$12,137 - $33,211

2015 BMW 3-Series Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2015 BMW 3-Series was new.


Performance: 8.7

The 2015 BMW 3-Series is one of the most satisfying cars to drive in the class, according to critics, with extraordinarily sharp handling and engines that range from peppy to downright ferocious.

  • "The 2015 BMW 3 Series delivers the best all-around driving experience in the entry-level luxury sedan class." -- Edmunds
  • Worthy in years past of BMW's ‘Ultimate Driving Machine’ tagline, the latest 3-Series takes a more comfort- and efficiency-focused approach than previous models." -- Left Lane News
  • "I can think of few things I don't like about the way the car drives." -- AutoWeek (2013)

Acceleration and Power

The base 2015 BMW 320i has a 180-horsepower, turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, while the 328i comes with a 240-horespower, turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine. BMW 335i models have a 300-horsepower, turbocharged 3.0-liter six-cylinder engine. BMW 328d models are powered by a 180-horsepower, turbodiesel four-cylinder engine, while the ActiveHybrid 3 features a turbocharged 3.0-liter six-cylinder engine and an electric motor that produce a combined 335 horsepower. All 3-Series models come standard with an eight-speed automatic transmission, and a six-speed manual is available on the sedan. According to the EPA, the base 320i sedan gets 24/36 mpg city/highway, which is excellent for the class. The 328d sedan gets the best fuel economy estimates in the lineup, delivering an EPA-estimated 32/45 mpg city/highway. An automatic start-stop feature is standard, which turns the engine off in stop-and-go traffic to conserve fuel.

The high-performance 2015 BMW M3 is powered by a twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter six-cylinder engine that produces 425 horsepower and 406 pound-feet of torque. The M3 comes with a standard six-speed manual transmission or an optional seven-speed automated manual. According to BMW, the M3 has a top speed of 156 mph and accelerates from 0 to 60 mph in 3.9 seconds.

Automotive journalists write that the base BMW 320i offers lively acceleration, adding that the 328i is a powerful upgrade, and the diesel-powered 328d is potent as well. They think the 335i’s turbocharged six-cylinder sounds excellent and delivers strong, smooth acceleration. Critics are also pleased with the standard eight-speed automatic transmission’s rapid gear changes. However, some say that the 3-Series’ engine start-stop feature makes the car shake when it restarts, and they like that the system can be disabled.

  • "As for the more common engines, the 320i is pretty punchy, but the 328i is a very desirable upgrade model. We think so highly of this model in particular that it earned our ‘A’ rating. The six-cylinder 335i might seem like overkill at this point, but its huge wallop of power and distinctive inline-6 sound still make it the best choice for those wanting the top sport sedan experience." -- Edmunds
  • "Even the diesel is no slouch, but it's the 2015 M3, with its 0-60 mph time of less than four seconds, that holds top bragging rights. Most 3 Series models come with a fuel-saving stop/start feature. Unfortunately it shudders when the engine restarts - luckily, you can deactivate it." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "The 4-cylinder 328i is quite powerful, though acceleration is not as linear as that of BMW's excellent turbocharged 6-cylinder. The 335i is very strong. It's been reported that BMW underrates the 6-cylinder's horsepower. We can believe it because it's so fast." -- Consumer Guide (2013)
  • "The eight-speed transmission is the definite superstar of the powertrain. It may not be a dual-clutch unit, but it sure does behave like one, with quick and precise shifts." -- Motor Trend (2013)

Handling and Braking

The 2015 BMW 3-Series sedan comes standard with rear-wheel drive. All-wheel drive (xDrive) is available on the 3-Series sedan and standard on Sports Wagon and Gran Turismo models. The 3-Series is also available with an electronically adaptive sport suspension. The majority of reviewers report that the 2015 3-Series sedan and wagon have phenomenal handling for the class, as well as accurate steering, responsive brakes and a comfortable ride. Auto writers note that the larger and heavier Gran Turismo lacks the agility of the sedan and wagon.

  • "The ride is smooth and quiet, no matter which driveline, wheels and tires you choose, so the car is fantastic for road trips. Even the 328d wagon (which earned an Edmunds ‘A’ rating) and ActiveHybrid 3 impressed us in these regards, both with seamless power, benchmark handling and exemplary composure when going around turns." -- Edmunds
  • "These cars - from the base 320i to the all-conquering M3 - put a focus on driving pleasure, a trait that consistently puts them at or near the top of the segment in terms of ride and handling. The lone exception is the Gran Turismo hatchback, which isn't as nimble as its smaller, lighter siblings." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • The fuel-saving electromechanical steering system is precise but numb in comparison to BMW's older hydraulic setup, and the standard suspension soaks up road imperfections with ease but allows more body roll than one might expect." -- Left Lane News
  • "What also matters is how the brakes feel, and here again the 328i beat the others, with effortless stopping power, good pedal feel and linearity on both application and release." -- Cars.com (2013)

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