Saying automotive journalists like diesel sedans is like arguing the color pink is going to do well with the 5-year-old-girl demographic this quarter. You're not going to find too many dissenting voices. So, it should be no surprise that we love ourselves some BMW 335d. With plenty of power and impressive fuel economy, the outgoing diesel is a mechanical wonder child. And yet, thanks to the new F30-generation BMW 328i, with its 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine produces 240 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque, there's some competition for the title of most fuel efficient 3 Series.

Admittedly, the 328i's numbers are a far cry from the 265 ponies and 425 lb-ft of torque cranked out by the diesel-fueled 3.0-liter inline six in the 335d. Even so, the 2012 328i is considerably lighter and more aerodynamic. It also boasts a next-generation transmission, which helps the car get to 60 mph one tenth of a second quicker than the old 335d. That's surprising, but not nearly as surprising as the fact that the 328i manages 1 mpg better than the diesel in the combined cycle. According to the EPA's just-released figures, the 328i nets 24 miles per gallon in the city and an impressive 36 mpg on the highway. The 335i? 23 mpg city and 36 highway.

We'll give you a moment to pick up your jaw from the floor. Now all BMW needs to do, as Automobile points out, is drop a diesel four-cylinder behind the headlights of the 3 Series to go after even bigger green credentials. Fingers crossed.


