By KBB.com Editors
Now in its fifth generation, BMW's 3 Series carries on as one of the world's premier driving machines. Both Sedan and Sports Wagon variants received a major engine upgrade last year, changing the familiar 325 and 330 name badges to 328 and 335, with the later receiving a twin-turbocharged engine. Even the more affordable members of the family -- rear-wheel-drive 328i Sedan and Sports Wagon and all-wheel-drive 328xi Sedan and Sports Wagon -- offer an impressive roster of comfort and convenience touches in addition to their crisply-tuned suspension packages, standard Dynamic Stability Control (DSC), powerful anti-lock brakes (ABS) and handling characteristics that continue to win rave reviews from driving fans everywhere.
If you're a genuine driving enthusiast who still believes that there's just something special about German automotive engineering, virtually any selection from the 328i and 328xi menu could be just what you're looking for. Even at its entry level, the 3 Series package provides an engaging mix of character, quality and performance.
If you prefer a suspension tuned more towards ride comfort than control, want a rear seat with lots of legroom or need a spacious trunk, the 3 Series may be less attractive than some of its European or Japanese competitors -- although the Sports Wagon does offer impressive cargo room even with the rear seat up. BMW's iDrive integrated controller that's included with the optional navigation system also has been criticized for its unnecessary complexity.
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.
Driving Impressions True to tradition, even the entry-level 3 Series offers a full measure of BMW's legendary driving DNA. Fortified with abundant power and torque, both rear-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive variants, in either...body style and with either transmission, are plenty fast from zero to 60 mph and easily capable of coping with any kind of traffic situation. There's a precise feel to the steering and the well-sorted suspension provides exceptional confidence through even the most challenging corners. While some may find the ride a tad too taut -- particularly when fitted with the optional Sport Package -- we think the handling advantages more than offset any minor comfort tradeoff. BMW's excellent xDrive all-wheel-drive system also makes dealing with inclement weather considerably less stressful.
Order a 3 Series with a manual transmission and you'll enjoy the benefits of this subtle but effective helper that automatically applies the brakes for a few seconds whenever you're stopped on a hill to help prevent the car from rolling backwards while you engage first gear.
Optional Active Steering
This high-tech adjunct to the standard power steering varies the effective turning ratio to correspond with vehicle velocity, making it easier to maneuver at low speeds while enhancing stability under freeway cruising conditions.
Although slightly roomier than any of its predecessors, the 2008 BMW 3 Series remains a compact sedan that provides better accommodations in its firm but comfortably supportive front bucket seats than in the rear bench -- where six-footers are apt to feel a bit confined. The clean, elegant look is highlighted by standard leatherette upholstery set off by Burl Walnut, Poplar Natural Wood or aluminum trim. Legible white-on-black instruments and a multifunction steering wheel on a tilt and telescoping column reinforce its driver-centric character, while models fitted with the optional navigation package get an alternative "double-wave" dash to accommodate the central video display.Exterior
A relatively long wheelbase coupled with short front and rear overhangs, plus a slight wedge shape, gives the compact 3 Series a dynamic flair that reflects common styling cues with the larger 5 Series and 7 Series, elements that are further reinforced by the signature twin-kidney grilles. Unique headlamp and taillight treatments help define the 3 Series' character, and the 17- and 18-inch wheels that are part of the optional Sport Package impart an even more aggressive stance than the standard 16-inch alloy rims. All 3 Series models are fitted with extended-mobility run-flat tires, so no spare is included.
In keeping with its performance heritage, the 2008 BMW 3 Series emphasizes precise handling by augmenting its well-tuned suspension with the comprehensive Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) system. DSC interfaces with the car's powerful anti-lock brakes (ABS) as well as with Dynamic Traction Control (DTC) on rear-wheel-drive models or Hill Descent Control (HDC) on all-wheel-drive vehicles. In addition to the expected power assists, the 3 Series offers numerous comfort and convenience touches, including cruise control, 10-speaker AM/FM/CD/MP3 audio system and a single (Sedans) or dual (Sports Wagons) power moonroof. All models feature run-flat tires, dual front and front-side airbags plus BMW's front- and rear-seat Head Protection System (HPS).
