2014 BMW 3 Series Introduction

The 2014 BMW 3 Series lineup expands dramatically with a new Gran Turismo, a new Sports Wagon, a new diesel-powered model, and the availability of xDrive all-wheel drive. The sedans were completely redesigned for the 2012 model year, and the 3 Series lineup is now in its sixth generation.

The 2014 BMW 3 Series Gran Turismo is larger and roomier than the previous-generation version and is available in all-wheel-drive BMW 328i xDrive and BMW 335i xDrive variants. Also joining the 3 Series lineup is the 2014 BMW 328i xDrive Sports Wagon, which has been updated with the latest-generation architecture and a choice of two engines: the same 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder gasoline engine found in the 328i sedan, or an all-new diesel version.

The new diesel engine, available on both the sedan and wagon, is a 2.0-liter TwinPower four-cylinder that makes 180 horsepower and 280 pound feet of torque, the latter available at just 1750 rpm. The diesel-powered BMW 328d sedan comes with the standard rear-wheel drive or xDrive all-wheel drive. All BMW 328d Sports Wagons come with xDrive all-wheel drive.

As is typical with diesel power, fuel economy is admirable in the BMW 328d sedan and wagon. Rear-wheel-drive 328d sedans are EPA-rated 32/45 mpg City/Highway, and the 328d xDrive sedan and wagon are rated 31/43 mpg City/Highway.

Also new for 2014 is BMW Assist eCall, an emergency crash notification system, as standard equipment on all its 3 Series models, along with 10 years of service. Previously, the eCall services were only available when bundled with certain optional packages.

The 3 Series coupe and convertible have been discontinued for 2014, and are replaced by the all-new BMW 4 Series. A new high-performance M3 is scheduled to reappear later for 2014, after taking a hiatus for one model year. Sedans, all-new for 2012, carry over basically unchanged for 2014.

The most affordable car in the lineup, the BMW 320i, uses a less powerful version of the 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine found in the 328i with a modest 180 horsepower and 200 pound-feet of torque. The 2014 BMW 320i earns an EPA-estimated 23/36 mpg City/Highway with the 6-speed manual transmission and 24/36 mpg City/Highway with the automatic. All-wheel-drive BMW 320i xDrive models are automatic-only and achieve 23/35 mpg City/Highway.

One of our favorites is the BMW 328i, with the turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-4 making 240 horsepower and 255 pound-feet of torque. This version accelerates from 0 to 60 mph in 5.9 seconds with 8-speed automatic or in just 5.7 seconds with 6-speed manual. The same feat takes the Audi A4 2.0T 6.5 seconds. The BMW 328i achieves an EPA-estimated 22/35 mpg City/Highway with the 6-speed manual, and 23/33 mpg City/Highway with the automatic on both RWD and AWD models.

Most powerful is the BMW 335i, with a turbocharged 3.0-liter inline-6 that makes 300 horsepower and 300 pound-feet of torque. Transmission choices are the same 6-speed manual or 8-speed automatic, with a 0-60 mph time of just 5.4 seconds with either gearbox. Fuel economy estimates are just 20/30 mpg City/Highway with 6-speed manual, but an impressive 23/33 mpg with the 8-speed automatic. AWD models get 20/28 mpg with the manual and 20/30 mpg with the automatic. Premium gasoline is required for all 3 Series models.

ActiveHybrid3 is a 3 Series model that combines an electric motor and lithium-ion battery with the 335i’s 3.0-liter six-cylinder engine and 8-speed automatic transmission. It’s good for 335 net horsepower and 330 pound-feet of torque. It works well, but it only slightly bests the fuel efficiency of the gasoline-powered models: ActiveHybrid3 is EPA-rated 25/33 mpg City/Highway. Considering the near-$15,000 price premium, we recommend the 328i or new 328d for the best combination of performance and frugality. ActiveHybrid3 may beat them in terms of emissions, however.

The 2014 BMW 3 Series sedan remains the benchmark among luxury sport compact cars such as the Mercedes-Benz C-Class, Audi A4, and Lexus IS. The BMW 328i xDrive Sports Wagon is most closely matched by the Audi allroad. Though all offer similar dimensions and features, none can quite match the weight balance and performance-oriented dynamics of the BMW. The new Cadillac ATS is perhaps the closest contender on the racetrack, though its angular American styling is in sharp contrast to the German and Japanese cars. The 3 Series Gran Turismo lacks any apples-to-apples competitors, though it’s a viable alternative for drivers who want more space without the stigma of a station wagon.

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