Full 2007 BMW 3 Series Review
What's New for 2007
The BMW 3 Series coupe returns for 2007 with a twin-turbocharged six-cylinder engine and a sleek new body that puts more aesthetic distance between it and the sedan. Rated for 300 horsepower, that twin-turbo engine also finds its way to the 2007 BMW 3 Series sedan line, where the 330i becomes the 335i but still displaces an even 3.0 liters. Now rated for 230 hp, base 3 Series coupes, sedans and wagons are renamed 328i and, when equipped with all-wheel drive, 328xi. Note that the coupe and wagon can be had in both rear-drive and AWD configurations this year. Equipment changes include a lengthened four-year subscription to BMW Assist telematics on cars with the Premium Package and real-time traffic updates on models with the navigation system. Midway through the model year, BMW introduces a redesigned 3 Series convertible with a retractable hardtop, and an all-wheel-drive 335xi sedan.
If you're thinking about buying an entry-level luxury car this year, your attention will undoubtedly turn to the 2007 BMW 3 Series, which we consider the top candidate in this class by a significant margin. Whether your priority is an engaging driving experience, an elegant cabin environment or simply curbside prestige, this car delivers in spades.
The sedan and wagon were completely redesigned for 2006, and this year the coupe and convertible get the same ground-up makeover. The coupe is longer and lower than the previous-generation two-door, and with its tidier tail design, it's arguably more attractive than the sedan. Much the same can be said of the late-arriving convertible, as its retractable hardtop gives it much the same look as the coupe with the top raised. With the top down, the 3 Series convertible offers clean, uninterrupted lines. The hardtop itself is comprised of three folding steel panels which, mechanisms and all, pad on an additional 450 pounds over the 3 Series coupe. In order to maintain optimal front-to-rear weight distribution in the pudgier convertible, plastic quarter panels are used up front. According to BMW, these new panels are not only 50 percent lighter than equivalent steel versions, they're also dent-resistant.
The other major development for 2007 is the arrival of a twin-turbocharged six-cylinder engine -- it's the first turbocharged gasoline BMW engine in decades. Standard on the top-line 335i convertible, coupe and sedan (which supersede last year's 330 models), this force-fed 3.0-liter inline-6 foregos the aluminum-magnesium block found in the normally aspirated version in favor of an all-aluminum block. It also uses the latest direct-fuel-injection technology, which improves efficiency and performance by contributing to a cooler intake charge, thus allowing a high 10.2:1 compression ratio. Turbo lag is essentially nonexistent, giving the new engine the feel of a much larger normally aspirated engine. Meanwhile, last year's 325 models give way to the 328i and 328xi, which still have a 3.0-liter engine but are now rated for 230 hp and 200 pound-feet of torque. All-wheel drive is a new option on the coupe, and unlike last year, buyers have the option of getting a rear-drive wagon.
With its extensive array of body styles and drivetrain configurations, the 2007 BMW 3 Series will accommodate just about anybody's tastes. Want a sport sedan or sport coupe? Go with the twin-turbo engine, a manual gearbox and the optional sport suspension. Or, you can play up the luxury angle by adding the Premium Package and an automatic transmission. Choose all-wheel drive and the compact Bimmer becomes a capable snowbelt car. The major knock against the 3 Series has always been its high price of admission, as comparably equipped versions of the Acura TL, Audi A4, Infiniti G35, Lexus IS, Saab 9-3 and Volvo C70/S40/V50 can all be had for less money -- in some cases, substantially less. These cars are all worth considering if you're mainly looking for a luxury experience, but for those who put driving dynamics above all other concerns, none will satisfy like the BMW 3 Series.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
A compact entry-level luxury car, the 2007 BMW 3 Series is available in convertible, coupe, sedan and wagon body styles. All body styles come in a rear-wheel-drive 328i trim level, while the coupe, sedan and wagon also come in all-wheel-drive 328xi trim. In addition, the convertible, coupe and sedan are available as the rear-drive 335i, and the sedan alone is available as the all-wheel-drive 335xi.