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  • 22 Comments
      Jorge Pinto
      • 2 Years Ago
      When the F30 330d or 335d with auto-start/stop comes in, then it will become again apparent that diesel cycle is way more efficient than otto. Any mpg comparison of F30 with E90 non-Efficient dynamics is meaningless.
        Arun Murali
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Jorge Pinto
        First of all, Theoretical efficiency is crap. That is just where diesels excel. They are not good at accelerations but super good at cruising. Thats why modern diesel cars have lower compression and lower peak efficiency over traditional diesel trucks. This also means that the dynamic efficiency of a diesel is far worse than petrol engines. If you consistently drive in a stop and go environment, you will see almost no MPG difference between both the engines. Another factor that has been consistently driving down the Diesel compression ratio is emissions. As you might already know, diesels have much higher ignition temperature than a petrol engine. So modern CRDI (and the likes) engines basically meter diesel injection accurately so that the combustion temperature never really reaches above 900C. Traditionally they could raise the combustion temperature a bit during curising(lower emissions standards) but as the standards get stricter companies are forced to use lower compression. Going forward Diesel compression ratio is likely to fall even further. Even for theoretical efficiency, its just a matter of time. The Eco Boost like engine used in the Ford pickups are theoretically as efficient as the diesel engine from a small car. The engines used in Prius and a few Porsche's are actually more efficient than the diesel engines you use in a small car. The next gen Prius is likely to have a 40% efficient engine, which is somewhat better than many mid size trucks out there. All this while being 30-40% more efficient dynamically than a small diesel. All this with a much simpler design and lighter weight.
      Alex
      • 2 Years Ago
      What's the point of reposting same exact article from "regular" Autoblog's section here (other than AOL trying to desperately "fish" for more Ad "impressions")?
        DaveMart
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Alex
        Well, I can see this one, as this is a remarkable increase in efficiency. When a technology is replaced, the one going out always improves to whatever its peak is. Amongst a host of possible examples, the death for commercial purposes of the sailing ship springs to mind, with the tea clippers putting up a stout rearguard action. Finally I think the simplicity of batteries and fuel cells, whether of the liquid or gaseous fuel variety or the metal air variety, will win out, but I expect the efficiency of the combustion engine to have a large improvement yet, which is good as on the most optimistic estimates it will be a long time before most cars are electric in one form or another.
      harlanx6
      • 2 Years Ago
      Wow. And BMW can still offer another new 3 series model with an even more advance turbo-diesel that knocks it out of the park again. You have to hand it to the Germans. They are good at this game.
      atc98092
      • 2 Years Ago
      As the article mentions, the 2012 version is lighter and more areodynamic. It also gets the 8 speed transmission. Stop comparing two entirely different models. Wait for the 2012 diesel version. Even if they stick with the 3 liter 6 cylinder, I predict it will also see a significant boost in performance and economy. If they bring the 320d to the US, I will blow this one (328i) out of the water for economy and probably equal the performance.
        DRstrangelove
        • 2 Years Ago
        @atc98092
        There is no 2012 diesel 3 series in the US. The diesel version is dead. It was a sales failure.
          atc98092
          • 2 Years Ago
          @DRstrangelove
          There will be another 3 series diesel. Just like the last version, its release was after the gas models. I don't believe BMW felt they were a sales failure.
      DrSandman
      • 2 Years Ago
      A lot of snark comes out here -- and I wouldn't personally drive a BMW -- but kudos to you BMW! "Same" mileage with a fuel that costs 30% less and doesn't require urea injections. Plus less particulate pollution... Wowzers. I hope real-world mileage matches up.
        atc98092
        • 2 Years Ago
        @DrSandman
        I agree with you until the particulate issue. Gasoline powered engines produce a huge amount of particulate matter. The problem is they are so small that they are not visible. In regards to health issues, these tiny, invisible to the eye particulates are more dangerous the even the old clouds of black soot that diesels used to produce. With the particulate filters on modern diesels that is practially no particulate matter at all.
        atc98092
        • 2 Years Ago
        @DrSandman
        I agree with you until the particulate issue. Gasoline powered engines produce a huge amount of particulate matter. The problem is they are so small that they are not visible. In regards to health issues, these tiny, invisible to the eye particulates are more dangerous the even the old clouds of black soot that diesels used to produce. With the particulate filters on modern diesels that is practially no particulate matter at all.
      Dan Frederiksen
      • 2 Years Ago
      they feel the electric car stalking them in the night
      oollyoumn
      • 2 Years Ago
      This is a good example of how torque is often overvalued. One would think that a 165 lb ft torque advantage would more than make up for the small amount of weight penalty the the diesel has, yet it is slower to accelerate to 60. The diesel has a much smaller HP advantage of only 25, maybe not enough to offset the weight penalty. My guess is that the gas engine also has a much wider, and useful, power band compared to the diesel. Moving a car from 0-60 is a measure of work. Torque is a measure of force while HP is a measure of work. So with all that torque the diesel is slower, but doesn't even offer a consumption advantage. HP is king but it is important to look at HP over the RPM range, not just peak. When you consider that diesel fuel has more carbon, meaning more CO2, per gallon, and the engine will emit more NOX and particulate, the gas engine is far greener in this example.
      niky
      • 2 Years Ago
      Proclaiming this the new mileage champ 3-series? Complaining that there's no diesel four-pot in the 3? So what's the nearly 60+ mpg EfficientDynamics 320d? Chopped liver? Oh... right... not available in the US. Because anything that takes slightly longer than seven seconds to hit 60 mph is dangerously slow, so BMW doesn't bother to sell it there...
        niky
        • 2 Years Ago
        @niky
        Yet the 335d did. If BMW thinks it's worth their while, they'll modify the engine to meet US regulations. It's not like it will be categorically harder than with the 35d engine, which they STILL sell in the US and which is much higher strung than the 20d or 23d (high horsepower 2.0 diesel) variants which are lightweight and exceptionally efficient. Again, it's not a technical hurdle they can't... errh... hurdle. It's just that they don't think the market will pay for these engines. BMW themselves say it's a problem of getting arses in seats. People are more ready to accept a diesel in a big truck like the X5, but a diesel 3-series that isn't rip-roaring quick may not attract enough customers to make it worth their while. Shame. Having driven it, I think the 2.0d is a wonderful engine.
          Letstakeawalk
          • 2 Years Ago
          @niky
          I just meant to point out you mischaracterization of BMW's possible motives. They didn't decide to not bring over the 320d "...Because anything that takes slightly longer than seven seconds to hit 60 mph is dangerously slow..."
          Letstakeawalk
          • 2 Years Ago
          @niky
          Better profit margin on the 335d as it's a more upscale version. That additional profit helps pay for the engineering to federalize the engine. I agree, it's not impossible; it's just not practical.
        Letstakeawalk
        • 2 Years Ago
        @niky
        The 320d isn't sold in the US because it doesn't meet EPA and CARB emissions standards.
          PR
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Letstakeawalk
          changes in the European emissions standards will change the EPA/CARB thing. The Euro 6 standards due in the next couple of years will make it so the standards may be close enough that the 320d might pass both standards withe the same emissions system. Frankly, I don't blame any of the car companies for waiting until the European emissions standards and the EPA/CARB standards converge. They've known for years that it was coming, I'd wait too if I were them.
      Nick
      • 2 Years Ago
      New BMW 328i actually moreugly than old 335d diesel
      winc06
      • 2 Years Ago
      The 335i hwy mileage is incorrect. It is 33 mpg.
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