2012 BMW 3 Series 328i
Is this the best all around production car in the world? Maybe. Even though it’s larger and has more gizmos available than you will ever need, it’s magical to drive. The more you look at it, the more beautiful it looks. It’s the closest thing to an Apple product on wheels. The cabin of the new 3 Series is more spacious and it’s a really nice place for the driver and passengers to hang out.
Let’s talk about the interior and all the technology. The steering wheel controls are just the start. Heated seats and a heated steering wheel are optional. The sound system is courtesy of Harman Kardon. You can house your iPod or smart phone here. And if you have a surround sound disc handy, you will be blown away.
I’ve never seen wood trim like this in an automobile. BMW calls it Fineline Pure. The door openings are lower on the new model and there is more room in back, along with optional heated seats. You can now brush your foot back and forth under the car, which will open the trunk. Nice touch.
You can keep the fob in your pocket thanks to a start stop button. And there is another button above the stop starter. That’s to engage or override the auto start-stop feature.
And then there’s the latest iDrive, which is designed to give you complete control of all BMW functions. It’s easier to use than ever and it only takes one hand. I could spend all day describing everything connected to iDrive, but I’ll spare you my geekyness.
My car came equipped with five cameras, for side views, rear views and overhead views. If you can’t get out of a tight parking space unscathed with this system, then question your ability to drive a BMW of this high tech caliber.
More tech: There are three driving modes at the push of a button, ECO PRO, Comfort and Sport. No more hood opener to mess with. Pull the lever twice and the bonnet is ajar. And here’s where things get interesting.
Under the hood of my tester is a two-liter dual overhead cam 16 valve inline four with a twin turbo that makes an amazing 240 horsepower and zero to 60 in 5.7 seconds. It does drink the expensive stuff and gets 24 in the city 36 MPG highway.
This 3 Series is so much fun to drive. The brakes are perfect without the artificial feel of so many new cars and it handles like a go-cart. The seats are very comfortable. The steering wheel is the perfect size. Everything about this car is geared (eight speeds in this case) toward the driver. It’s fun, safe and still tops in its class. BMWs are still the ultimate driving machines.
Mike West has been on the air in Seattle for more than 30 years as part of Seattle’s best morning show teams. He also did mornings on KLOS Los Angeles for a little over a year before returning to Seattle. He currently hosts Breakfast With The Beatles every Sunday morning on CBS Seattle station KZOK, 102.5 FM.