We can't even remember when was the last time that BMW offered a 320i-badged model in the States, even though it remains a popular model in other markets around the world.
The 320i is the more affordable and less powerful sibling of the 240hp 328i, with which it shares its 2.0-liter TwinPower Turbo 4-cylinder gasoline engine.
In the 320i, the force-fed unit has been de-tuned to deliver 180 horsepower at 5,000 rpm and 200 lb-ft of torque from 1,250 rpm to 4,500 rpm for a 0-60 mph (96km/h) acceleration time of just 7.1 seconds, with either an 8-speed automatic transmission or an available 6-speed manual. Top speed is an electronically-limited to 130 mph (209 km/h).
Preliminary fuel economy estimates for the 320i with 6-speed manual transmission are 22mpg City and 34mpg Highway, and 23 City / 33 Highway for the automatic model. BMW will also offer an all-wheel drive option with the automatic-transmission-only 320i xDrive expected to achieve 22mpg City and 33mpg Highway.
The rear-wheel drive 320i goes on sale in spring with a starting price of $33,445 (including $895 Destination & Handling), or $4,300 less than the 328i, with the 320i xDrive available from $35,445 (including $895 Destination & Handling).
We could be wrong, but at this price point, BMW may be looking to compete against the upcoming Mercedes-Benz CLA, which is rumored to start at a little over $30,000.