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      11-16-2011, 05:50 PM   #1
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Post First F30 3 Series Reviews Are In! Insideline Calls 328i Very Noticeable Upgrade

First F30 3 Series Reviews Are In! Insideline Calls 328i a Noticeable Upgrade

As we've mentioned, the first F30 press global drives recently began in Barcelona, and the first drives are now beginning to be posted.

First in is Edmunds Insideline's review of the F30 328i powered by BMW's new 2.0L 4 cylinder turbo engine. Here's some of the highlights of what they have to say about the F30 328i:

There is much you need to know about the new 2012 BMW 3 Series, not the least of which is the fact that it's a very noticeable upgrade from the very first drive.
But, as we found out on a cold, wet day in Barcelona, Spain, the car has gained more in character than you could ever pick up from dry specification lists. BMW insists the quality of its four-cylinder turbocharged motors is now high enough that it can deliver the performance and smoothness normally tasked to six-pots with all the fuel economy of a four. On paper, it's tough to argue.

The odd thing is, it doesn't feel like a torque monster in normal driving. A lot of turbo motors nowadays have similarly flat torque curves and yet offer flat performance. The 2012 BMW 328i offers a drive that starts strongly and just gets stronger. It's not perfectly linear, like a naturally aspirated six, but it's a big step in the right direction.

The horsepower peak has its own flat line, arriving at 5,000 revs and sticking around until 6,500. It revs higher than that, though, fizzing all the way out to around 6,800, but the truth is the last 400 revs or so are just for show. Its best work has been done and spun, and you might as well change gear.

The noise isn't as pure as a six, but it's very good and maintains its composure beautifully until very near redline. It's quiet from idle until you ask it for everything, then its note gains some strength until it gets an angry growl at around 3,800 rpm. From there it just gets angrier until well into the sixes.
In the 2012 BMW 328i, you can choose either the default Comfort setting, Sport, Sport Plus or Eco Pro, which might save you heaps of fuel by harnessing virtually every energy spender in the car and putting them on a budget, but it does its very best to make it feel like a 1.0-liter six-cylinder car.

Sport Plus is a bit track pack, tightening up the throttle, turning off the traction and skid controls and, in our version with the optional Dynamic Damper Control, tightening up the suspension, too. That's when it gets interesting.
Still a Proper Sport Sedan
The chassis is easily the highlight of the car, and that's partly because of the damper control system, but mostly because the car is 88 pounds lighter, has a longer wheelbase and runs a 50:50 front-to-rear weight distribution. It steals what is already an impressive show by being so nimble and light on its feet that it feels like a featherweight when you want it to dance. It's a chassis that overachieves, one that might have been saved up for the next Z4, but here it is beneath BMW's stock in trade.

Arrive at a corner carrying far too much corner speed and the 2012 BMW 328i's steering lightens for a moment to tell you it's understeering. From there it waits for the tires to scrub off enough speed and then coyly sneaks in toward the apex. It's the same trick when the back end starts to slide as the 328i breaks free so diplomatically that you think the proactive steering input is your reactive idea. From there it just straightens up and drives hard out of the corner.

It carries far more midcorner grip than we thought possible on saturated Spanish roads. The 328i charmed with brilliant balance, being stupidly adjustable midcorner and refusing to be anything but hugely progressive and unrelentingly forgiving of errors or ham-fistedness. Whether you favor the chip-chip-chipper style or you're a one-turn-in-one-turn-out guy, it works either way.

As with the rest of the chassis, the brakes are tremendously strong and adjustable midcorner. The pedal position never moved in four hours of hard mountain driving, either. The steering is, in this return to absolute driving fun, not brilliant. Well, it's not bad, it's just not quite at the standards of the rest of the car and is damned by the comparison.

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