Performance, ride and handling

Despite its 328i moniker suggesting a 2.8-litre motor, the mid-range 3 Series is powered by a 2-litre motor tuned for 245bhp. BMW had given it the 328i moniker to reflect the engine’s output rather than the ‘28’ representing 2.8-litre so perhaps the brand should start renaming their variants with power outputs rather than misleading numbers after the model series’ number.

The engine displaces 1997cc and is basically the same unit found in the 320i as well. Unlike the 184bhp 320i, the 328i’s turbocharged four-pot, aided by technologies like direct injection, VALVETRONIC and Double-Vanos has been tuned upwards to a more sufficient 245bhp and 350Nm. In comparison, the 3-litre turbocharged in-line 6 in the 335i churns out 306bhp and 400Nm.

Off the line, the TwinPower Turbo motor can feel a tad lazy, as there aren’t enough exhaust gases to spool up the twin scroll turbocharger. Once past 2000rpm though, there’s a strong wave of mid-range torque to move things along. Surprisingly, the engine doesn’t sound at all strained or feel out of breath when revved near its redline. At low speeds and during idle though, the four-pot suffers from diesel-like clatter, a characteristic it shares with BMW’s other direct injection lumps. Smooth revving it might be but four-cylinders ultimately mean that the 328i’s motor lack the charisma and characteristic snarl of BMW’s more traditional but fast becoming extinct in-line 6 motors.

Hooked up to the engine is the same eight-speed automatic gearbox the rest of the range utilizes. BMW’s eight-speeder is brilliantly good - the gearbox is lightning fast with its shifts while Its shift points are spot on as the box upshifts when you expect it to and goes to a lower gear when you demand it to. A ‘+/-‘ Steptronic mode with steering wheel mounted paddles is standard on the 328i.

With such impressive output numbers, the 328i is pretty quick off the line on paper - 0-100km/h comes up in a scant 6.1 seconds, a time which is six-tenths slower than the 306bhp 335i. 0.6 seconds slower to a hundred from rest sounds like an eternity on paper but in reality on the road, the four pot 328i’s performance doesn’t feel significantly inferior to the 335i’s. Mid-range power can be considered to be on par with the range topper with the 328i only losing out to the 335i at very low speeds where the 2-litre four-pot suffers from a small dose of turbo lag and at high revs where the 328i isn’t as strong thanks to its smaller displacement. Like the 335i, the 328i’s top speed is limited to 250km/h.

The 328i makes do without the 335i’s Adaptive M running gear and variable sport steering but it doesn’t really feel like it needs these features, offering a good compromise between body control and ride quality as well as the same pin sharp and accurate steering feel of the 335i. The electro-mechanical steering system is simply one of the best of its kind and arguably the best aspect of the 3 Series – it is wonderfully responsive at the slightest of inputs, swapping directions and turning in with sublime eagerness and makes for a highly communicative tool as well; returning all the feel and feedback its driver will ever need to his palms. The steering’s direct and talkative nature makes the 328i a hugely rewarding drive for even the most demanding of drivers. The 3’s steering is matched by superb control body movements by the suspension in the corners. – It hardly leans a degree during cornering.

The 328i’s brakes inspire great confidence. The anchors do a great job of hauling the car down from speed and the pedal provides excellent feel, giving you the confidence to break real deep into a corner. Despite running on rubber band profile tyres and those gorgeous looking 18-inch alloys, the 328i rides admirably well. The overall ride is firm but it never feels harsh or unbearable like the previous gen model did.

 


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Engine

Engine Capacity 1997cc Turbocharged
Engine Type Inline 4
Power 245bhp @ 5000rpm
Torque 350Nm @ 1250rpm
Power to Weight 146.7 bhp per ton

Performance

Acceleration 6.1s (0-100 km/h)
Top Speed 250 km/h
Fuel Consumption (combined) 15.9 km/L

Misc Technical Data

Transmission 8 -speed Steptronic
Drive Type FR

Measurements

Body Type Sedan
Dimension
(L x W x H)
(4623 x 1811 x 1429) mm
Kerb Weight 1670 kg

Brakes