2007 BMW 3 Series
Base MSRP: $32,400
Model Code: 0744
Doors: 4 Door
Max Power: 230hp
Satellite Radio – $595
Audio system with satellite  Logic7 Sound System
Logic7 Sound System – $1,200
Harman/kardon stereo RDS audio system with AM/FM, cassette and search/repeat Subwoofers  Satellite Radio
Active Cruise Control – $2,200
Cruise control with distance sensors
Power Front Seats with Driver Memory – $995
Memorized adjustment with three settings on door mirror position with four driver’s seat positions Electrically adjustable passenger and driver seat with height adjustment, lumbar adjustment, five adjustments and tilt adjustment Passenger door mirrors with automatic Smart card / smart key includes central locking, includes memory seat adjustments and includes radio settings
Park Distance Control – $350
Parking distance sensors rear and radar
On Board Navigation System with Voice – $2,100
Navigational systems : information type: arrows and voice and knobs/touch buttons controls DVD Voice activating system includes phone and includes navigation system
BMW Assist with Bluetooth – $750
Telematics 240.00 and 12 Wireless connection Bluetooth
Poplar Natural Wood Trim – $0
Luxury trim wood/woodgrain on doors and wood/woodgrain on dashboard
Aluminum Trim – $0
Luxury trim alloy on doors and alloy on dashboard
Xenon Headlights – $800
Projector beam lens Bi-Xenon headlights Headlight control active
Non Coded Item
Comfort Access – $500
Smart card / smart key automatic, includes central locking and includes ignition starter Available 09/05
Metallic Paint – $475
Metallic paint [J005] Standard Paint Type
Standard Paint Type – $0
Gloss paint [MET] Metallic Paint
Leather Upholstery – $1,450
Leather seat upholstery with additional vinyl
Fold Down Rear Seats with Ski Bag – $475
Folding rear seat center armrest Asymmetrical front facing rear seats
Heated Front Seats – $500
Heated driver and passenger seat
Active Steering – $1,250
Vehicle speed proportional power steering
6-Speed Steptronic Transmission – $1,275
Automatic six-speed transmission with mode select, lock-up, electronic control, manual mode, shift lever on floor, 4.070:1 first gear ratio, 2.370:1 second gear ratio, 1.550:1 third gear ratio, 1.160:1 fourth gear ratio, 0.850:1 fifth gear ratio, 0.670:1 sixth gear ratio and 3.200:1 reverse gear ratio ZF 6 HP and automatic with manual mode
Power Rear Sunshade/Manual Side – $575
Rear electric blind , side manual blind
Body side molding
Body color front and rear bumpers
12v power outlet: front and 1
Remote control remote trunk/hatch release
Front seats cigar lighter
Front and rear ashtray
Delayed/fade courtesy lights
Front and rear reading lights
Illuminated entry system
Cargo area light
Illuminated driver and passenger vanity mirror
Smart card / smart key manual and includes central locking
Luxury trim leather on gearknob, wood/woodgrain on doors and wood/woodgrain on dashboard
Floor covering: carpet in load area
Vinyl seat upholstery with additional vinyl
Front seat center armrest
Rear seat center armrest
Bucket driver and passenger seat with height adjustment and tilt adjustment
Three fixed bench front facing rear seats with zero adjustments
Lockable glove compartment
Refrigerated storage compartment centre console and cooled
Door pockets/bins for driver seat and passenger seat
Front seat back storage
Front seats and rear seats cup holders pop out
Full dashboard console , full floor console with covered storage box
Ventilation system with recirculation setting and micro filter
Passenger seat and rear seats secondary ventilation controls
Air conditioning with climate control and rear outlet
Manufacturer’s own RDS audio system with AM/FM and CD player CD player reads MP3
Steering wheel mounted remote audio controls
Audio anti-theft protection: code and integrated in dash
Service interval indicator
Oil pressure warning light
Door ajar warning
Low fuel level warning
Computer with average speed, average fuel consumption and range for remaining fuel
Low tire pressure indicator
Complex surface lens halogen bulb headlights
Headlight control with time delay switch-off, dusk sensor and auto off with ignition
Front fog lights
Day time running lights
Door entry light
Rear view mirror
Driver and passenger power heated body color door mirrors
Fixed rear window with defogger
Tinted glass on cabin
Heat reflective glass
Windshield wipers with automatic intermittent wipe and rain sensor
Front and rear power windows with two one-touch
Front and rear roof airbag
Driver front airbag with multi-stage deployment , passenger front airbag with occupant sensors and multi-stage deployment
Front side airbag
Two height adjustable head restraints on front seats , three height adjustable head restraints on rear seats
Height adjustable 3-point reel front seat belts on driver seat and passenger seat with pre-tensioners
