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-6 engines. A pair of these engines power the 3-Series, with or without turbos. Motor Trend wrote that the inline-6 engines underhood were "sublime," and TheCarConnection.com reviewers agree; there's not a bad pick between the 328 (inline-6) or the 335 (turbo-6). The base engine is found in 328 models, and produces 230 horsepower and 300 pound-feet of torque, reports Cars.com. Edmunds notes the jump up to the 335 bumps the horsepower up to 300 hp and 300 lb-ft, and Car and Driver reported that the engine was "exceedingly capable" all the way up to its 155 mph top speed. ConsumerGuide wrote that the 2009 BMW 328i had smooth power for around-town running and highway passing, but that the 335 had power to spare with no noticeable lag from the turbos. The 335i coupe is the fleetest among the 3-Series range, and ConsumerGuide noted its 4.7-second 0-60 mph dash.
The 2009 BMW 3-Series offers a choice between two transmissions, a 6-speed manual or 6-speed automatic, the latter can be fitted with steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters, according to Edmunds. Car and Driver reviewers reported that all versions are standard with rear-wheel drive, while the some versions offer all-wheel drive, which BMW calls "xDrive." Road & Track notes that the 335i can be equipped with all-wheel drive as a sedan, but not as a wagon. ConsumerGuide wrote that both transmissions were adequate, but that the 6-speed automatic hesitates to downshift sometimes when pressed to pass.
Despite the prodigious power, Edmunds reported that most models of the 3-Series were relatively fuel efficient. The 328i coupe and sedan models are the most fuel efficient, earning EPA figures of 18 mpg city, 28 highway. Opting for the bigger engine in the 335i will net a 17/26 mpg rating in rear-drive coupes and sedans, opting for all-wheel drive and a manual transmission returns 16/25 mpg. All-wheel-drive 335i models manage 17/25 mpg. Wagons with a manual manage 17/27 mpg, and opting for an automatic only improves that slightly to 18/27. Adding all-wheel drive to a wagon, which is 328i only, returns 17/25 mpg.
The 3-Series drives exceptionally well and deserves its title as one of the best-handling sedans on the market, according to TheCarConnection.com's research. Motor Trend marveled at its ability to carve canyons at triple-digit speeds or take children to school in the morning. Automobile Magazine wasn't shy in declaring that the 3-Series was the best driving car in its class, thanks to good steering and a balanced chassis. ConsumerGuide raved that the 2009 BMW 3-Series models are a benchmark for handling, and even in base setup had "sharp moves" and little lean in turns. Edmunds predicted that the steering and brakes would provide hours of entertainment on twisty roads and ConsumerGuide agreed, noting that braking was powerful and stable, with little nosedive.