Second Place – BMW 335i xDrive Sport
A shoddy sportscaster calling game seven of the World Series might have a hard time spewing out more clichés than automotive websites do when the subject matter is the BMW 3 Series. ‘Class defining’, ‘industry standard’, ‘the car every other manufacturer strives to beat’, so on and so on. Yeah, we all get it; the BMW 3 Series has long been the car that best combines sports and luxury.
But BMW redesign the 3 Series last year and, much to horror of current owners, headed in a slightly different direction. The focus on driving dynamics was dialed back while more of an emphasis was put on passenger comfort and luxury. Did BMW ruin the secret formula that has worked for so long?
STILL A GREAT LUXURY SPORTS SEDAN
Well, judging from the 335i’s second place finish, we would have to say no. It may be a little less crisp than 3ers of the past, but it is still a great vehicle. Most notably is the engine. The 300 hp turbocharged inline-6 was voted second best in this group and offers tons of power, instant thrust and nearly no lag. The 8-speed automatic is a great transmission and is easily the best conventional automatic transmission here. It cracks off quick downshifts and is nearly flawless in operation. This is the closest thing to a dual-clutch transmission.
Like many of the other competitors here, the 335i xDrive Sport has an adjustable suspension. In comfort mode the BMW rivals the C350 for sereneness, but slap it over to sport mode and the 335i xDrive hunkers down, gets serious and becomes a playful automobile willing to hang the tail out slightly in the corners. Sadly, the amazing steering feel found in BMWs of yesteryear is gone as this Bimmer only offers class average feel.
See Also: 2012 BMW 328i Review – Video
The exterior of the new 3 Series is still a point of controversy as many find it a bit plain or awkward looking. The two-tone interior though gets out nod, however, for its fresh, inviting and modern look. The controls are easy to use and the front seat is comfortable. The back seat is even more so with plenty of extra space compared to past generations.
Improved comfort and refinement is a reoccurring theme of the new 3. Yes it has traded in a bit of driver engagement for this comfort, but the 3 Series remains a great car; good enough to finish second in our comparison.
- ENGINE: 3.0 L turbocharged inline-6, 300 hp and 300 lb-ft
- TRANSMISSION: 8-speed automatic
- FUEL ECONOMY: 23 mpg city and 28 mpg highway
- PRICE: Base price – $45,150. As tested price – $53,895