Cars.com selected the 2013 BMW 328i M Sport Package as the winner of their $46,000 Sports Sedan Challenge. Along with the F30 3 Series, the folks at Cars.com also tested the 2013 Volvo S60 T5 AWD Premier, 2013 Acura TL 3.7 SH-AWD Tech, 2013 Cadillac ATS 2.0T Performance, 2013 Audi A4 2.0T Quattro Tiptronic and 2013 Mercedes-Benz C250 Sport.
Their experts for this Challenge were:
- Kelsey Mays, Cars.com’s industry editor
- David Thomas, Cars.com’s managing editor
- Joe Wiesenfelder, Cars.com’s executive editor
- James R. Healey, auto writer for USA Today
- Brian Robinson, producer for PBS’ “MotorWeek”
Here is what they had to say about the new 3 Series Sedan:
No. 1: 2013 BMW 328i M Sport sedan, 859 points
What we liked: “What wasn’t there to like?” Thomas enthused, and he was hardly alone. Just by the numbers, the 328i shone. It not only had the fastest time in our zero-to-60 and quarter-mile time trials (and the best braking performance), it also returned the best observed mpg. Nice combination! “Divine balance and controllability, with good steering and feedback as well,” Wiesenfelder said. “Flawless performance,” raved Mays. “It’s the first car that’s made me smile,” Jimmee said. And it wasn’t just the performance aspects. “Brakes like this would encourage faster driving in any car,” Mays noted. “It feels very stable at high speeds, like it can handle anything you throw at it,” Robinson said. “I could forgive a smaller backseat in light of all the other positives,” Wiesenfelder said, “but it’s not small.” Jimmee, who had complained about a variety of interior material surfaces, found that the 328i’s other attributes overshadowed that. “If it drives this well, who cares what the inside looks like?”
What we didn’t: Despite all the applause, the 328i wasn’t a perfect car. “With each generation, it loses a little more feel,” Robinson said. “Sure auto stop/start is worth a little extra mpg from the EPA,” Healey said, “but it’s customer unfriendly, and BMW does it worse than almost any other automaker.” “The turn signal is a springy toggle, which I loathe,” Wiesenfelder added. And a couple of reviewers commented on the “unnatural electronic shifter,” as Mays called it: “It’s the bane of an otherwise decent interior.” Finally, it was very expensive to boot, a few reviewers pointed out. “BMW charges a lot for the cachet that goes with the hood ornament,” Healey said.
The verdict: “The 328i is an outstanding combination of performance, fuel efficiency and roominess that makes its relatively high price easy to accept,” Wiesenfelder said.
No.1: 2013 BMW 328i M Sport sedan 859 points
No.2: 2013 Volvo S60 T5 AWD Premier 793 points
No.3: 2013 Acura TL 3.7 SH-AWD Tech 775 points
No.4: 2013 Cadillac ATS 2.0T Performance 762 points
No.5: 2013 Audi A4 2.0T Quattro Tiptronic 749 points
No.6: 2013 Mercedes-Benz C250 Sport 671 points