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At nearly $3,300 less than the previously entry-level 328i, the new 320i gives BMW a lower entry point for the 3-Series without compromising its luxury pretentions. Other noteworthy additions for 2013 include available xDrive AWD and a new ActiveHybrid model, which teams a 55-hp electric motor with the TwinPower turbo-6 for a combined 335 horsepower and a modest boost in fuel efficiency.
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.
The seemingly still-new 2011 3 Series benefits from a number of small visual updates, including new hood and front fascia, new headlights featuring an "eyebrow" for the daytime running lights, reshaped exterior mirrors with enhanced aerodynamics, and a new rear treatment that visually widens the car. Additionally, the 3 Series coupe and convertible receive a new side-skirt design. On top of the visual changes is a host of new options, combined with new variations in color, trim and upholstery.
The 3-Series Sedan and Wagon receive a slight exterior and interior freshening, with a new front end, revised rear end and a more dynamic profile. Also new are an improved iDrive controller and the addition of a turbocharged 3.0-liter diesel engine.
Steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters are available on models equipped with the six-speed STEPTRONIC transmission and Sport Package. The 328 models receive new 16-inch alloy wheels and chrome-tipped exhaust pipes, while HD radio is made available across the line.
For more than 30 years, the BMW 3 Series has set the standard for entry-level luxury sedans. Despite the best efforts of age-old rivals like the Mercedes-Benz C-Class, Audi A4 and Lexus IS, the 3 Series continues on as the undisputed benchmark in the category. This level of dominance is owed in large part to the variety of configurations that comprise the 3 Series line, including the multifaceted Sport Wagon, a fuel-sipping diesel, and an all-new Gran Turismo hatchback. To make the nameplate more accessible, the newly available 320i trim delivers 3 Series prestige at a buyer-friendly price. As for coupe and convertible versions, they will migrate to the forthcoming 4 Series platform, leaving the 2014 BMW 3 Series with an all-4-door portfolio. This is the story of why we named it one of the 10 Best Luxury Cars Under $40,000 for 2014.