3-point reel rear seat belts on driver side with pre-tensioners , 3-point reel rear seat belts on passenger side with pre-tensioners , 3-point reel rear seat belts on center side
Warranty and Fixed Charges
Fixed delivery charges: 695
Full car warranty: duration (months): 48 or distance (miles): 50,000
Powertrain warranty: duration (months): 48 or distance (miles): 50,000
Anticorrosion warranty: duration (months): 144 or distance (miles): unlimited
Road-side assistance warranty: duration (months): 48 or distance (miles): unlimited
Trim level: 328
Four-door sedan body style E90
Seating: five seats
2,996 cc 3 liters in-line 6 front engine with 85 mm bore, 88 mm stroke, 10.7 compression ratio, double overhead cam, variable valve timing/camshaft and four valves per cylinder
Power: 172 kW , 230 HP SAE @ 6,500 rpm; 200 ft lb , 271 Nm @ 2,750 rpm
Fuel economy EPA highway (mpg): 30 and EPA city (mpg): 20
Electronic traction control via ABS & engine management
Manual six-speed transmission with shift lever on floor, 4.35:1 first gear ratio, 2.5:1 second gear ratio, 1.66:1 third gear ratio, 1.23:1 fourth gear ratio, 1:1 fifth gear ratio, 0.85:1 sixth gear ratio and 3.93:1 reverse gear ratio manual
Front and rear run flat/punctureproof tires with 205 mm tire width, 55% tire profile and H tire rating official brochure tyre size
Front and rear alloy wheels with 16 inch rim diam and 7 inch rim width
Four disc brakes including four ventilated discs
Electronic brake distribution
Brake assist system
Leather covered multi-function steering wheel with tilt adjustment and tel
Multi-point injection fuel system
Premium unleaded fuel 91
Main premium unleaded fuel tank
Weights: curb weight (lbs) 3,340
External dimensions: overall length (inches): 178.2, overall width (inches): 71.5, overall height (inches): 55.9, wheelbase (inches): 108.7, front track (inches): 59.1 and rear track (inches): 59.6
Internal dimensions: front headroom (inches): 37.4, rear headroom (inches): 37.1, front leg room (inches): 41.5, rear leg room (inches): 34.6, front shoulder room (inches): 55.4, rear shoulder room (inches): 55.1 and interior volume (cu ft): 93
Cargo capacity: all seats in place (cu ft): 12
2007 BMW 3 Series Reviews
If you’re thinking about buying an entry-level luxury car this year, your attention will undoubtedly turn to the 2007 BMW 3 Series, which we consider the top candidate in this class by a significant margin. Whether your priority is an engaging driving experience, an elegant cabin environment or simply curbside prestige, this car delivers in spades. The sedan and wagon were completely redesigned for 2006, and this year the coupe gets the same ground-up makeover. It’s longer and lower than the previous-generation two-door, and with its tidier tail design, it’s arguably more attractive than the sedan. The related 3 Series convertible will initially be absent from the 2007 lineup but will debut at the ’07 Detroit Auto Show sporting a retractable hardtop. We expect sales to begin soon after. The other major development for 2007 is the arrival of a twin-turbocharged six-cylinder engine — it’s the first turbocharged gasoline BMW engine in decades. Standard on the top-line 335i coupe and sedan (which supersede last year’s 330 models), this force-fed 3.0-liter inline-6 foregos the aluminum-magnesium block found in the normally aspirated version in favor of an all-aluminum block. It also uses the latest direct-fuel-injection technology, which improves efficiency and performance by contributing to a cooler intake charge, thus allowing a high 10.2:1 compression ratio. Turbo lag is essentially nonexistent, giving the new engine the feel of a much larger normally aspirated engine. Meanwhile, last year’s 325 models give way to the 328i and 328xi, which still have a 3.0-liter engine but are now rated for 230 hp and 200 pound-feet of torque. All-wheel drive is a new option on the coupe, and unlike last year, buyers have the option of getting a rear-drive wagon. With its extensive array of body styles and drivetrain configurations, the 2007 BMW 3 Series will accommodate just about anybody’s tastes. Want a sport sedan or sport coupe? Go with the twin-turbo engine, a manual gearbox and the optional sport suspension. Or, you can play up the luxury angle by adding the Premium Package and an automatic transmission. Choose all-wheel drive and the compact Bimmer becomes a capable snowbelt car. The major knock against the 3 Series has always been its high price of admission, as comparably equipped versions of the Acura TL, Audi A4, Infiniti G35, Lexus IS, Saab 9-3 and Volvo C70/S40/V50 can all be had for less money — in some cases, substantially less. These cars are all worth considering if you’re mainly looking for a luxury experience, but for those who put driving dynamics above all other concerns, none will satisfy like the BMW 3 Series.
