Still the car that best embodies BMW's premium sports sedan image, the 2012 BMW 3 Series provides car buyers with one of the purest, most sporting rides on the road that few other automakers have been able to touch. Available in coupe, sedan, convertible, and station wagon configurations, the BMW 3 Series offers a convincing all-around package that melds a sporting character to a practical lineup of luxurious people-movers.
Available with naturally aspirated and turbocharged 3.0-liter inline six-cylinder gas engines in addition to a turbocharged 3.0-liter diesel six-cylinder engine, the 2012 BMW 3 Series lineup is comprised of fast, faster, and frugal. At the top of the range is the world-beating 4.0-liter V-8 M3, which can be found elsewhere in our vehicle overviews.
Most models, including the BMW 328i station wagon, can be had with a six-speed manual transmission in addition to automatic or dual-clutch transmissions depending on the engine configuration selected. All-wheel drive is also available on most models, making the 2012 BMW 3 Series one of the most complete top-to-bottom lineups of any car sold today.
Bodystyles: Coupe, sedan, wagon, convertible
Engines: 3.0-liter inline-6, 3.0-liter turbocharged inline-6, 3.0-liter diesel inline-6
Transmissions: six-speed automatic, six-speed manual, seven-speed dual-clutch automated manual
Models: 328i, 328ix (coupe, sedan, convertible, wagon), 335i (coupe, sedan, convertible), 335d (sedan)
Heading into what is its last model year before a full redesign, the 2012 BMW 3 Series receives little in the way of new features. For 2012, the once-optional automatic transmission is now a no-cost option on all models except for the 335d on which it already came standard. On the 335is coupe and convertible, the DCT transmission option has been lowered in price. Seventeen-inch wheels with all-season tires now come standard on all all-wheel-drive models. And on coupes and convertibles, the sports package has been replaced with the M Sport package as optional equipment.
With unfussy styling and classic good looks plus a light facelift in 2010, the 2012 BMW 3 Series has managed to avoid looking dated many years into its model run. The 3 Series has always been a little boxy and upright, conservative, and tasteful. In this generation, which debuted for the 2006 model year, the coupe and convertible took on a sleeker look that differentiated themselves from the sedan and wagon.
The 2012 BMW 3 Series' interior looks a little Spartan next to many of its rivals with its pumpkin-orange interior glow and modest appearance. Yet, with a variety of wood and aluminum trims on the dash and a choice of either leatherette or Dakota leather, the 3 Series has plenty of luxury on which to build a strong foundation. In addition, BMW offers many optional packages that can quickly bulk of the price of the 3 Series to the tune of tens of thousands of dollars if you're not careful.
Performance & Handling
Whether choosing the 230-horsepower naturally aspirated inline six, the 300-horsepower turbocharged variant, or the 265-horsepower turbocharged diesel, the 2012 BMW 3 Series has plenty of power to offer brisk acceleration. And with BMW's 50-50 front-to-rear weight distribution, the 3 Series is able to tackle roads with ease when they start to bend. The BMW 3 Series has long been considered a benchmark for the entry-luxury class, and the current model is no exception to that.
The 2012 BMW 3 Series' two-stage adaptive brake lights increase in intensity during a full ABS stop. Driver and passenger front airbags are standard, along with frontal side impact and front and rear head curtain bags. Traction and Stability Control are standard.
EPA Fuel Economy
328i: 18 mpg city/28 mpg highway
328i convertible: 17-18 mpg city/33 mpg highway
328i sports wagon: 17-18 mpg city/26-27 mpg highway
328i sports wagon xDrive: 17 mpg city/25mpg highway
335i: 19 mpg city/28 mpg highway
335i: convertible 19 mpg city/28 mpg highway
335d: 23 mpg city/36 mpg highway
- Outstanding performance
- Wide variety of models
- Decent interior space
- Ageless style
You Won't Like
- Can get pricey
- Wagon and diesel not available with a manual transmission
- Interior looks plain and can feel cheap in lower trims
Aging, sure, but still one of the best.
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