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PERFORMANCE | 10 out of 10
Sublime 3.0L inline-six
Smooth, sufficient power for around-town driving and highway passing
3-series still is the best driving car in the class
One stint behind the wheel of the 2009 BMW 3-Series is enough to realize that BMW hasn’t lost touch with its long-standing reputation for making cars for those who enjoy driving.
BMW has made a name for itself in many ways, but perhaps none more significant than its trademark inline-six engines. A pair of these underpins the new BMW 3-Series, as Motor Trend reviewers note that "the automaker's sublime 3.0L inline-six, available in naturally aspirated and twin-turbo forms, remains the same." Reviews read by TheCarConnection.com are unanimously impressed with both variants of the engine, which can be distinguished by their 328 (naturally aspirated) and 335 (twin-turbo) numerical designations. The base engine, according to Cars.com, is the naturally aspirated 328, which produces "230 horsepower [and] 300 pounds-feet of torque." Conversely, Edmunds states that the "335i and 335i xDrive get a different 3.0-liter inline-6, this one twin-turbocharged to produce 300 hp and 300 lb-ft of torque." Car and Driver crows that either combination is "exceedingly capable, with instant power on tap up to its 155-mph cutoff." ConsumerGuide, meanwhile, reports that the 2009 BMW 3-Series in 328i form "has smooth, sufficient power for around-town driving and highway passing," while the "335i has abundant power at any speed with no noticeable turbo lag." The speedster of the group, a 335i coupe, "did 4.7 seconds 0-60 mph," according to ConsumerGuide tests.
The 2009 lineup of BMW 3-Series models offers consumers a couple of transmission choices and includes both rear- and all-wheel-drive models, as well as the traditional manual and automatic transmission offerings. Edmunds reports that all BMW 3-Series "models come standard with a six-speed manual shifter, while a six-speed automatic is optional." Edmunds also points out that "paddle shifters can be added to the auto" on the 2009 BMW 3-Series. According to Car and Driver reviewers, all versions come with a base rear-wheel-drive transmission, while the 328i offers "an available xDrive all-wheel-drive system." Meanwhile, Road & Track informs that "there is a 335i xDrive sedan, but no wagon." On automatic-transmission versions of the BMW 2009 3-Series, ConsumerGuide finds that "the 6-speed automatic changes gears smoothly, but downshifts can lag behind throttle inputs."
Despite the fun that can be had behind the wheel of a BMW 3-Series, Edmunds is pleased to report that the vehicles remain "relatively fuel-efficient." For the wagon models, the EPA estimates that rear-wheel-drive versions with the manual will get 17 mpg city and 27 mpg highway, while the automatic returns numbers of 18/27 mpg and the xDrive variant gets 17/25 mpg. For the sedan and coupe models, the 328i gets an impressive 18 mpg city and 28 mpg on the highway. Moving up to the higher-output 335i models, the EPA estimates that rear-drive sedans and coupes will get 17 mpg city and 26 mpg highway, while manual-transmission xDrive versions should hit 16 mpg city and 25 mpg highway. For 335i xDrive models with the automatic transmission, city economy jumps up 1 mpg to 17 mpg, while the highway rating is unchanged at 25 mpg.
Everything you've heard about the phenomenal driving dynamics of the 2009 BMW 3-Series is true, according to TheCarConnection.com's research. Motor Trend marvels at how the BMW 3-Series is "equally at home canyon-carving at triple-digit speeds as it is taking the kids to school," while Automobile Magazine simply declares the BMW 3-Series "the best driving car in the class," thanks to its "communicative steering and wonderful chassis balance." ConsumerGuide raves that BMW's 2009 lineup of 3-Series models "is the class benchmark for overall control and steering feel," and "even with the base suspension, all models display excellent balance, sharp moves, and little body lean in turns." Edmunds predicts that the "steering and brakes will provide hours of entertainment on twisty two-lane byways," and ConsumerGuide agrees that "braking is powerful and stable."
Is the 2009 BMW 3-Series still the "Ultimate Driving Machine?" All signs point to yes.