Body Styles, Trim Levels and Options
A compact entry-level luxury car, the 2007 BMW 3 Series is available in coupe, sedan and wagon body styles. (A convertible will rejoin the lineup later in the year.) All body styles come in rear-wheel-drive 328i and all-wheel-drive 328xi trim levels; sedans and coupes are also available in rear-drive 335i form. Standard equipment on the 328 models includes 16-inch alloy wheels, automatic headlights, heated mirrors, a moonroof, leatherette upholstery, real walnut wood trim, automatic climate control, a 10-speaker CD stereo with an input jack for MP3 players, and rain-sensing wipers. Coupe versions of the 328 come with slightly more equipment, including 17-inch wheels, a sport-tuned suspension and xenon headlamps. In addition to their more powerful engine, the 335 models have power front seats and a premium Harman Kardon Logic 7 sound system. Most 3 Series cars you encounter on dealer lots will be equipped with either the Sport or Premium Package, and oftentimes both. The Sport Package specifies a firmer suspension on sedans and wagons, along with larger wheels, performance tires, sport seats and a higher top-speed limiter. The Premium Package provides leather upholstery, a full set of auto-dimming mirrors, Bluetooth connectivity, BMW Assist telematics, and on 328 models, power seats. There’s also the Cold Weather Package, a must if you want heated front seats and headlamp washers. Stand-alone extras include an iDrive-based navigation system with real-time traffic updates, active steering, adaptive cruise control, keyless startup (known as Comfort Access) and satellite radio. You can also replace the standard walnut interior accents with either light poplar or aluminum trim at no additional cost.
Powertrains and Performance
All 328i and 328xi models come with a 3.0-liter inline six-cylinder engine rated for 230 hp and 200 lb-ft of torque. The 335i coupe and sedan come with a heavily modified version of this engine equipped with twin turbochargers and direct injection. Output is an impressive 300 hp and 300 lb-ft of torque. A six-speed manual gearbox is standard across the board, and a six-speed automatic with a manual mode is optional on all 3 Series models. Fuel economy is above average, as rear-drive Bimmers return about 20 mpg in the city and close to 30 on the highway.
Standard safety equipment on the 2007 BMW 3 Series includes antilock disc brakes, dynamic brake control, stability control, run-flat tires, front-seat side airbags and full-length side curtain airbags. The stability control system integrates several features designed to improve braking performance, such as periodically wiping the brake rotors when the windshield wipers are in use (wet brakes don’t stop too well) and snugging the pads to the rotors when the driver lifts off the throttle, which increases brake responsiveness. Rear parking sensors are optional on all 3 Series cars. In NHTSA crash tests, the four-door cars earned four out of five stars for frontal-impact safety and five stars for side-impact safety. In IIHS tests, the four-doors earned a “Good” rating (the best possible) for their protection of occupants in frontal-offset and side-impact crashes.
Interior Design and Special Features
The 3 Series interiors provide a restrained show of luxury. The emphasis, through items such as supportive seats and clean analog gauges, is on driver comfort and involvement. Materials are high in quality and build quality is exceptional; indeed, even the standard leatherette upholstery looks and feels better than one would expect. The front seats have enough firm support to ward off fatigue during a day’s worth of driving, while the rear seats are adequately roomy for adults on shorter trips and plenty accommodating for children. Trunk space is average in sedans and coupes, while the wagon offers a maximum cargo capacity of 61 cubic feet.
There’s no going wrong with either of the engines available in the 2007 BMW 3 Series. The standard, normally aspirated engine is a little light on low-end torque, but it moves the car around smartly and provides slightly better mileage. The new twin-turbo engine provides the kind of acceleration formerly associated with the high-performance M3, launching the 335i coupe and sedan to 60 mph in the mid 5-second range. No matter which model you choose, the 3 Series’ world-class suspension, steering and brakes will provide hours of entertainment on twisty two-lane highways. Beyond simply feeling rock-solid when hustled around turns, this car communicates with the driver in a manner that inspires confidence no matter what kind of driving you’re doing. At
the same time, the 3 Series is an ideal long-distance cruiser, delivering both a comfortably controlled ride and a quiet cabin environment.
The BMW 3 Series coupe returns for 2007 with a twin-turbocharged six-cylinder engine and a sleek new body that puts more aesthetic distance between it and the sedan. Rated for 300 horsepower, that twin-turbo engine also finds its way to the 2007 BMW 3 Series sedan line, where the 330i becomes the 335i but still displaces an even 3.0 liters. Now rated for 230 hp, base 3 Series coupes, sedans and wagons are renamed 328i and, when equipped with all-wheel drive, 328xi. Note that the coupe and wagon can be had in both rear-drive and AWD configurations this year. Equipment changes include a lengthened four-year subscription to BMW Assist telematics on cars with the Premium Package and real-time traffic updates on models with the navigation system. Although the 3 Series convertible will not be part of the lineup initially, a redesigned model with a retractable hardtop is expected to arrive early in the 2007 calendar year.
Still the standard when it comes to perfectly sorted vehicle dynamics, potent and sophisticated engines, high-quality interior materials, wide range of configurations to suit any taste, available all-wheel drive.
More 2007 BMW 3281 and 335i Reviews
If you’re shopping for a smaller luxury sedan that puts a premium on driving satisfaction, the BMW 3 Series remains the place to start. It’s one of the world’s best sports sedans.
