BMW’s three series has been the gold standard in the sports sedan class for decades. The latest G20 variant of this nimble four-door features a revamped set of powertrain options, fresh new sporty styling and a healthy dose of technology to bring BMW interiors up to snuff with the competition from Audi, Mercedes and Lexus.
Prices can climb quickly as you move through the three series hierarchy, so it’s important to know how one model compares to another.
The base-model 320i has only recently become available as a US-market offering, however with the efficient new line of turbo four-cylinders providing all the power many buyers need, you have to ask whether it’s worth spending the extra money to upgrade.
The 328 is eight more than the 320. In BMW language, that’s good for a boost of 60 horsepower and lb. ft. of torque thanks to a higher state of tune for the 328i’s 2.0-liter engine.
So do you need the extra shove? With 180 horsepower and 200 lb. ft. of torque, the 320i makes the 0-60mph run in under seven seconds. That was proper performance-car quick a few decades ago, and it’s plenty of power to get you up to highway speed and making passes without fearing for your life. It’s nothing BMW should be ashamed of.
The 328, then, is a good option for the buyer who appreciates a more effortless feeling car. While the 320i’s lower boost settings make it more efficient, and not under-powered, you’ll probably find yourself putting your foot into it a little more often. So if that kind of thing stresses you out, choose the still-efficient 328i model and enjoy the extra ponies.
Interior trim and bodywork are largely shared between the sister 3ers, and it’s the technology where the 328i really sets itself apart. If you appreciate modern driver aids, you might be inclined to drop the extra coin and spring for the more tech-laden 328i.
The 328 gets upgrades to a touchpad GPS navigation system and upgrades your audio equipment from the 205-watt base stereo to BMW’s more premium Harmon-Kardon system.
If you’ve never experienced a premium BMW sound system, you’re in for a treat with the Harmon-Kardon, which we can guarantee is putting out well in excess of 205-watts.
The fancy stereo is a nice touch if you’re an audiophile and might come in handy on long road trips. Then again, if you just need a way to hear your favorite radio station and aren’t interested in the HD radio and other perks of the upgraded system, you can probably live without it.
You’ll have to pay a $6000 premium to step into the 328i from the 320i. That’s a significant price bump, but not entirely unreasonable considering that you’re getting enhanced engine output. Still, if you’re just dead-set on the performance, you could probably find a tuner chip that would increase the 320i’s output for considerably less.
Realistically, budget-conscious BMW buyers should stick to the 320i unless there is something very specific they like about the 328i.
If you’re going to spend more money anyway, it makes sense to step up to the much more handsomely-adorned 330i or even higher models which feature 6-cylinder power and a gamut of additional upgrades. But that does cost money!