Though the coupe, convertible, and M3 lag behind the all-new sedan for 2013, the BMW 3-Series continues to be one of the best buys in the mid-size luxury sport sedan segment, with capable performance and a full feature set that matches and frequently beats competitors like the Audi A4, Mercedes-Benz C Class, Cadillac ATS, and Lexus IS.
When introduced, the new F30 3-Series sedan received something of a lukewarm greeting, looking quite a bit like the E90 it replaced, though with updates across all of the body work and, most noticeably, throughout the interior. A larger greenhouse, more sculpted exterior styling, and a wider-looking front end characterize the newest 3-Series sedan.
Engines for the updated 3-Series sedan include a 2.0-liter four-cylinder turbocharged engine rated at 240 horsepower in the 328i and a 300-horsepower, 3.0-liter turbocharged in-line six in the 335i. Both are available with a choice of six-speed manual or a Steptronic automatic transmissions. Rear-wheel drive is standard, but all-wheel drive is available.
The M3, still based on the older 3-Series platform, also carries forward with its 414-horsepower, 4.0-liter V-8 engine. A seven-speed dual-clutch transmission or six-speed manual is available, though the M3 doesn't offer all-wheel drive. Despite being based on older hardware, the M3 is still one of the most rewarding, enjoyable performance luxury coupes (or convertibles) available at this price point. Nimble handling, good (but not quite great) steering feel, and a capable chassis and suspension tune make it a devastating track machine, though the stiff ride and high fuel consumption can make it a bit less attractive on the street.
An available M Sport package for the non-M3 models helps blend some of that increased performance with the workaday 3-Series' greater comfort. Reducing ride height by 0.4 inches, adding firmer springs and damping, and larger 18- or 19-inch M-branded alloy wheels, the M Sport package is worth looking it. For those with a bit more need for speed--but without the desire for an M3--might consider the newly-launched range of M Performance Parts, as well as the Adaptive M Sport suspension package, which adds electronically controlled damping to the mix.
All 3-Series models offer some variant of iDrive, BMW's name for its controller-based infotainment system. Combining apps, navigation, and a range of other features into a single command center, the iDrive system has grown considerably in both function and ease of use over the years, no longer deserving its reputation for being a fiddly, trick-to-operate morass of nested menus and confusing hieroglyphs.
For more details on the 2013 BMW 3-Series, read the full review at The Car Connection