2008 BMW 3 Series Sedan Review | Edmunds.com

2008 BMW 3 Series Sedan

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Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) is a category of used car. Often late-model vehicles, they have been inspected, refurbished, if necessary, and are under warranty by the manufacturer.
BMW 3 Series Features and Specs

Features & Specs

  • Engine 3.0 L Inline 6-cylinder
  • Drivetrain All Wheel Drive
  • Transmission 6-speed Manual
  • Horse Power 300 hp @ 5800 rpm
  • Fuel Economy 16/25 mpg
  • Bluetooth No
  • Navigation No
  • Heated Seats Yes

Review of the 2008 BMW 3 Series

  • Fully deserving of its popularity, the 2008 BMW 3 Series sets the standard for overall driving enjoyment, luxury and refinement in four different luxury segments. Only its high price will give you pause.

  • Safety
  • Pros

    Perfectly sorted vehicle dynamics, potent and refined engines, high-quality interior materials, wide range of configurations, convertible's sleek retractable hardtop.

  • Cons

    Costs more than most competitors, not much interior storage space, navigation system brings with it exasperating iDrive, plain-Jane interior design.

  • What's New for 2008

    Having introduced two all-new body styles last year, the 3 Series undergoes few changes for 2008. Most notable is the addition of the 335xi coupe, which adds all-wheel drive to the turbocharged 3 Series two-door. Sedans and wagons equipped with the six-speed automatic and Sport Package can now be upgraded with steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters. The convertible carries over unchanged.

Full 2008 BMW 3 Series Review

What's New for 2008

Having introduced two all-new body styles last year, the 3 Series undergoes few changes for 2008. Most notable is the addition of the 335xi coupe, which adds all-wheel drive to the turbocharged 3 Series two-door. Sedans and wagons equipped with the six-speed automatic and Sport Package can now be upgraded with steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters. The convertible carries over unchanged.

Introduction

In the past decade, the BMW 3 Series has been the benchmark against which all other entry-level luxury cars have arguably been designed to compete with and/or beat. To date, a scant few have been able to accomplish the latter. And even when that happens, this Bavarian classic has consistently retaken its crown. Last year saw the addition of a very potent twin-turbo engine and the arrival of fully up-to-date coupe and convertible models. The 2008 BMW 3 Series carries over mostly unchanged and despite fierce competition, retains its benchmark status.

If you're in the market for an entry-level luxury car, chances are there's a 3 Series to consider. There are four body styles, two engines, two transmissions and a choice of rear- or all-wheel drive. Also, a variety of luxury and performance-oriented options allow you to equip the 3 as luxuriously and/or as sporty as you see fit. Regardless of configuration, this BMW lives up to its "ultimate driving machine" tag line with an unparalleled mix of driving ease and proficiency. Even the convertible model manages to retain much of the 3's handling pedigree, despite its added weight and loss of structural rigidity.

In several comparison tests Edmunds.com conducted over the past year, the 3 Series proved over and over again that it's the top dog in the pound -- especially the 335 and its spectacular turbocharged inline-6. We placed the Infiniti G35 Sport above the 335i sedan in one test, but that was due to the substantial price premium commanded by the Bimmer. In fact, the 3 Series' price is its only significant detriment -- a fully loaded 335i sedan can reach $50,000, while the convertible touches 60 large. "Entry level" it ain't.

If price or getting the latest electronic goodies is more important to you, competitors like the Infiniti G35/G37, Cadillac CTS, Mercedes-Benz C-Class, Audi A4 and Volvo C70 are very attractive competitors. Even when discussing driving enjoyment, most deliver at a level that many consumers will find extremely rewarding and downright fun. Still, the 2008 BMW 3 Series remains the benchmark. As always, it provides a tremendous mix of handling, ride quality, performance, luxury and styling. Heck, it's even pretty fuel efficient. For an entry-level luxury car, this is our top choice.

Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options

A compact entry-level luxury car, the 2008 BMW 3 Series is available in sedan, coupe, hardtop convertible and wagon body styles. All 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 and coupe are available as the all-wheel-drive 335xi.

Standard equipment on the 328 models includes 16-inch alloy wheels, heated side mirrors, a sunroof, leatherette upholstery, real walnut wood trim, automatic climate control and a 10-speaker CD stereo with an auxiliary audio jack. Coupe and convertible versions of the 328 come with slightly more equipment. The coupe also has a sport-tuned suspension while the convertible has a power-retractable hardtop. In addition to its more powerful engine, the 335 model has 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 (heat-reflective in the convertible), a full set of auto-dimming mirrors, Bluetooth, 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), heated front seats and satellite radio. Paddle shifters can be added to models equipped with the automatic transmission and the Sport Package. You can also replace the standard walnut interior accents with either light poplar or aluminum trim at no additional cost.

Powertrains and Performance

The 2008 BMW 328i and 328xi are powered by a 3.0-liter inline-6 rated at 230 horsepower and 200 pound-feet of torque. The 335i and 335xi are powered by a heavily modified, twin-turbocharged version of the same 3.0-liter engine that produces an impressive 300 hp and 300 lb-ft of torque. A six-speed manual is the standard gearbox and a six-speed automatic is optional. In performance testing, the turbocharged 3 Series sedan and coupe raced up to 60 mph in fewer than 5 seconds -- about the same as the last M3. The heavier 335xi and convertible 335i are a tad slower. Expect the 328i to be in the mid-6-second range, which is hardly pokey.

Despite its potent power plants, the 3 Series remains fuel efficient. The 328 gets about 17-18 mpg in the city and 25-28 mpg on the highway, depending on the body style, transmission and drivetrain. A rear-drive 335i has a 17/26 mpg rating regardless of transmission.

