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New Car Review – 2014 BMW 3 Series

2013 was a big year for the BMW 3 series because it launched an all-new sedan and wagon.  This year, the coupes are no longer part of the 3 series, but rather have been taken over by the 4 series platform.  All of the upgrades which came in 2013 continue in the 2014 models unchanged.  At the same time, there have been a handful of noticeable improvements to ensure the 2014 BMW 3 series is well represented.  In general, entry-level luxury cars continue to dominate premium brand of vehicle sales in the United States.  The BMW 3 series has long been a favorite in this class and for good reason.  It features some of the most powerful and fuel-efficient engines and arguably some of the best interior furnishings.  A noticeable difference is the 2014 BMW 3 series puts a greater priority on right comfort which may slightly affect its sporty handling and fun overall driving experience.

The Look

The BMW 320i come standard with 17 inch alloy wheels, fog lights, cruise control, leatherette premium vinyl upholstery, leather wrapped tilt and telescoping steering wheel, eight way manually adjustable front seats, and dual zone automatic climate control.  The 328i adds additional features including auto dimming rear-view mirror, driver memory functions, rear-view camera, and eight way power adjustable front seats.  The 335i sedan has unique powertrains compared to the rest of the BMW 3 series.  They come equipped with 18 inch alloy wheels, adaptive and auto levelling xenon headlights, sunroof, and automatic high beams.  The sedan can also be equipped with four optional equipment lines which include different wheel designs, trim types, steering wheels, and suspension tuning.

Most of the extra items on specific body styles are available as add-on options for other packages.  Some of the options which can be included with any package are larger wheels, automatic parking system, active steering system, headlight washers, heated seats (both front and back), navigation system, satellite radio, Harman Kardon surround sound audio system, and BMW Assist emergency communications system.

Performance

The 320i sedan features a turbocharged two liter in-line four which can generate up to 180 horsepower and 200 pound-feet of torque.  Consumers can choose between either a six speed manual or eight speed automatic transmission.  The eight speed automatic transmission can also be upgraded to a sport version which includes steering wheel paddle shifters.  Both the manual and automatic boast some of the best mileage averages in its class without sacrificing speed and sportiness.

The BMW 328i features a 3.0 liter in-line six engine which can generate 230 horsepower and 200 pound-feet of torque.  The standard configuration is a six speed manual rear wheel drive.  The optional configuration is the six speed automatic all-wheel-drive option.

The 335i features a turbocharged 3.0 liter six cylinder engine which can generate up to 300 horsepower and 300 pound-feet of torque.  The transmission and drivetrain options are the same as the 328i versions.  Upgrading to the 335is package offers a different engine.  It has a twin turbocharged 3.0 liter six cylinder engine which can generate 320 horsepower and 332 pound-feet of torque.  The six speed manual transmission is standard and the seven speed automated dual clutch manual is optional.

Safety

Every 2014 BMW 3 series come standard with a variety of safety features.  This includes a lot breaks, front side airbags, side curtain airbags, front knee airbags, and traction/stability control.  The stability control system is unique because it integrates several features engineered to enhance braking performance.  For example, one feature periodically wipes the brake rotors dry when windshield wipers are on.  Another will automatically snug the pads to the rotor when the driver suddenly lifts off the throttle.

Interior Design

The BMW 3 series features a variety of equipment lines which all allow for a significant amount of customization in regards to color scheme and trim tight.  The well-known BMW iDrive is still considered to be a complicated interface because it can require too many actions by the driver to perform certain tasks.  At the same time, it does offer a wide range of customization which is ideal for owners willing to take the time necessary to set it up.  The 2014 base model seats are extremely comfortable and supportive, although the sport packages are considered to be significantly better.  The back seat is one of the most spacious in the entry-level luxury segment regardless of body style.  The sedan also adds more overall length which is noticeable in the additional front and rear legroom.

Overall

Overall, the 2014 BMW 3 series offers an excellent value in the entry-level luxury segment.  It offers a unique driving experience with the turbocharged engine and electrically driven steering system.  It also features an extremely smooth ride which makes it ideal for long-distance drives.  The only potential problem is the cars don’t feel a sporty or engaging as some of the older models.  While it’s still a fun car to drive, it is no longer the undisputed leader in its class.

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