For 2007, 3 Series sedans and wagons come with powerful new engines, a couple of new colors and some minor interior tweaks. The 3 Series is expanding for 2007 with the introduction of an all-new, two-door 3 Series coupe and an all-new 3 Series convertible. (The 2007 3 Series Coupe is evaluated in a separate review.)
The 2007 BMW 328i and BMW 335i accelerate more quickly, stop shorter and turn with more lateral grip than any of their predecessors. The current 3 Series sedans are the roomiest ever, with more standard and optional equipment and more sophisticated electronic controls. BMW’s x-Drive all-wheel drive system is available on the 328i.
Yet what characterizes the current 3 Series sedans as much as anything is its high-technology. We presume the car-buying public expects the latest technology in BMW products, and the 3 Series delivers in spades. It’s everywhere in this compact sedan, some of it first in class and some not previously applied in any BMW.
The 2007 BMW 3 Series cars offer Active Steering that actually turns the front wheels without driver intervention, not to mention 150-mile run-flat tires, turning Bi-Xenon headlights, and an optional i-Drive interface. It was the first car in its class to offer radar-managed active cruise control, and even the standard cruise control will automatically apply the brakes if you get too close to a car ahead.
None of this is necessarily a bad thing, but owners of older 3 Series models may wonder where their purist sports sedan went, or at what point all the gizmos start detracting from that sporting character. Rest assured, this remains a true sports sedan, but its sporting heart is a little more difficult to find under all the stuff.
Any 3 Series model still delivers a special mix of performance, practicality and European luxury in a compact package. This car defines sports sedan, and it’s the benchmark every luxury car maker from Acura to Volvo aims at. The 3 Series embodies consistent product character and values, defining what has made BMW one of the most respected brands among car enthusiasts. Above all, the 3 Series is a driver’s car: accelerating, turning and stopping with remarkable agility and balance, without seriously compromising comfort or common sense.
What’s New for 2007: The sedans and wagons get new engines, and a corresponding change in nomenclature. The 325i is replaced by the 328i. The new models have a more powerful version of BMW’s 3.0-liter inline six-cylinder, generating 230 horsepower and 200 pound-feet of torque, for an increase of 15 hp and 15 lb-ft over the previous models. The 2006 330i sedan is replaced by the 2007 BMW 335i, featuring BMW’s new 3.0-liter twin-turbocharged inline-6 producing 300 horsepower and 300 pound-feet of torque. That’s an increase of 45 hp and 80 lb-ft for the 2007 335i sedans and wagons.
BMW’s line of 3 Series sport sedans and wagons includes five distinct models. True to BMW tradition, all are powered by a variant of the company’s inline six-cylinder engine, with a standard six-speed manual transmission. All-wheel drive is offered on both sedan and wagon, and BMW’s six-speed Steptronic automatic ($1,275) is optional on all models.
The BMW 328i ($32,400) and 328xi ($34,300) sedans are powered by a 225-hp 3.0-liter six. This high-tech engine is the first in mass production with a magnesium alloy engine block, to trim weight. It’s light, powerful for its size and fuel efficient. The 328xi comes with BMW’s x-Drive permanent all-wheel drive system.
The 328s comes well equipped, with automatic climate and headlight control, a climate-controlled center console, heated washer nozzles, rain-sensing wipers, a power moonroof, 10-speaker AM/FM/CD and BMW’s self-braking Dynamic Cruise Control. Burr walnut trim is also standard, with BMW’s Leatherette vinyl upholstery. Lighter poplar trim and aluminum are available as no-charge options.
The 328i Sports Wagon ($34,300) and 328xi Sports Wagon ($36,100) are equipped comparably to the sedans, with the 225-hp engine and all-wheel drive for the xi model. The big difference, of course, lies behind rear roof pillars and seats, where the wagons offer more load-carrying potential and versatility than the sedan, with a rear tailgate and rear window that can be opened separately.
The 335i sedan ($38,700) features a twin-turbocharged six-cylinder the generates 300 horsepower. The 335i also adds standard equipment, including eight-way power seats with memory, xenon adaptive headlights that turn into a curve with the car, and BMW’s 13-speaker Logic 7 stereo, with two subwoofers and surround-style digital sound processing.
Beyond the 6-speed automatic transmission, there are three major option groupings. The Premium Package ($2,450 of the 335i, $3150 all other models) adds Dakota leather upholstery and a number of conveniences, including Bluetooth cellular phone interface, power folding side mirrors, a digital compass in the rear-view mirror and hardware for BMW Assist, the telemetric package that provides safety, convenience and concierge services. After the first year, you’ll pay for the subscription.
The Sport Package ($1,500) includes sporting suspension calibrations tuned by BMW’s M performance division, more heavily bolstered sports seats and a wheel/tire upgrade: 17-inch alloys with W-rated performance tires for the 328s; 18-inch for the 335i. Finally, the Cold Weather Package ($600-$1000, depending on model) adds electrically heated seats, high-intensity headlight washers and a split-folding rear seat with ski sack.
