2007 BMW 3-Series


$4,328 - $5,709

2007 BMW 3-Series Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2007 BMW 3-Series was new.


Performance: 8.9

Reviewers cite the 2007 BMW 3-Series' performance as its finest trait, and most say it's the best the luxury midsize car class has to offer. "A BMW isn't meant for everyone. It's a performance machine for those who consider driving an art," says the Chicago Tribune.

The 3-Series lineup is aimed squarely at buyers who are willing to pay a premium for the most exhilarating driving experience available in a mid-size car. As Kelley Blue Book says, "You'll like this car if you answer to the description of 'driving enthusiast.' BMW's well-earned reputation as a serious driver's car takes another step forward with the latest 3 Series."

Many are especially pleased with the higher trim's turbocharged engines. In a recent comparison test between the BMW 335i and the 2008 Mercedes Benz C-Class, Edmunds notes the former "provides an unrivaled driving experience. It's defining feature is its twin-turbo inline-6, an engine that rewards the horsepower fiend of all of us. In addition, the 335i carves up the road with a chassis that always assures you that there's plenty of car under you no matter how fast you drive." 

Acceleration and Power

The 328i and 328xi models are built around a 3.0-liter inline-six cylinder engine putting out 230 horsepower. This engine is rated for 200 pound-feet of torque, and the manufacturer claims a 0-60 miles per hour time of 6.3 seconds with a manual transmission. BMW has used a new lightweight magnesium/aluminum composite alloy for the engine block, and brought its Valvetronic variable valve lift to a six-cylinder engine for the first time. "This engine is almost too fine a place for the dirty business of internal combustion," notes the Los Angeles Times. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that this engine, paired with the automatic transmission, should achieve 18 miles per gallon in city driving, and 28 miles per gallon on the highway.

Even more impressive performance can be found in 335i and 335xi models, which get a twin-turbo version of the same inline six, with direct injection, putting out 300 horsepower. This advanced version is rated for 300 pound-feet of torque, and while BMW boasts of a 0-60 miles per hour time of 5.4 seconds, reviewers for Edmunds achieved a scorching 4.8 seconds, even with an automatic transmission. "The last Ferrari F430 we tested only beat it to 60 mph by two-tenths," they said, adding that "turbo lag is essentially nonexistent, giving the new engine the feel of a much larger normally aspirated engine." During Edmunds' BMW comparison test with the Mercedes Benz C-Class, test drivers found "In a sprint, the 300-hp BMW outpaces the 268-hp Mercedes by 1.2 seconds to 60 mph and 0.9 seconds in the quarter-mile." The EPA estimates that this engine, paired with the automatic transmission, will achieve 18 miles per gallon in city driving and 26 miles per gallon on the highway.

Both models come standard with a six-speed manual transmission, with a six-speed Steptronic automatic available as an option. Steptronic includes normal, sport and manual modes. Steering-wheel mounted paddle shifters are an option on 335 models. Like most reviewers, Auto Mall USA "found the car very responsive even when we let the transmission shift on its own. For those who like paddle shifting, BMW notes that it had cut the transmission's response time to the paddles in half to enhance the driver's sense of control." Sport mode was particularly appreciated in this driving enthusiast's car.

Compared to the Mercedes C-Class' seven-speed transmission, Edmunds says the BMW automatic's paddle shifters deliver "quick, matched-rev downshifts - cool, affordable and worth it."

Handling and Braking

"Driving a BMW 3 Series on a freeway or in gridlocked traffic misses the point of the car. On a freeway or in traffic, a BMW 3 Series is out of its element, amounting to a rather loud, small, sparsely outfitted automobile. But on a twisty road, a BMW 3 Series becomes an extension of the driver's nervous system, a finely crafted tool designed to maximize the joy of driving," says Autobytel. It is on those twisty roads that the BMW earns its price. Edmunds crows that the car "slices cleanly through corners like a Ginsu knife and sticks like Super Glue."

The optional active steering system was a common complaint among reviewers. The system alters steering sensitivity based on speed, and countersteers when the driver brakes in order to prevent slippage. Though Automobile Magazine says that the 3-Series' "refinement and handling balance are ... simply unparalleled," the same reviewer complains that the active steering option "feels artificial, whereas the regular steering is precise and communicative."

The fine-tuned suspension of the 3-Series is a particular engineering triumph. In order to increase trunk space on such a small car, BMW issued standard run-flat tires on every 3-Series, and built the car with no spare tire. Other luxury manufacturers have tried this approach with little success -- reviewers find the ride of the run-flats harsh. The 3-Series, however, was even "comfortable over broken road surfaces" despite the stiff tires, says Car and Driver. Coupe and Convertible editions come with sport-tuned suspension, which is part of the optional sport package for the sedan. Most reviewers are pleased with the standard suspension, finding that in addition to compensating for the harshness of the tires, it provides handling that many reviewers feel is unparalleled in the class. Kelley Blue Book says either the standard or sport suspensions provide "exceptional confidence through even the most challenging corners."

The 328xi and 335xi models include BMW's highly-regarded xDrive All-Wheel Drive system. XDrive has long been familiar to most reviewers and elicited little comment for 2007. Edmunds called the AWD model "a capable snowbelt car."

Four-wheel ventilated anti-lock disc brakes with Dynamic Brake Control (DBC) are standard equipment on all 2007 3-Series cars. In Motor Week testing, the brakes "score well, with stops from 60 averaging 129 feet. The larger discs delivered smooth and stable stops, with great pedal feel and little ABS pulsing." Compared to the brakes of the 2008 C-Class, the BMW 335i once again came out ahead in Edmunds' road test. "The test results reveal one excellent stop from the C350 at 118 feet, and one outstanding stop from the BMW 335i of just 112 feet," its reviewers note. 

An innovative brake-drying feature automatically wipes the brakes dry in rainy conditions. "But why stop there?" asks the Chicago Tribune. "Brake stand-by works in any weather. That system puts another computer sensor to work when you lift your foot off the accelerator quickly. The sensor anticipates that your next move will be to stand on the brake pedal. So the sensor positions the brake pads a little closer to the discs to reduce stopping time."

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