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2013 BMW 3-Series Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2013 BMW 3-Series was new.


Performance: 8.3

The 2013 BMW 3-series continues to impress reviewers, who note that it offers plenty of power and good fuel economy. They say that although the sedan has grown in size, the 2013 3-Series is still one of the most fun-to-drive cars in its class, thanks to composed handling and a comfortable ride. Still, one test driver writes that some rival cars perform nearly as well, and another says that the fuel-saving stop-start system doesn’t operate as smoothly as he would like.

  • In terms of being exceptionally fun to drive, the BMW 3 Series is no longer a runaway leader for the sport sedan class." -- Edmunds 
  • "A major element of the 3 Series' appeal is its grin-inducing driving dynamics. We've tested the sedans on slow, fast, twisty and hilly roads and on challenging race courses, and they go, steer, corner and brake as well as, or better than, anything in their segment." -- Kelley Blue Book 
  • "The best thing I can say about auto stop-start is that it couldn't be simpler to turn off: The defeat button is adjacent to the engine-start button. You'll probably make good use of it, because the engines restart awkwardly." -- Cars.com (2012 sedan) 

Acceleration and Power

The 2013 BMW 328i sedan comes with a 240-horsepower turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine and your choice of a six-speed manual or an eight-speed automatic transmission. A 300-horsepower, turbocharged 3.0-liter six-cylinder comes with the 335i sedan. BMW 328i coupes and convertibles have a 230-horsepower, 3.0-liter inline six-cylinder engine and either a six-speed automatic or six-speed manual transmission. The 335i coupe and convertible have the same engine found in the 335i sedan. All 3-Series models come with rear-wheel drive, but all-wheel drive is available on sedan and coupe models. According to the EPA, BMW 328i and 335i sedans both get 23/33 mpg city/highway when equipped with an eight-speed automatic transmission. Coupe and convertible models get significantly lower estimates.

The high-performance 2013 BMW M3 is available as a coupe or convertible, and is powered by a 4.0-liter V8 engine that generates 414 horsepower at 8,300 rpm and 295 pound-feet of torque at 3,900 rpm. A six-speed manual transmission is standard and a seven-speed automated manual transmission is optional. The BMW M3 coupe has an electronically-limited top speed of 155 mph. With the automated manual, the M3 can accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in 4.5 seconds.

Reviewers agree that regardless of which engine you choose, the 3-Series offers engaging performance. They say the 328i sedan’s turbocharged four-cylinder engine offers ample power and great fuel economy, which should suit most upscale small car shoppers. However, 335i models benefit from even more horsepower, making them one of the best performing cars in the segment.

  • "Still, we have no complaints about the 328i sedan's new turbocharged four-cylinder engine. It provides quick acceleration and a healthy boost to fuel economy. Most shoppers will be pretty happy with this engine." -- Edmunds 
  • "The delightfully torquey turbo-6 is good for 5.4-second 0-60 bursts, but the surprising turbo-4 is only about a half-second slower, and twin-scroll turbos on both allow almost no turbo lag." -- Kelley Blue Book 
  • "Equipped with either a six-speed manual or a new eight-speed automatic transmission, the 328i takes off with authority. You'd never know you were driving a four-cylinder, and definitely not a turbo four. The torque is almost immediate." -- Cars.com (2012 sedan)
  • It still sets the standard for sheer driving chops in its segment, and the new turbo four is a nice piece of work, more powerful and efficient than, if not nearly as smooth and refined as, a straight-six." -- AutoWeek (2012 sedan)

Handling and Braking

Reviewers note that the 2013 3-Series sedan has a smooth ride and confident handling. However, they also comment that since the sedan is larger than the previous generation, it leans more in turns than the 2011 model. Most test drivers are pleased with the 3-Series sedan’s steering, though a few test drivers write that coupe and convertible models, which are based on the previous generation, feel more connected to the road.

  • The four-doors have a smoother ride, making them superior long-distance cruisers. And while the sedan and wagon still have sharp reflexes, their new steering doesn't offer quite as much feedback as what's provided by the older coupe and convertible." -- Edmunds 
  • "Especially impressive is the BMW balance of cornering prowess with comfortable ride." -- Kelley Blue Book 
  • The regular suspension in the base, Modern and Luxury lines isolates road imperfections better than the previous generation did, but it also allows more body motions, including a surprising degree of body roll - something that's no longer an unavoidable tradeoff. Regardless, the car retains its legendary front/rear balance after mild understeer going into corners." -- Cars.com (2012 sedan)
  • "The 2012 edition … says ‘Have a nice day’ with normal steering effort and a ride that glosses over pavement flaws the way cream cheese fills bagel crevices. Impact harshness is significantly reduced." -- Car and Driver (2012 sedan)

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