BMW’s Active Steering system ($1,250) and radar-managed Active Cruise Control ($2,200) are available as stand-alone options on the 3 Series, as is a DVD-based navigation system ($2,100). Sirius satellite radio hardware ($595), the Logic 7 stereo ($1,200) and power rear-window and manual side rear-window sunshades ($575) are also available as standalone options, as are most of the individual components of the three packages, including the split-folding rear seat ($475) and BMW Assist ($750). BMW also offers various dealer installed accessories. In all, there are more than 600 choices in equipping the 3 Series sedans.
Safety features include dual stage front-impact airbags that deploy at different rates depending on the severity of impact, front side-impact airbags and full-cabin head protection airbags. BMW no longer offers rear side-impact airbags on the 3 Series, on the basis that few buyers took the option, and t
hat the protective benefit does not exceed the risk of airbag related injuries.
Active safety features, designed to help the driver avoid collisions, include Dynamic Stability Control and the latest generation antilock brakes. The ABS preloads the brake pedal when the driver suddenly lifts off the gas pedal, and includes a feature that lightly sweeps the brake discs dry every 1.5 seconds when it’s raining.
The 2007 BMW 328i and 335i sedans are recognizable as BMWs in an evolutionary way, but they are substantially different from the more familiar, previous-generation models.
For starters, they are the largest 3 Series cars ever. They’re more than two inches longer and three inches wider, and wheelbase has increased 1.4 inches. Most of the increased exterior dimensions translate into more interior space, particularly in the back seat.
The 3 Series shares many of its design features with BMW’s other sedans. Some critics claim the 3 Series has been spared: that it has not suffered from some of the styling excess in BMW’s current 5 and 7 Series. Certainly the approach with the 3 Series has been more conservative, and it’s easy to understand why. This car accounts for nearly half of BMW’s income. Nonetheless, spared is not a word we’d use.
The 3 Series has BMW’s traditional double beam headlights, now under clear covers that wrap around the corners and taper to a point to emphasize the car’s width. In profile, the sedan’s front and rear overhangs seem even shorter than before. The hood line continues past the windshield pillars all the way to the rear, while the roof line is rounder than before.
Design is the most subjective of all automotive traits, and clearly the 328i and 335i retain some basic BMW qualities or character. Yet in certain respects they also look more generic than their predecessors. The sides are basically flat planes with a single crease below the door pulls and above the wheel wells, but the ends of the car are busier, and we’ve yet to discover cohesion to the design. Particularly in rear view there are lots of lines, and in this aspect the 3 looks as if it might have been designed in Asia rather than Munich. In short, we’re still getting used it.
One thing is certain. Larger wheels and tires filling the wheel wells are almost always a good thing for appearance’s sake, and we like the 328i and 335i better with the wheel upgrades (to 17-inch on the 328i and 18-inch on the 335i). The 335i can be distinguished from the 328i by more than its wheels. The 335i’s windows and grille slats are trimmed with chrome, while that slats across its lower front air intakes are body colored rather than black.
The high-tech theme that permeates the 3 Series sedans is even visible from the outside. The 335i comes standard with adaptive bi-xenon headlights that turn with the steering wheel to aim into a curve. All models have BMW’s adaptive brake lights, which are based on the idea that drivers in the cars following a 3 Series will know when the 3 is attempting a panic stop just by the brake lights. The LED lights illuminate more intensely, over a larger area, when the driver applies the brakes full-lock or when the ABS operates.
The trunk is larger than ever. With 12 cubic feet of space, it gives the 3 Series sedan a trunk that’s more competitive, if not best in class. Moreover, the trunk opening is considerably larger, making it easier to get things inside, and the additional trunk volume does not count a new divided storage bin under the load floor (where a spare might have gone, if not for the 3 Series’ run-flat tires). There’s also a drawer hanging under the rear interior shelf to take better advantage of what is often useless space. The sedan is also available with a split-folding rear seat and ski sack, which expands cargo space into the rear of the cabin.
Redesigned for the 2006 model year, the 3 Series Sport Wagon is identical to the sedan from the center roof pillar forward. Rearward, its roofline tapers slightly all the way to the rear of the car, while the bottom line of the rear windows tapers upward slightly, creating something a of teardrop shape. Roof rails are standard.
The wagon’s rear gate opens electrically, with a switch on the key fob or dashboard, and swings high for easy access to the load floor. A reflector on the bottom of the gate adds an element of safety in darkness. The glass rear window opens separately, which is convenient for quickly loading a lightweight items.
What’s New for 2007: Climate control knobs in the 3 Series sedan are now trimmed with the same Galvanic Silver plastic that surrounds the start button. The three-spoke steering wheel with the Sport Package is finished with the same material.
The 3 Series cabin takes the best of several ideas introduced in the larger BMW 5 Series and 7 Series sedans, synthesizes them for a smaller car and improves them in the process. We aren’t completely enamored with everything inside, but we have few real gripes.
