In Europe, people will buy a BMW 3-Series F30 with all kinds of low-powered, efficiency-oriented engines that Americans wouldn’t touch with a six-foot pole – the 316d, 318d and 318i.
It seems that BMW is even struggling to justify the perfectly reasonable 320i, which is often called out for not having “the kind of power people expect from a BMW.” However, it’s still available, and CNET took on the task of seeing if it’s relevant for the US buyer, from their usual tech-oriented approach.
Unfortunately, the tech-oriented approach does not benefit the basic 320i, because it comes lacking in a lot of key kit areas, as it misses out on all the good stuff that woos people to buy the car in the first place – to have access to the full iDrive infotainment unit, play around with the electric seats or stream music from one’s phone via Bluetooth. Moreover, the 180 hp engine is deemed not powerful enough too, though, I personally think 7.1 seconds to sixty is plenty fast for all but the keenest of drivers (it’s almost a second faster than the old-gen non-turbo 320i…).
Still, the beginning of the video does put the 3-Series in an atypical light, making us look at it from a historic point of view – it wasn’t always the most luxurious car in its class, but it was always among the best to drive. This new one does build on that image (its interior is far from class leading), and with the right mindset, you can buy and enjoy a very basic 320i, without regretting not spending the extra $4,550 that the more powerful and better equipped 328i demands.
Besides, you can make at least part of the 60 hp deficit (if you really want to) by remapping the engine for a fraction of the cost, knowing that it will definitely take the extra oomph like the detuned two-liter turbo lump it is.
By Andrei Nedelea