Roadshow Video Reviews
2012 BMW 328iThe newest BMW goes back to the future with a four-banger.
When the 3 series first hit the US, it was a 2 liter 4. Guess what? It is again. Let's drive the 2012 328i and check the text. I love the look of the new 3 as I do the new 5 it resembles heavily. BMW has mostly shaken off those bad days of some really ugly cars and delivered a 3 that it once presents both upscale and sporty. Now let's get a look around the cabin of this new 3. Couple things will stand out to you. It's mostly familiar but check out the screen. That's different. It's not a pop up, it's not a swivel up, it's a different design that you'll see on just about any other car maker. It is a stand up, fixed sort of a tablet. Now what is interesting about this to me, it's still a wide screen, it's still the same I Drive interface but notice how high it is. The midline is actually at the top of the gauges. It's the highest thing in terms of eye line in the car. This seems to dovetail nicely if only by sheer coincidence, with those new federal guidelines that have suggested saying everything in the car that is interface oriented should be as high as possible on the eye line and it's centered as possible over the steering yoke to keep that driver looking where they're going. This goes a long way to get there. But here's what's really new. Connected Drive, this gets into a lot of stuff. First of all BMW F. That is a connected drive app you put on your iPhone that brings you Facebook, Twitter, web radio streaming of kind of a generic sort. It's not Pandora, it's Podify, it's not Mog. And you've got plug in technology like iPod out which with you connect your iPhones for example her in the cradle and get a really nice not exactly (faceable?) but very similar Apple like interface for accessing it. In here on the console, standard aux as well as the USB for thumb drives and or iOS devices. There's the cradle of course where the iPhone lives. Now we also have on this car a head up display optionally installed. I can get my navigation prompts, I can get speed, I can see media information, I can see warning messages about the state of the car. The thing that's interesting is in the website materials and their promotional stuff. They show that in full color. This one's either just white in the day or orange at night, not sure if I'm missing something. We recognize this goofy looking BMW paddle shifter these days. It's all pretty standard stuff. It also gets over here to a gate for manual shifting and right next to that are those drive profile buttons. But looks how they changed. Now we've got EcoPro and then you've got comfort which is the standard setting and then you've got sports. The eco one's the most interesting. This gets a. of choices. You can set speed warnings, limits on speed that you drive and also tell the climate control to behave in a way that puts less drag on the engine. now this thing here shows your eco potential. It's kind of like what you see in a lot of the Asian cars where they let you grow leaves, (Ford?) which should do that too as well as Hyundai and then over here you've also got sort of a dynamic current eco driving bar graph at the bottom. When you're not in eco mode, it goes through a more conventional instantaneous MPG display. And finally we have efficient dynamics. That means that when you brake in this car, it helps to regen the battery, allowing the alternator to send less time dragging on the engine to regen the battery. Now once we start driving, you're gonna find out why I love this button. It became my best friend real fast. This is the one that turns off the automatic start stop technology. Okay, here's what seems to be really interesting on this car. We're back to a (forced?) owner on the 3 series. This is a 2 liter turbo, twin power turbo means a single turbo charger with a twin scroll so it can work optimized at different bands of the rpm range. Direct injection, that's all the rave as well. This is a combination of (exodus?), making the gas engine a rock star again. Here are the numbers, 240 horse, 260 (rowdy?) foot pounds of torque. It's this 3400 pound car to 60 in a very trim and tight 5.7 seconds while delivering 2436 ETI estimate. Now one of the first things you're gonna notice when you're driving this 328 with this 4 cylinder is the start stop technology. Not unheard of in German cars these days, but it was for the longest time, but coming to a stop here and the engines had shut down. There we go. Okay, when it does that, the car bucks back and forth. What the hell is that? Then when I lift off, it'll restart. Vroom. Makes. this engine starting sound and you'd say, sure, it should make an engine starting sound, the engine is staring. The problem is, I just drove the Camry Hybrid a few days ago. That also has auto start stop. The difference is, you don't notice it. It's quicker than this, quieter and smoother. And that car cost as little as half what this one does, depending on configurations. So yeah, I got tired of that real quick and that's why my best friend is the auto start stop off button. On the plus side, the comfort mode is very nicely tuned in terms of throttle response, the way the car behaves overall, the full power train behavior becomes just where I would want it for everyday driving and then when you go to sport mode, this guy's got some guts. That 260 foot pounds of torque is all there with very little turbo lag. In fact, I'd almost say none. This car stays on cam really nicely for a turbo. But when you do tap into the power. engine like this, it's kind of a grindy sounding affair. Put it this way and they're gonna hate to hear this, it ain't no Audi. That smoothness isn't in this engine. It's not characteristic of a 3 series which has become a kind of a mid level very nice car. Finally that interface screen, the one right there in front of you, that is really outstandingly well engineered. It's now in the periphery of a proper driving view whereas to have that a little lower, a little more central in the console takes it out of your periphery. That's the key step towards reducing driver eye off the road distraction. All right, now a 2012 328i, this Turbo Ford is gonna hit you about 36 base and they go well up from there. This car is about 50 grand it doesn't even have every option. But here are the key ones that I'd look at. The BMW app sets $250. You got an iPhone? You've got to get that. There's a tech package for about 2500 that's gonna bring you their excellent navigation system even though I'm kind of cool in factoring an app and the head up display which has done so well