The 3 Series sedans no longer have a keyed ignition switch, relying instead on a slot-type key fob and a starter button. We don’t love it. It sometimes seems balkier than a regular key. The fob slides into a slot next to the steering column, and you push the button to fire up. The benefit of this design? We’re not sure. The Comfort Access option makes everything automatic: With fob in pocket, the doors unlock automatically as the driver approaches, and the seats are waiting in their proper position. The driver just pushes the start button, and pushes it again when it’s time to get out. These systems are not our favorite feature and sometimes seem like the answer to a question no one is asking.
Seats have long been 3 Series strength, and the new ones are better than ever. Even the standard-trim front buckets provide excellent support without feeling too hard. The manual adjustments work great, though we recommend using them when the car is parked. The 335i gets power adjustments with three memory positions and they are coded to the key. The power seats that come with the Sport Package are outstanding. Additional back and bottom bolstering make them a bit harder to slide into, but we’d rather have them during a spirited drive.
The instrument panels have a pronounced horizontal format, with more community and less driver orientation than before. There are actually two: The standard setup has a single bubble, or hood, over the instrument cluster, while the optional navigation system has a dash that accommodates the system with a second hood.
The front door panels are different on each side, as well. The passenger side has a sloped, vertical door pull, while the driver’s door lays the door pull horizontally in the arm rest. Moreover, the new doors address one of our biggest gripes with previous 3 Series cars. Window switches are now clustered near the driver’s arm rest, where they’re easier to locate without glancing, rather than spread around the shifter on the center console.
The soft vinyls and plastics in the 3 Series sedans are an improvement in both touch and appearance compared to previous generations, and they put the car more closely in line with the best cars in this class. Burr walnut trim is now standard, and there’s a lot of it on the dash and doors. BMW’s Leatherette vinyl is not the least bit tacky. The optional leather is soft and thick. The new 3 Series follows BMW’s tradition of soft orange backlighting for the instruments. Some will like it, some won’t.
The automatic climate control that comes standard features separate temperature adjustments for driver and front passenger. A mist sensor measures moisture on the windshield and automatically adjusts the defroster, while a heat-at-rest feature keeps the cabin heating on for a time after the car is turned off.
The standard in-dash single-CD player is easy to operate and sounds good, with 10 speakers and separate subwoofers under the front seats. The orange readout on it is almost invisible when wear
ing polarized sunglasses on a sunny day, even though similar orange readouts for the climate control are perfectly readable. Switching between AM and FM and other modes is difficult and complicated while driving. The 335i comes with an upgraded system called Logic 7. This system adds wattage and three speakers, with the latest digital sound processing and surround technology. Audio controls on the steering wheel work well, once they’re mastered.
BMW’s multi-layer, mouse-style iDrive interface is optional in the 3 Series sedans, but if you want the DVD-based GPS navigation system, you’ll have to take iDrive. We’d probably do without the navigation system just to avoid iDrive. We hate it, and have encountered few people who remotely like iDrive. We cannot to figure out how to perform simple tasks on iDrive such as calling up a map of the area on the navigation system or pre-setting radio stations without consulting the owners manual. We would not opt for iDrive on a 3 Series car and we would consider not purchasing a BMW 6 Series or 7 Series car just to avoid iDrive.
However, in certain respects the 3 Series cabin is more user-friendly than ever. There are more storage pockets and nooks than before, and those in the doors are much larger. The new climate-controlled center console is a huge improvement, in both function and appearance. So are the cupholders.
Rear-seat accommodations are substantially improved over pre-2006 models, as well. For starters, the rear air vents can be separately adjusted for both temperature and air volume. There’s more space, particularly in front of the knees. Remember: this is still a compact car, and rear passengers with long torsos will still feel hair rubbing on the headliner. The center position is still best left to children. Nonetheless, the rear seat feels more spacious than before, and puts the 3 Series on better footing with the roomiest cars in the class. Compared with a mid-size car, though, rear-seat accommodations are not a strength.
With improved cargo capability, the 328i Sports Wagon is an alternative to a small SUV. From the handling, accelerating or braking standpoints, it gives up nothing the 328i sedan, and it adds a dimension of utility. Cargo volume increases from 12 cubic feet in the sedan’s trunk to 24.8 cubic feet, floor to ceiling, with the rear seat in place. With the rear seat folded forward, the 3 Series wagon can swallow 60.9 cubic feet of stuff, or more than the typical small SUV and slightly more than the larger BMW 5 Series wagon. The load area is flat, too, which is good for dogs and cargo. The cargo area in the wagon is fully lined with thick, soft carpet, and it’s full of convenient features, including separate enclosed bins, cargo straps, bag holders, a power point, a cargo cover at seat height and a roll-out cargo net. The wagon is available with all-wheel drive, giving it good winter-weather capability.
BMW’s 3 Series has always been about the driving. It has many of the attributes of a sports car with the practicality of a sedan. It offers rear-wheel drive and manual transmissions in a class increasingly dominated by front-wheel drive and automatics. Driving has never been much better than the 3 Series, or at least not with seating for five, decent mileage and a high level of all-season comfort.