Key single extras include a six-speed STEPTRONIC automatic transmission, eight-way power front seats with driver memory, corner-following Xenon Adaptive Headlights, Comfort Access keyless entry and start, distance-maintaining Active Cruise Control, Active Power Steering that varies effort and ratio with vehicle speed, a navigation system with real-time traffic information and iDrive integrated multifunction controller, Dakota Leather upholstery, Logic7 Sound System, HD radio and SIRIUS Satellite Radio. The Cold Weather Package includes headlamp washers and heated front seats, while a Premium Package brings leather plus a subscription to BMW Assist that includes real-time help and concierge service at the push of a button. The Sport Package nets tauter suspension, sport seats and 17-inch wheels and tires.
Although the 328i and 335i share the same 3.0-liter engine displacement, how BMW tweaks each engine makes all the difference in the world. In the 328 models, an ultra-smooth 3.0-liter in-line six-cylinder engine makes a respectable 230 horsepower and 200 pound-feet of torque. In the 335, twin turbochargers up the output to 300 horsepower and 300 pound-feet of torque. Another welcome touch is BMW's sophisticated Double VANOS variable valve-timing system that bolsters low- and mid-range responsiveness while helping make the engine even more efficient.
3.0-liter in-line 6
230 horsepower @ 6500 rpm
200 lb.-ft. of torque @ 2750 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 18/28 (Sedan, manual, 2WD), 19/28 (Sedan, automatic, 2WD), 17/27 (Sports Wagon, manual, 2WD), 18/27 (Sports Wagon, automatic, 2WD), 17/25 (AWD)
3.0-liter in-line 6 twin-turbocharged
300 horsepower @ 5800 rpm
300 lb.-ft. of torque @ 1400-5000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 17/26 (manual, 2WD), 17/26 (automatic, 2WD), 16/25 (manual, 4WD), 17/25 (automatic, 4WD)
By Becky on Saturday, February 21, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 99,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Fun to drive, low profile tires, looks fantastic"
Cons: "No back up cam, limited interior storage"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"Love, love this car... such a pleasure to look at and drive; every time I get in I have fun, and the heated seats just add to that! I've never owned a car that hugged the turns so well, or allowed me to enter traffic and keep up a brisk pace with such ease and confidence. The only drawback is the bucket seat, in that it is a little hard to get in and out of if you're not used to a low profile car. Not good for someone who needs tons of cushioning or who has bad hips let's say. It's a sports car, and that's what makes it awesome! This driving machine is to love and use if that's what you're looking for! Only reason I'm selling it is that we are getting ready to move out west to mountain area, and I need to look at 4WD... sad to let her go, but this is truly a driver's car with good looks and a spectacular engine!!"
5 people out of 7 found this review helpful
By Kats BEEMER on Wednesday, February 18, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 91,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "German Engineering"
Cons: "German Engineering is expensive"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"This car drives like a dream, it zips around town hugging the edges, is sexy. This is the "ultimate" driving experience. I have driven loaner cars while I have had my regular maintenance and I do not like the new models as well. The road handling and power is the best for the price."
By weston on Friday, February 13, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 50,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Great stying, perfomance and comfort"
Cons: "run flat tires expensive and no spare if others"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"This car handles better than any car i've owned and is a blast to drive. It is comfortable around town and on a road trip and has been reliable."
2 people out of 3 found this review helpful
By LadydiNJ on Wednesday, February 04, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 72,090overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Reliable, sporty, a pleasurable drive"
Cons: "maintenance is pricey, but it's a BMW so expected."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"I have owned my 2009 328i since 2012 and to date I have had NO problems with this vehicle. Other than routine maintenance, this car is like easy street. I truly love this car!"
9 people out of 16 found this review helpful
By Wally on Monday, January 19, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 35,000overall rating 2 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"Very poor quality & reliability. I seldom drive the car because I am afraid a warning light will come on."
23 people out of 46 found this review helpful
By Kat on Saturday, January 03, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 106,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Best car ever"
Cons: "Maintenance is ridiculous"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 5
"I absolutely love my car. It was my dream. But not even 2 years later and almost $8,000+ in repairs I just cannot continue. The hardest part is that it's the best car I've ever owned. Fun to drive. Sexy. Comfortable and the drive experience is absolutely amazing. If you can afford to fix the issues it doesn't matter but repairs are outrageous and totally necessary. In looking up reviews sadly I am not the only person with this problem thus my decision to let her go. I may buy another BMW but I will be very wary of what I decide to get.. Sad to let her go :("
33 people out of 48 found this review helpful