It used to be that if you said the words "sport sedan," one car came to mind immediately: the BMW 3 Series. This compact upscale car faces a lot more competition now than it did at its inception more than 40 years ago, and while it may not be as pure a driver's car as it was then, it remains one of the most recognizable vehicles in the auto industry.
The 3 Series' sedan current design dates from 2012. Changes for 2018 are minor, including the addition of a standard backup camera, which comes in response to a Canadian federal safety regulation that will require one in every car sold here from May 2018. The other change is this car's adoption of the latest version of the iDrive infotainment system, which brings touchscreen functionality as an alternative to the console-mounted control knob.
Otherwise, the 3 Series' song remains the same. There are sedan, station wagon (Touring) and hatchback (Gran Turismo) body styles.
The sedan offers the most drivetrain variety, with the option of a turbocharged four-cylinder gas engine that lends 180 hp and 200 lb-ft of torque to the 320i and 248 and 258 lb-ft to the 330i. A turbo six-cylinder powers the 340i with 320 hp and 330 lb-ft.
Drivers who prioritize fuel economy will gravitate toward the 328d, with a turbodiesel four-cylinder good for 180 hp and 280 lb-ft, or the 330e, a plug-in hybrid (PHEV) that combines the 330i's gas engine with an electric motor for 248 hp and 310 lb-ft.
All four-cylinder models, gas and diesel and PHEV, use an eight-speed automatic transmission, while the six-cylinder 340i starts with a six-speed manual that can be optioned to the automatic. The 340i is also the only car in which BMW's xDrive AWD system is not standard kit, but it can be added.
The Touring comes as a 330i or 328d, sharing its engines and driveline specs with the corresponding sedan models.
Gran Turismo variants include the 330i and 340i, whose specs, again, align with those of the sedan models wearing the same badges, but here the 340i is automatic and AWD-only.
We remain skeptical of the Gran Turismo's place in the lineup. It's the largest member of the 3 Series family and offers more rear seat room and marginally more cargo space than the Touring, but it's overshadowed by more popular crossover models like the X3 and X4. We think the Touring is the most attractive model in the range, even noting the lack of a big motor option or a manual transmission to suit this car's traditional driving enthusiast clientele.
Among traditionally powered models, the 328d is most efficient, with fuel consumption estimates of 7.8/5.9 L/100 km (city/highway). The RWD 340i with the automatic transmission is actually significantly more efficient than AWD four-cylinder gas models, at 9.2/6.2 L/100 km. The 330e's estimates are 8.5/6.9 when running in hybrid mode, and 3.3 Le/100 in electric mode.