BMW’s x-Drive permanent all-wheel-drive system greatly enhances all-season capability, not a traditional strength of these cars. The x-Drive delivers most of the power to the rear wheels most of the time, maintaining the sporting feel associated with rear-wheel drive.
The 2007 3 Series sedans are true to their predecessors, with a couple of caveats, in our view. The typical BMW buyer will likely appreciate the technology built into the new 3, and particularly the electronic skid-control wizardry. Enthusiasts, however, may pine that the 3 Series’ purity has been lost.
The heart of any BMW is its engine, and those in the new 3 Series are first rate. They remain true to BMW’s commitment to straight or inline six-cylinders, as other manufacturers have switched almost exclusively to V6s. The straight six presents more packaging challenges, but its unique performance characteristics and smoothness make it a favorite among enthusiast drivers.
In both the 328i and 335i sedans, the engine is fantastic. No one will feel short-changed on performance if they make the more economical choice of the 328i. Either engine delivers quick acceleration by any standard: 0-60 mph times of 6.3 seconds for the 328i and 5.4 seconds for the 335i when equipped with manual transmissions, according to BMW.
We found the 328i fun to drive, with good throttle response that made us feel a class above other cars in traffic. Our bright red 328i sedan had the manual, which was smooth and precise, easy and enjoyable to flick between gears. It was also quick and easy shifting from first to reverse and back when parking. Clutch pedal effort made taking off easy, without having to think about it. Shifting was so easy that the clutch didn’t need to be fully depressed.
The 335i is, however, particularly enjoyable, with an engine that’s stronger than any 3 Series engine before, short of the limited production M3s. What’s best is its linear quality, or the steady supply of acceleration-producing torque at any speed. There’s more torque down low than before, but the new engine pulls like a sprinter all the way to its 6800-rpm redline and never misses a step. Moreover, the joy of a straight six isn’t hidden under the high tech. It sounds great, with an emphasis on clean mechanical noise from the engine bay rather than the tone of the muffler.
The manual transmission is great, too. The shifter seems to have slightly shorter throws between the gears than before, and its operation is appropriate to a world-class sports sedan. The sixth gear adds even more flexibility to the 335i’s power band and lowers engine revs at cruising speeds.
The automatic we liked a bit less, but it’s hardly disappointing. With six speeds, the same advantages apply here as with the manual. The automatic can be a bit slow to react with an appropriate gear change in Normal mode, but leaving it Sport mode pretty much solves the problem, with a slight payback in more abrupt shifting. Then there is the Steptronic manual mode, which allows manual gear selection by toggling the shift lever to the left. No problem with shift response when you do it yourself.
The other half of the 3 Series equation has always been ride and handling. This is the prototypical sports sedan, or about as close as you can get to sports car driving dynamics in a practical sedan. For 40 years, the 3 Series had defined that mix: rear-wheel drive, great steering feel and balance between the front and rear axles. Moreover, the 3 had always delivered an impressive balance between ride and handling. The fun never comes at the expense of beating up the passengers inside.
The 328i and 335i sedans ultimately hold true to this heritage, as we first discovered on a slick race track in rural Spain. The perfect balance front to rear, the right touch of suspension compliance, the smooth torque delivery is all there, and for the better part of an afternoon we clipped apexes and managed power slides and just had a ball. We had to turn off all the gizmos to do it, however.
The 3 Series suspension layout is borrowed from the larger 5 Series sedan, with double-joint aluminum control arms in front and a five-link fully independent system in the rear. This is trick stuff, but it’s nothing compared to the electronics that manage everything. The 3 has BMW’s most advanced Dynamic Stability Control chassis electronics yet, with more sensors measuring more things than ever before. It also more aggressively integrates BMW’s Active Steering into the skid-control scheme.
Active Steering is designed to eliminate the compromises inherent in conventional fixed-ratio rack-and-pinion steering. Active Steering speeds the steering up to reduce steering input
, or sawing on the wheel, at low speeds, and slows it down at high speeds so a sneeze or twitch doesn’t dramatically turn the wheels and send the car drifting toward a concrete abutment. BMW’s active system has an electrically operated transmission on the steering shaft. It reduces steering wheel movement from three turns lock-to-lock in the old 3 Series sedan to 1.66 turns in the new one.
But there’s more to the active steering story. The motor that varies the steering ratio is wired into DSC, which measures a bunch of things, including road speed, wheel rotational speed, steering angle, yaw rate and lateral acceleration, as it thinks about what it should do. If something is amiss, say if DSC senses that a particular wheel is losing traction, it will react by applying the brake at that wheel or reducing engine power in an effort to keep the car going in the intended direction. With Active Steering in the new 3 Series, DSC also can change the steering angle. Not only does it make it easier to park at Macy’s or help manage the risks of an arm twitch at autobahn speed. It also helps drive the car by making fairly significant steering corrections without driver input, or even driver awareness, or perceptible feedback on the steering wheel.
