The 3 Series is offered in sedan, Sports Wagon and Gran Turismo body styles. Sedans are offered in 320i, 330i, and 340i variants, plus 328d diesel and 330e i Performance hybrid models. The 320i makes 180 horsepower from a 2.0L turbocharged 4-cylinder engine. The 330i also utilizes a turbocharged 2.0L, this time making 248 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. The 340i offers a 320-horsepower 3.0L turbocharged six. Meanwhile, the 328d and 330e also make use of a turbocharged 2.0L. In the 328d, the engine is a diesel and makes 180 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque. The 330e i Performance hybrid augments the power of the 2.0L turbo with an electric motor, for a total 248 horsepower, which is enough to accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in 5.9 seconds.
All engines employ twin-scroll turbocharging for quick response and strong torque output just above idle, which makes them feel like much larger engines. New-generation 8-speed automatic transmissions help the cars achieve excellent mileage, too.
Wagons and Gran Turismo models are offered exclusively with BMW's xDrive all-wheel-drive system, with wagon models including the 330i and 328d and the Gran Turismo range consisting of the 330i and 340i.
Double-pivot type front suspension uses spring struts and an anti-roll bar, while the rear is sprung with a 5-link setup with cast aluminum upper transverse arms. High-performance 4-wheel ventilated disc brakes with anti-lock braking, dynamic brake control and cornering brake control are also standard.
The M3 is seen by BMW as a separate model altogether, although it's essentially a top-performance model based on the sedan. It comes with a 425-horsepower, twin-turbocharged 3.0L straight-six and a 6-speed manual or optional 7-speed M Double Clutch Transmission. Compound cross-drilled brakes are also included, as are an M variable differential lock and an M Drive button that allows saving personalized settings as is an adjustable electronic damping control with an optimized M Dynamic Mode.
BMW 3 Series models have auto start-stop, which shuts the engine off at stop lights and quickly starts it again when the brake is released. There's also a Driving Dynamics Control system, to customize driving specifics, with Comfort, Sport, Sport+ and Eco Pro modes.
3 Series Sports Wagon models are distinguished by their elongated roofline and exemplary utility and versatility compared to the other models. Available in 330i and 328d trims, Sport Wagons feature comparable trims and materials to sedans, yet offer four cargo-floor tie-downs, a storage tray under the floor, a deep stowage compartment and a partition net, all to help keep cargo secure, while the rear seatbacks can be folded down as needed in three separate sections, with a 40/30/40 split. Compared to the last-generation wagon, there's more width between the wheel arches and a wide tailgate opening, scuff plates and available racking systems for outdoor gear or storage boxes help make the most of it. A Top View rearview camera system and a BMW Parking Assistant are there to help with visibility and make parking easier.
The 3 Series Gran Turismo is very well equipped, with standard comfort and entertainment amenities like rain-sensing windshield wipers, 8-way power front sport seats, a multi-function sport steering wheel with audio, cruise and Bluetooth controls, automatic climate control, power panoramic moonroof and BMW's iDrive system with integrated 6.5-inch touchpad and an automatic tailgate.
Most of the 3 Series lineup is offered in Sport Line, Luxury Line and Modern Line versions, with each of these distinguished by separate trims, materials and details. There's also an M Sport package that brings an entire set of appearance features that give a nod to the M3 in appearance -- and add a firmer M Sport suspension.
Major options include a variable-ratio steering system, the Adaptive M Suspension, a heads-up display, Active Blind Spot Detection, lane departure warning and a high-beam assistant. A rear-view camera Surround View feature and automatic adaptive xenon headlamps are also available.
M Performance models are the middle children in BMW's portfolio, yet they often represent the best of what this German automaker offers. These M-lite cars deliver much more excitement than their mainstream counterparts while being far more livable than full-M vehicles, which usually trade too much comfort and livability for modestly enhanced speed and grip. In contrast, M Performance models are all about balance, and thus the best overall experience in the 3 Series range is the 2022 BMW M340i xDrive, an engaging and refined luxury sports sedan with all-weather grip.
The current-generation 3 Series is getting on in years, and the car certainly feels it in some areas. The interior is nothing to write home about, with its humdrum soft plastics and aluminum accents. The backseat is also unreasonably tight and difficult to get into and out of because of the narrow door openings and wide sills. Compared to rivals like the Mercedes-Benz C-Class and even , the M340i's cabin is pretty mediocre, but at least its front seats are supportive and ergonomic. This example also features black leather embellished with blue stitching, a $1,450 extra that adds some much-needed visual pop to an otherwise dour interior.
Still, this upgrade is hardly my tester's most expensive option -- that honor goes to the Daytona Violet Metallic paint job, a $4,500 special-edition color that looks great and totally stands out from surrounding traffic. Seriously, how often do you see purple cars?
The range-topping XM is expected to arrive in 2023.
BMW's first bespoke M car in decades, the XM SUV is a performance flagship for the future.
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