$15,290 - $35,647

2016 BMW 3-Series Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2016 BMW 3-Series was new.


Performance: 8.6

Test drivers say no matter which engine you choose, the 2016 BMW 3 Series has ample power. Many praise the 328i's lively acceleration and the 328d's fuel efficiency. They note that the new 340i's engine is incredibly smooth. Reviewers appreciate the eight-speed automatic transmission's slick, timely shifts. According to test drivers, the 3 Series offers a comfortable ride and sharp handling.

  • "The 2016 BMW 3 Series delivers the best all-around driving experience of any compact luxury sport sedan. The ride is smooth and quiet no matter which driveline, wheels and tires you choose, making the 3 Series a fantastic choice for road trips and local jaunts alike." -- Edmunds
  • "The 340i is no M3, but it does offer one of the best high-performance experiences in the segment. If the heart of a driving enthusiast beats within your chest, there are few better ways to indulge yourself than this remarkably subtle but capable driving machine." -- Car and Driver
  • "The smooth, quiet ride is impressive, and there's plenty of power, particularly in the downright-fast 340i. This BMW delivers a true premium driving experience." -- AutoTrader
  • 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 (2015)

Acceleration and Power

The base 2016 BMW 320i has a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 180 horsepower, while the 328i comes with a 240-horsepower, turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine. The BMW 340i model is new for 2016, replacing the 335i, and has a turbocharged 3.0-liter six-cylinder engine that makes 320 horsepower. The 328d is powered by a 180-horsepower, turbodiesel four-cylinder engine, and the new 330e plug-in hybrid has a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine and an electric motor that together make 250 horsepower. All 3 Series models come with an eight-speed automatic transmission, and a six-speed manual is optional on the sedan. The EPA estimates that the base 320i sedan gets 24/36 mpg city/highway, which is outstanding for the class. With an EPA-estimated 32/42 mpg, the 328d has the best fuel economy estimate in the lineup.

The high-performance BMW M3 has a twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter six-cylinder engine that makes 425 horsepower and 406 pound-feet of torque. The M3 comes with a six-speed manual transmission or an available seven-speed automated manual. The M3 has a maximum speed of 156 mph and can accelerate from zero to 60 mph in 3.9 seconds, according to BMW.

Reviewers say the BMW 320i's engine delivers ample power. Still, they prefer the added power and lively acceleration of the 328i and the potent and fuel-efficient 328d. Test drivers are also impressed with the new 340i's six-cylinder engine, which they say delivers smooth power and a pleasing growl. According to auto writers, the standard eight-speed automatic transmission is quick and accurate. However, critics say the 3-Series’ standard engine start-stop feature does not operate smoothly, and they are happy that it can be disabled.

  • "The gasoline-powered 328i has a seductive mix of acceleration (significantly quicker than both the 320i and 328d), decent fuel economy and relative affordability." -- AutoTrader
  • "[The 340i is] as silky smooth as ever, with an ultra-refined (if artificially enhanced) soundtrack, and it is stronger than the N55, which was rated at 300 horsepower. The B58 actually makes 320 horsepower, and we drove it with the ZF-sourced eight-speed automatic, a gearbox that eerily seems to read your mind." -- Car and Driver
  • "Power delivery is strong, complemented by benchmark handling and exemplary composure when going around turns. Having said that, the 328i is a desirable upgrade over the 320i, earning our top 'A' rating for its exemplary combination of performance and fuel efficiency." -- 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 (2015)
  • "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

Reviewers agree that the BMW 3 Series has agile handling and a comfortable ride. While some test drivers think the 2016 model-year updates to the 3 Series' steering make it feel more precise, others don’t notice much of a difference. A few also point out that the Gran Turismo model isn't as nimble as sedan or Sports Wagon models. The 2016 3 Series sedan comes standard with rear-wheel drive. All-wheel drive (xDrive) is available on the sedan and comes standard on Sports Wagon and Gran Turismo models.

  • As the 3 Series has matured, some trademark playfulness has been lost, but there's still an overwhelming sense of confidence and control." -- AutoTrader
  • We will say that the Bimmer's ride quality appears to be unaffected. The steering, for its part, wasn't detailed any more beyond BMW saying it was more 'refined' and without a 335i on hand for comparison, it was difficult to tell if there was any substantial improvement, and the steering alterations seem to be little more than incremental. But the 340i comes across as eager to play, and the steering feels precise and responsive, if a bit too heavy." -- Car and Driver
  • "The 2016 3 Series' steering system benefits from more rigid mountings intended to introduce more precision and a feeling of stronger connection to the road below. It's generally effective, as the car feels more secure at speed on the interstate and more precise when taking curves, too. The steering's weight increases in the Sport mode, but feels slightly loose on center." -- 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 (2015)

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