. Clean. Classy. Versatile.

By on Thursday, July 7, 2016

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 13,100

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

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

Pros: "Fun to drive, efficient, sporty, classy, techy"

Cons: "Price."

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

"I have the 2015 328I X-drive in silver and it is fantastic in all aspects. I have an affinity for well engineered machines, which is why I have gravitated towards BMW. They blend aesthetics with practicality, luxury, power and efficiency, and the end result is a car that capture the essence of who I am. The exterior of the vehicle is beautiful, clean, and classy. It is a pleasure to look at. The interior is well designed with elements that incorporate luxury with technology to envelope you in smart, classy, ergonomic, sporty and state of the art features. I was hesitant to go with a 4 cylinder engine...until I drove it. Again, even in this aspect BMW absolutely exceeds expectations. Most people expect a 4 cylinder engine to be sluggish and to under perform. BMW, however, changes that. They have optimized the performance of their 4 cylinder engine and added a "twin power" turbo. Everyone looks at horsepower, which appears a little low on these 328's, but what really throws you back into the seat isn't the horse power, it's the torque. This twin power turbo creates 255 lb-ft of ab strengthening torque. When you select sport mode, and step on the gas, it feels like you are getting launched off of an air craft carrier, pushing you from zero to 60 mph in 4.6 seconds. To give you some perspective, a dodge viper is a dedicated, 2 seat sports car with an 8 liter, V-10 645 horse power engine. A 2015 Dodge Viper GTC does zero to 60 in 3.4 seconds. The 328 is no dodge viper, but it really gets up and moves. But, if you select Eco Pro, your 328 suddenly becomes so gas friendly oil companies start laying off workers. Most of the time you will probably be in comfort mode, which is a very satisfying combination of performance and fuel efficiency. If you have an affinity for design excellence, class, performance, efficiency, and luxury like I do, this is absolutely the car for you."

Great Milage and Fun to Drive

By on Tuesday, June 14, 2016

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 15,000

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

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

Pros: "Great looks, handles great"

Cons: "Could integrate better with iOS. Rear leg room"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9

BMW European Delivery

"328d has great highway milage. IF I'm doing the highway speed limit 47-50mpg is easy. M Sport package makes the car look great, love the M front seats. I'm 6'5" and fit in the diver seat comfortably. Harmon-Lardon sound system sounds great. 8-speed transmission is smooth. For a diesel, the car has some decent get up and go, though there is a brief turbo delay when you hit the accelerator. Once it kicks in, acceleration is strong enough for me."

BMW European Delivery

Exceeds my expectations

By on Tuesday, April 26, 2016

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 500

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

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

Pros: "BMW handling and ride, gas mileage, looks"

Cons: "Rearview camera is not standard, mediocre seats"

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

"This is my family’s fifth BMW. I had a 2010 328i sedan and loved the performance. I have also driven the 2016 328i as a service loaner and was very impressed. When I first considered the 2016 320i it was with a lot of skepticism about the reduced horsepower compared to the 328. I am so glad I took it for a test drive. The acceleration is better than I expected, especially in Sport mode. I have an X3 with the 2.0 L Turbo and I would say the 320 in Sport mode is about as fast as the X3. Highway driving is great. I was cruising at over 80 mph and it seemed effortless. The handling and ride is excellent. It is everything you would expect in a BMW. The steering is precise, it can turn and stop on a dime. For those who are used to other luxury brands like Lexus or Mercedes, it may not be what you are used to. BMW owners will feel right at home. The car has fantastic leg room in the back seat (better than Audi A3 or A4 in my experience) and a huge trunk. It is a great combination of practicality with sportiness. Gas mileage is better than what I am getting on my X3. My only complaint is that the seats seem a little flat, but they are good enough. The sport package seats are better. I saved around $5,000 versus the 328 and it is money well-saved. The 328 is noticeably better in acceleration, but the 320 is a better value in my opinion. Both are excellent cars."

24 people out of 43 found this review helpful

I used love it before having too many issues

By on Tuesday, March 15, 2016

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 16,000

10 2.0
overall rating 2 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
2/10
Value
5/10
Reliability
1/10
Quality
1/10
Performance
10/10
Styling
10/10
Comfort
8/10

Pros: "Fun to drive, good looking car"

Cons: "Issues, CPO is not worth it to buy, Not good warr"

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

"I bought a 2015 used CPO with 8000 miles on it. It was a huge mistake to buy a CPO because it was just a name. After getting the car I had to take it back for service the day after for fixing the "Horn", "Bumper Scratches(never fixed via seller dealer" and also a week after for steering wheel vibrating shakes which has never been fixed after taking it to 2 different dealerships for more than 6 times. I though okay I have to deal with these issues and there is no other way. after using the car for 7000 miles and a few rain in California both of the side mirrors have a lot of spots like hard water and I tried to clean them up but they don't go away. I took it to the dealership and they declined to replace the mirror even I told them about the visibility issues driving overnight and they ignored me and told me all the BMW cars have the same issue when they get old. I opened a lemon case with my layer to return the car back and every week I have to take it to the service to get things fixed and there is something everyday wrong with this car. I also took it to other dealer ships to trade it in and they gave me 10k to 15k less than loan amount I have open for the car. I used to love BMW and it was my dream to drive a BMW but now I wish I never bought a BMW and I tell everybody not to buy. I hope someone from the company reads my message and help me to understand why they sold me a CPO car and low millage with too many issues and they don't even want to fix it.I wish I could return or sell this car without loosing any money and get another brand. I will never buy a BMW again. I hope USA BMW helps to get out of this bad situation and bad experience."

18 people out of 28 found this review helpful

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