2015 ActiveHybrid 3 New Car Test Drive
Still one of the best sports sedans on the market, the BMW 3 Series continues into the 2015 model year with only a few changes in features, such as Bluetooth audio streaming, which comes standard. With a variety of powertrains and body styles, the BMW 3 Series offers stylish design, the latest in-car technology and best-in-class driving dynamics.
A dizzying number of models comprise the 2015 BMW 3 Series lineup. Sedans are available in gasoline and diesel variants, most with a choice of rear-wheel or all-wheel-drive. There's the entry-level BMW 320i, powered by a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine; the popular BMW 328i and BMW 328i xDrive, with a more powerful version of the same engine; the exhilarating BMW 335i, with a turbocharged 3.0-liter inline-6 that makes 300 horsepower and 300 pound-feet of torque, and the efficient BMW 328d and BMW 328d xDrive diesel sedans, which use 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder diesel engine that makes 180 horsepower and 280 pound feet of torque, the latter available at just 1750 rpm.
Sports Wagon body styles offer more space than the sedan, with car-like performance and maneuverability. They're available only with turbocharged four-cylinder engines, powered by either gasoline (328i xDrive) or diesel (328d xDrive). As the xDrive model name suggests, Sports Wagons come only with all-wheel drive. Cargo space in the wagon is plentiful at 17.5 cubic feet with the rear seats in place, enough for two large suitcases and multiple small carry-ons.
The 2015 BMW 3 Series GranTurismo is the roomiest of the bunch, with a more upright shape compared to the wagon. It's available in BMW 328i xDrive and BMW 335i xDrive variants (gasoline only) and comes exclusively with all-wheel drive. The GranTurismo offers nearly 3 inches more rear legroom than either the sedan and wagon, and boasts 18.3 cubic feet of cargo space with all seats in place.
As before, 3 Series models are available in different lines, including Luxury, Sport and M Sport, each with its own unique exterior and interior trim. The different trim levels available on the sedans also have unique features on the inside. Each line lends the 3 series its own character, from warm and modern to cool and athletic.
Refined handling and BMW's classic 50/50 weight distribution make all 3 Series cars a joy to drive. With the switch of a drive mode, any variant can go from comfortable daily driver to racy canyon carver. Engine, transmission, steering and brakes work in harmony. The 328 gasoline engine is perfectly suited to everyday driving, while the BMW 328d diesel engine excels when it comes to long-range efficiency. The BMW 335i is the most fun, however, with its powerful engine and plentiful torque.
The 2015 BMW 3 Series sedan remains the benchmark among luxury sport compact cars such as the Audi A3, Cadillac ATS, INFINITI Q50, Lexus IS and Mercedes-Benz C-Class. Though all offer similar dimensions and features, none can quite match the weight balance and performance-oriented dynamics of the BMW. Sports Wagons have fewer competitors, and include the Audi Allroad, as well as the smaller Audi A3 sportback, which are both also available with a diesel TDI engine. Volvo offers the utilitarian XC70 and the most stylish V60, both of which start at about $5,000 less. 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.
The 2015 BMW 320i sedan ($32,750) uses a turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-4 that makes 180 hp and 200 lb-ft. of torque. Standard features include dual-zone automatic climate control, leatherette (vinyl) upholstery, eight-way manually adjustable front seats, a leather-wrapped tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, cruise control, a trip computer, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, BMW's iDrive interface with a 6.5-inch display screen, a nine-speaker audio system with CD player, HD radio, an auxiliary audio jack and USB port, split folding rear seat, foglamps, rain-sensing automatic wipers and 17-inch alloy wheels. An automatic stop/start feature is also included to help save fuel.
The 328i sedan ($37,300) comes with a more powerful version of the turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-4 that makes 240 hp and 255lb.-ft. of torque, plus eight-way power-adjustable front seats with driver memory functions, wood interior trim, auto-dimming rearview and exterior mirrors. It's also available with all-wheel-drive ($39,100). The 328i xDrive Sport Wagon ($41,750) and 328i Gran Turismo ($41,750) are similarly equipped.
The diesel-powered 328d sedan ($38,600), 328d xDrive sedan ($40,600) and 328d xDrive Sport Wagon ($43,250) use a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder that makes 181 hp and 280 lb.-ft. Standard features are similar the 328i.
The 335i sedan ($43,400), 335 xDrive sedan ($45,500) and 335 xDrive Gran Turismo ($47,100) are powered by a 3.0-liter turbocharged inline-6 that makes 300 hp and 300 lb.-ft. Additional features include a power sunroof, adaptive xenon HID headlights and 18-inch wheels.
Every 3 Series sedan is available with either rear-wheel drive or all-wheel drive (xDrive). Sport Wagons and Gran Turismo models are all-wheel drive only.
BMW 328i xDrive Gran Turismo ($41,450) and 335i xDrive Gran Turismo ($46,850) models are equipped similarly to their sedan counterparts and come only with the 8-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive.
Option packages and standalone options include leather upholstery, heated seats, navigation, different wheels and tires, and more. Also, three additional trim packages are available: Luxury, Sport and M Sport. Each has its own unique wheels, exterior trim, interior styling, wheels and suspension tuning. Prices vary depending on the line and the model.
Safety features on all models include front-impact airbags that deploy at different rates depending on the severity of impact, front passenger side-impact airbags, full-cabin, curtain-type head protection airbags, ABS, stability control, traction control and BMW Assist eCall crash notification system. Safety options include side and top view cameras, a adaptive cruise control, parking assist, blind spot detection, lane departure warning, forward collision warning, pedestrian warning, collision mitigation, all-wheel drive.