Safety

Standard safety equipment on the 2008 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 convertible lacks the side curtains, but the regular front side airbags extend up to head level and there are also pop-up rollover hoops. 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 so well) and snugging the pads to the rotors when the driver abruptly lifts off the throttle, which quickens brake responsiveness.

In government crash tests, the sedan and wagon received four out of five stars for frontal collision protection and five stars for side protection. In Insurance Institute for Highway Safety frontal-offset crash testing, both the sedan and convertible received the highest rating of "Good." In the IIHS side crash test, the sedan received a "Good," while the convertible received a third-best "Marginal" rating.

Interior Design and Special Features

The 3 Series interiors provide a restrained show of luxury. Though a tad plain, 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 (vinyl) upholstery looks and feels better than one would expect. The convertible's available industry-first heat-reflective leather does a wonderful job of keeping occupants' posteriors cool. We'd steer clear of the optional navigation system, though, as its accompanying iDrive interface is very unintuitive.

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.

Driving Impressions

There's no going wrong with either of the engines available in the 2008 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. Meanwhile, the twin-turbo engine provides the kind of acceleration formerly associated with the high-performance M3.

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.

What Others Are Saying

Customer Reviews


1 of 3 people found this review helpful

Failed tensmission 54,000 miles

by on
Vehicle: 2008 BMW 3 Series 328xi 4dr Sedan AWD (3.0L 6cyl 6M)

I trusted BMW to stand for quality. Who needs (7) year 100,000 mile powertrain warranty those are for compromised American brands or new Korean ones without a track record. O boy! I was wrong to learn that BMW does not give a crap about quality and customers. With a car just out of the 50,000 mile warranty failing the transmission is normal thing you are on your own.



1 of 3 people found this review helpful

Bmw has to stand behind

by on
Vehicle: 2008 BMW 3 Series 335i 4dr Sedan (3.0L 6cyl Turbo 6M)

Just traded my 330i for a 335i. There was no other cost effective way to get that next 50 HP out of the engine (which was fast enough for most folks, but once you get that bug). This car is incredible (Incredible!!) And if you are older than 45, this car is more like a sci-fi transporter out of a comic book. It's so smooth and goes so easily 30mph over the speed limit that you'll think it's a set up by the Klingons to get your money. However, three problems remain in the 2007 and up, 1: subframe/serpentine belt damage 2: wastegate failure in the turbo/turbos 3: high pressure fuel pump failure. To some extent BMW has addressed two of three. So do your homework, the 335 will smile on you.



2 of 2 people found this review helpful

Dream car

by on
Vehicle: 2008 BMW 3 Series 335xi 4dr Sedan AWD (3.0L 6cyl Turbo 6M)

I have owned my 335xi for almost 2 years. (6 speed manual, platinum bronze metallic, cw package, adaptivelights) It has 44K miles and my total maintenance cost has been an oil changes, a set of tires and a set of spark plugs (turbo needs them replaced at 45K mi). Agree with other posters, this just a downright FAST car. High speed merge, no problem, pop it down into 3rd and "engage".



6 of 6 people found this review helpful

What exactly is german engineering?

by on
Vehicle: 2008 BMW 3 Series 335i 4dr Sedan (3.0L 6cyl Turbo 6M)

Bought this car in November 2010 with 50k miles as a CPO. Water pumps are electric and go out every 50k miles or so, covered under cpo. Injectors on this car are notorious for failing, had 3 fail on my car also covered under cpo. Finally the condensor was leaking also replaced under warranty. I sold the car recently for a good price as it still had one year left on the maintenance and warranty. But the new owner reported serpentine belt failure. This is due to a bad subfram design and driver side engine mount which allows the belt to hit the subframe, over time the belt will shear and WILL FAIL. BMW has a "New" subframe but will not cover costs to fix their mistake. Idiots.



2 of 2 people found this review helpful

Bw328i great car but repairs

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Vehicle: 2008 BMW 3 Series 328i 4dr Sedan (3.0L 6cyl 6M)

I have driven a 2008 BW328i for a year and a half now. It's fun to drive with precise handling, quick braking, and very good acceleration. The interior is nice with leather seats but some trim parts aren't great. The retractable cupholders are prone to breaking and expensive to replace. Brake dust is excessive too with the stock brakepads making the wheels always dusty. I enjoy the car very much as it is well designed with high quality components for the most part. I would warn any Raleigh, North Carolina prospective BMW buyers to avoid Leith BMW due to dishonest sales and service practices.



6 of 6 people found this review helpful

Best car i've owned

by on
Vehicle: 2008 BMW 3 Series 328i 4dr Sedan (3.0L 6cyl 6M)

I owned a 2002 325i before I bought my 2008 328i sedan new four years ago. The OEM Bridgestone run-flats were even more awful than many folks are willing to say. After my run-flats wore out at only 16K, I replaced them with a set of Michellin Pilot Sport A/S Plus. After 10K, these tires are wearing very well and give me a soft, quiet, and great-handling ride. The car has been incredibly reliable--simply outstanding since the beginning--and still puts a smile on my face when I drive it. It has a sporty yet secure, comfottable ride and I get about 18 mpg in the city and almost 30 on the highway.



Talk About The 2008 3 Series

2008 BMW 3 Series Discussions See all Started By

zack66
zack66
03-09-2007
The new hardtop convertible is now arriving in the US as a 2007 model (originally some were saying that this was going to be introduced as 2008, but that didn't happen)....


birdrules
birdrules
08-02-2008
Interesting article in NYTimes with quote from BMW spokeman that using regular grade does no harm to the engine....


berenzweig
berenzweig
12-17-2007
I just got my new 2008 328i sedan last week. Needless to say, I love the car. I was wondering about the headlamps. I am interested in driving with only the two front "ring" lights on. I?...



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  • 16
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  • 25
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