All that understood, we still would not check the Active Steering option ($1,250), even if we didn’t have to pay for it. For starters, the standard DSC without active steering is more than aggressive enough to help diligent drivers manage a skid. On dry pavement, it’s not easy for a reasonably skilled driver to deliberately loop the car. On the road the Active Steering mutes the great steering feel that has ensconced the 3 Series so firmly in enthusiast drivers’ hearts.
The 3 Series is best at high speed, where it feels pretty much like a BMW. Going slower, on twisting back roads, it doesn’t feel like a BMW. The steering has a lot of weight at moderate speeds, but not much feel, and at times it feels too quick. Compared to the previous 3 Series sedans, it can be more difficult to place the front tires exactly where you want them, and it can be harder to go smoothly.
Braking is excellent. The stopping capability and fade resistance are as magnificent as they’ve ever been. The 3 Series sedans have even larger brake rotors than those built before 2006. Now, however, the brake pads move within a hair of the rotors if the driver suddenly releases the gas pedal, even if the driver hasn’t yet considered slamming on the brakes. The pads also lightly sweep the rotors every few seconds if it’s raining, just to be sure there is no significant moisture build up.
Bottom line, the 3 Series sedans are great performers, impressive cars and technological tours de force. If price is remotely an issue, don’t have a second thought about choosing the 328i. It has as much power as most drivers will ever need, and it delivers the same inherent goodness as the 335i, without much less really useful stuff. Indeed, we wouldn’t recommend options such as Active Steering or Active Cruise Control except to die-hard fanatics for the latest technology.
The BMW 3 Series sedans and wagons remain the benchmark for the class, particularly for those who derive satisfaction from the driving experience. These cars are loaded with technical wizardry. But all this technology can be a double-edged sword, at least to old-time 3 Series buyers. Yet rear-wheel drive and manual transmissions remain crucial components of the 3 Series experience, and BMW’s commitment to the combination says something about its priorities as a car company. By virtually every objective measure, from space to horsepower to performance, these are the best 3 Series sedans ever.
Model Line Overview
Model lineup: BMW 328i sedan ($32,400); 328xi sedan ($34,300); 328i wagon ($34,200); 328xi wagon ($36,100); 335i sedan ($38,700)
Engines: 230-hp 3.0-liter inline-6; 300-hp twin turbocharged 3.0-liter inline-6
Transmissions: 6-speed manual; 6-speed Steptronic automatic
Safety equipment (standard): dual front airbags with two-stage deployment, seat mounted front passenger side-impact airbags, full-cabin head protection airbags, tire-pressure monitoring system, traction control, anti-lock brakes, Dynamic Stability Control and post-impact system to unlock doors, switch on hazard and interior lighting and disable fuel pump
Safety equipment (optional): all-wheel drive
Basic warranty: 4 years/50,000 miles
Assembled in: Munich, Germany
Specifications As Tested
Model tested (MSRP): BMW 328i sedan ($32,400)
Standard equipment: leatherette upholstery, burr walnut trim, automatic climate control with dual passenger/driver temperature and micro filter, climate-controlled center console, cruise control, power windows, remote keyless entry, leather-wrapped steering wheel with tilt/telescoping steering column, rain-sensing variable-speed wipers, halogen foglights, two-way power moonroof, 16-inch wheels with H-rated tires
Options as tested (MSRP): Sport Package ($1600) includes M sports suspension, 17-inch wheels with W-rated tires, power sport seats and155-mph speed-limiter; Premium Package ($3,150) includes Dakota leather upholstery, Bluetooth cell phone interface, power folding side mirrors with reverse tilt-down feature on passenger side, digital mirror compass and BMW Assist telematics; Cold Weather Package ($1,000) includes electrically heated seats, high-intensity headlight washers and split-folding rear seat with ski sack; Active Steering ($1250)
Destination charge: ($695)
Gas guzzler tax: N/A
Price as tested (MSRP): $40,095
Layout: rear-wheel drive
Engine: 3.0-liter double overhead cam 24-valve inline-6 with variable valve timing
Horsepower (hp @ rpm): 230 @ 6500
Torque (lb.-ft. @ rpm): 200 @ 2750
Transmission: 6-speed manual
EPA fuel economy, city/hwy: 20/29 mpg
Wheelbase: 108.7 in.
Length/width/height: 178.2/71.5/55.9 in.
Track, f/r: 59.1/59.6 in.
Turning circle: 36.1 ft.
Seating capacity: 5
Head/hip/leg room, f: 38.5/NA/41.5 in.
Head/hip/leg room, m: N/A
Head/hip/leg room, r: 37.5/NA/34.6 in.
Cargo volume: 12.0 cu. ft.
Towing capacity: N/A
Suspension, f: independent, double-pivot lower control arms, coil springs, twin-tube shocks, anti-roll bar
Suspension, r: independent five-link, coil springs, twin-tube shocks, anti-roll bar
Ground clearance: N/A
Curb weight: 3340 lbs.
Tires: 225/45WR17 / 255/40WR17 run flat
Brakes, f/r: 11.8-in. ventilated disc/11.8-in ventilated disc with ABS