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2008 BMW 3-Series Photo
9.0
/ 10
On Performance
BASE INVOICE
$30,085
BASE MSRP
$32,700
On Performance
When it comes to handling and performance, the 2008 BMW 3-Series continues to uphold its stellar reputation.
9.0 out of 10
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PERFORMANCE | 9 out of 10

Expert Quotes:

Like sweet cream, energy pours out of the 335i's engine
Automobile

twin-turbo six is stupid fast
Car and Driver

smooth and flexible
Cars.com

potent and refined engines
Edmunds

The 2008 BMW 3-Series offers a choice of inline-six engines, manual or automatic transmissions, and rear- or all-wheel drive. The common element: beautifully mannered handling, amplified by blistering pace in the twin-turbo 335i.

Car and Driver reports that the 2008 BMW 3-Series "is available with either a 230-hp normally aspirated inline-six [328i] or a 300-hp twin-turbo six [335i or ix]." Cars.com declares that the "rear-wheel-drive 328i [BMW 2008] is powered by a 3.0-liter inline-six that makes 230 horsepower at 6,500 rpm and 200 pounds-feet of torque at 2,750 rpm." Though this engine lacks "the low-end thrust of the twin-turbo 335i and its unique 3.0-liter inline-six," it is nonetheless "smooth and flexible."

Edmunds acknowledges both engines are "potent and refined," but the twin-turbo six transforms the 3-Series into a truly fast sports sedan--Car and Driver calls it "stupid fast." The 335i provides tremendous thrust from almost any speed and doesn't have the lag of most turbocharged engines. Automobile uses more culinary metaphors in describing what they call "an engine to die for...turbocharged and intercooled cylinders fed by direct fuel injection and optimized with variable valve timing," adding that "like sweet cream, energy pours out of the 335i's engine throughout the rev range." This is no engine to be taken lightly; "step deep into the throttle with only 2000 rpm on the tach, and there's but a hint of hesitation before the rush to the redline"--which, according to this source, is an impressive 7,000 rpm. The 328i sedan with the six-speed manual can hit 60 mph in about 6 seconds, yet gets 28 mpg on the highway, while the 335i takes less than 5 seconds.

Each model can be had with either a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission; steering-wheel paddle-shifters are included with the latter. Cars.com reports that "the manual transmission is a pleasure to shift, and the relatively light clutch pedal isn't too taxing to operate when crawling through heavy urban traffic." Kelley Blue Book prefers the fully manual transmission as well: "you'll enjoy the benefits of this subtle but effective helper that automatically applies the brakes for a few seconds whenever you're stopped on a hill to help prevent the car from rolling backwards while you engage first gear." Car and Driver says “the automatic is about as good as they get, although purists will likely want to change gears for themselves.”

Cars.com reports better-than-average fuel economy, based on figures from the factory: "the 328i sedan gets an estimated 21/30 mpg (city/highway) with the automatic transmission and 20/29 mpg with the manual." According to fueleconomy.gov, the figures are 19/28 mpg with the automatic and 18/28 mpg with the manual on the 328i; the 335i turns in 17/26 mpg with rear-wheel drive and a manual gearbox, or 16/25 mpg with all-wheel drive and an automatic.

With near-perfect driving dynamics, the 3-Series threads through corners with great balance and poise--even on rough pavement surfaces. A sign of great suspension tuning, it does so without a sacrifice in ride quality; the 2008 BMW 3-Series has a ride that's firm yet absorbent over all but the most threatening potholes and heaves. For a car that provides such engaging handling, the 3-Series tracks well on high-speed highway cruises, too. Cars.com says "it rewards the driver like few other non-exotic cars can, with its communicative steering, intuitive handling." Automobile attributes this 2008 BMW's "excellent levels of roadholding and stability" to "a more sophisticated front suspension, quicker steering, and stouter brakes," while Car and Driver praises its "great steering feel” and “perfectly tuned chassis.” Kelley Blue Book says it "provides exceptional confidence through even the most challenging corners," and they add that this BMW 2008's "excellent xDrive all-wheel-drive system also makes dealing with inclement weather considerably less stressful."

Conclusion

When it comes to handling and performance, the 2008 BMW 3-Series continues to uphold its stellar reputation.

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