Standard equipment on the 328 models includes 16-inch alloy wheels, automatic headlights, heated mirrors, a moonroof, leatherette upholstery, real walnut wood trim, automatic climate control, a 10-speaker CD stereo with an input jack for MP3 players, and rain-sensing wipers. Coupe and convertible versions of the 328 come with slightly more equipment, including 17-inch wheels and xenon headlamps; the coupe also has a sport-tuned suspension while the convertible has a power-retractable hardtop. In addition to their more powerful engine, the 335 models have power front seats and a premium Harman Kardon Logic 7 sound system.
Most 3 Series cars you encounter on dealer lots will be equipped with the Premium Package, and many will have both the Premium and Sport Packages. The Premium Package provides leather upholstery, a full set of auto-dimming mirrors, Bluetooth connectivity, BMW Assist telematics, and on 328 models, power seats. The Sport Package specifies a firmer suspension on convertibles, sedans and wagons, along with larger wheels, performance tires, sport seats and a higher top-speed limiter. Stand-alone extras include an iDrive-based navigation system with real-time traffic updates, active steering, adaptive cruise control, keyless startup (known as Comfort Access), three-stage heated seats and satellite radio. You can also replace the standard walnut interior accents with either light poplar or aluminum trim at no additional cost.
Powertrains and Performance
All 328i and 328xi models come with a 3.0-liter inline six-cylinder engine rated for 230 hp and 200 lb-ft of torque. The 335i and 335xi models come with a heavily modified version of this engine equipped with twin turbochargers and direct injection. Output is an impressive 300 hp and 300 lb-ft of torque. A six-speed manual gearbox is standard across the board, and a six-speed automatic with a manual mode is optional on all 3 Series models. Fuel economy is above average, as rear-drive Bimmers return about 20 mpg in the city and close to 30 on the highway.
Standard safety equipment on the 2007 BMW 3 Series includes antilock disc brakes, dynamic brake control, stability control, run-flat tires, front-seat side airbags and full-length side curtain airbags. The 3 Series convertible lacks the side curtains but has a rollover protection system. The stability control system integrates several features designed to improve braking performance, such as periodically wiping the brake rotors when the windshield wipers are in use (wet brakes don't stop too well) and snugging the pads to the rotors when the driver lifts off the throttle, which increases brake responsiveness. Rear parking sensors are optional on all 3 Series cars.
In NHTSA crash tests, the four-door cars earned four out of five stars for frontal-impact safety and five stars for side-impact safety. In IIHS tests, the four-doors earned a "Good" rating (the best possible) for their protection of occupants in frontal-offset and side-impact crashes.
Interior Design and Special Features
The 3 Series interiors provide a restrained show of luxury. The emphasis, through items such as supportive seats and clean analog gauges, is on driver comfort and involvement. Materials are high in quality and build quality is exceptional; indeed, even the standard leatherette upholstery looks and feels better than one would expect. The front seats have enough firm support to ward off fatigue during a day's worth of driving, while the rear seats are adequately roomy for adults on shorter trips and plenty accommodating for children. Trunk space is average in sedans and coupes, while the wagon offers a maximum cargo capacity of 61 cubic feet. The convertible offers a reasonable cargo hold when the hardtop is up, but it shrinks considerably when the top is lowered.
There's no going wrong with either of the engines available in the 2007 BMW 3 Series. The standard, normally aspirated engine is a little light on low-end torque, but it moves the car around smartly and provides slightly better mileage. The new twin-turbo engine provides the kind of acceleration formerly associated with the high-performance M3, launching the 335i coupe and sedan to 60 mph in close to 5 seconds flat. No matter which model you choose, the 3 Series' world-class suspension, steering and brakes will provide hours of entertainment on twisty two-lane highways. Beyond simply feeling rock-solid when hustled around turns, this car communicates with the driver in a manner that inspires confidence no matter what kind of driving you're doing. At the same time, the 3 Series is an ideal long-distance cruiser, delivering both a comfortably controlled ride and a quiet cabin environment.