Thanks to a very extensive list of features and options, the new BMW 3-Series can play many roles, ranging from a relatively sensible sport sedan up to a distinctive luxury sedan or a performance machine ready for track day.
If you load up a 3-Series with options, you add about $15k to the bottom line, but they're now a stronger value than before in base 328i or 335i guise. Both base 3-Series models include an impressive list of features, like a moonroof, automatic climate control, dynamic cruise control, ambient lighting, and fog lamps, as well as HD Radio and satellite radio prep. And at last, Bluetooth hands-free and USB audio capabilities are built into all models. Base 335i models add a few more features, including larger 18-inch alloys, power front seats, and xenon headlamps with adaptive light control.
In addition to that base equipment, 3-Series models can be dressed up in Luxury Line, Modern Line, and Sport Line guise. Each version adds $1,400, up to several thousand, to the sticker price, but in return you get some distinct trim—some of which feels like it could be from a much more expensive vehicle.
Tap into the options list, and you'll find a number of features that add either more luxury, or advanced-tech appeal. BMW claims that the 2012 3-Series is the first compact sedan to offer a head-up display (HUD), which we found useful and free of secondary reflections. Heated front and rear seats, as well as a heated steering wheel and retractable headlight washers, are all part of the Cold Weather Package, and a Driver Assistance Package brings Lane Departure Warning and Active Blind Spot Detection. The Park Distance Control system is part of a Parking Package, which also includes a rear-view camera and the Side and Top View camera system.
There's also a long list of a la carte items that includes performance items like the variable sport steering and Adaptive M suspension, plus items such as rear sunshades and upgraded wheels and trim.
A $250 smartphone holder for Apple's iPhone is available, and will stream internet music radio such as Pandora and MOG, when equipped.
The navigation system now has real-time traffic information, and we appreciated its 3D topographical views when zigzagging through mountainous terrain.