2017 BMW 3-Series Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2017 BMW 3-Series was new.


Performance: 8.8

The 2017 BMW 3 Series has a lineup of engines that provides a mixture of power and high fuel efficiency, though the base engine's power is weak for the class. Handling is more refined and stable than sporty, but the 3 Series can still handle corners with ease. The ride quality is comfortable over most surfaces.

  • "The 2017 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 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 (2016)
  • "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 (2016)

Acceleration and Power

The 2017 3 Series comes standard with a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 180 horsepower. Rear-wheel drive and an eight-speed automatic transmission are standard. A six-speed manual transmission and all-wheel drive are available as options. Other engines in the lineup are a 180-horsepower 2.0-liter turbodiesel engine, a 248-horsepower, turbocharged four-cylinder, a 248-horsepower plug-in hybrid, and a 320-horsepower, turbocharged 3.0-liter six-cylinder.

According to EPA estimates, the 3 Series with its base engine gets about average fuel economy for the class, at 23 mpg in the city and 35 mpg on the highway. The plug-in hybrid can go 14 miles on just electric power and gets 71 mpg-e combined city/highway. Fuel efficiency for the top six-cylinder engine is rated at 21 mpg in the city and 32 mpg on the highway.

The high-performance M3 is powered by a twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter six-cylinder engine that makes 425 horsepower and 406 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed manual transmission is standard. Its zero-to-60-mph time is 3.9 seconds. Mileage, not surprisingly, takes a hit with this performance-focused trim, with EPA estimates of 17 mpg in the city and 26 mpg on the highway.

The engine in the base 320i delivers meager power compared to the other engines in the lineup as well as among other cars in the class. Midrange trim levels have more potent engines or get better fuel economy. The 340i has forceful acceleration and is almost comparable to the M3.

  • "For most 3 Series models, power delivery is strong and complemented by benchmark handling and exemplary composure when going around turns. The exception to this is the 320i — 180 hp just isn't a whole lot for a 2017 luxury sedan. It's worth upgrading to the 330i for the extra power, especially because there's virtually no fuel economy penalty. The plug-in 330e and diesel 328d are excellent choices if maximizing your fuel economy potential is a priority, and the six-cylinder 340i accelerates so quickly that it might make spending the extra money for the high-performance M3 hard to justify." -- Edmunds
  • "Every 2017 BMW 3 Series focuses on driving pleasure. It's a trait that puts them at or near the top of the segment in terms of ride and handling. They're all fast and fun to drive. Even the entry-level 320i with its 180-horsepower 4-cylinder engine hits 0-60 mph in a fleet 7.1 seconds, while the 180-horsepower diesel-powered 328d is just a tick slower but manages over 40 mpg. The new 248-horsepower turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder gasoline engine in the 330i is powerful and efficient, and will more than satisfy most drivers. The new turbocharged 6-cylinder in the 340i makes 320 horsepower, has a broad powerband, and sounds great, too. The 8-speed automatic transmission is sublime, and the optional 6-speed manual transmission is a joy." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "In full-automatic operation, the 340i upshifts at 7000 rpm, but in manual mode, it'll keep going to a rather lofty 7400 rpm without showing signs of strain. This engine is a pure delight, and it is a strong piece of evidence to consider when BMW touts its superior engine expertise. We'd take it with the six-speed manual, but the automatic is practically flawless." -- Car and Driver (2016)

Handling and Braking

The 3 Series has excellent driving dynamics, marked by confident cornering abilities and good stability. A few reviewers lament what they perceive to be a loss of sportiness from previous models or when compared to rivals. The 3 Series also exhibits a serene and smooth ride quality, though the Sport driving mode makes the ride harsher without many, if any, benefits.

  • "For most 3 Series models, power delivery is strong and complemented by benchmark handling and exemplary composure when going around turns." -- Edmunds
  • "As the 3 Series has matured, some trademark playfulness has been lost, but there's still an overwhelming sense of confidence and control." -- Autotrader (2016)
  • "Ride quality has been made a noticeable priority in the 340i. When it's left in Normal mode, the shock absorbers do an admirable job of keeping things smooth and comfortable. Sport mode merely makes the ride choppier, not any sportier. For a supposed sports sedan, the 340i doesn't deliver any more sporting an experience than a Mercedes-Benz C-Class or Audi A4, and it feels less engaging than a Cadillac ATS. It feels as if it's been dumbed down from its formerly sharp performance in an effort to give it greater appeal to compact-luxury-sedan buyers, and that's a shame." -- Cars.com (2016)

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