2012 BMW 3 Series Coupe Review | Edmunds.com

2012 BMW 3 Series Coupe

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BMW 3 Series Features and Specs

Features & Specs

  • Engine 3.0 L Inline 6-cylinder
  • Drivetrain Rear Wheel Drive
  • Transmission 6-speed Manual
  • Horse Power 300 hp @ 5800 rpm
  • Fuel Economy 19/28 mpg
  • Bluetooth No
  • Navigation No
  • Heated Seats Yes

Review of the 2012 BMW 3 Series

  • The 3 Series sedan is all-new for 2012, but the other body styles carry over unchanged. Regardless, this BMW stalwart remains a well-rounded and highly desirable entry-level luxury car.

  • Safety
  • Pros

    Excellent ride/handling balance; powerful and reasonably efficient engines; upscale cabin; four body styles; elegant hardtop convertible design.

  • Cons

    Limited interior storage space; options can inflate price quickly; new sedan is less involving to drive than carry-over models.

  • What's New for 2012

    The 2012 BMW 3 Series sedan has been fully redesigned. Highlights include updated styling, additional interior room and new engine and transmission options that bring about better fuel economy and power. The 2012 3 Series coupe, convertible and wagon models are unchanged and still belong to the previous generation.

Full 2012 BMW 3 Series Review

What's New for 2012

The 2012 BMW 3 Series sedan has been fully redesigned. Highlights include updated styling, additional interior room and new engine and transmission options that bring about better fuel economy and power. The 2012 3 Series coupe, convertible and wagon models are unchanged and still belong to the previous generation.


Don't mess with a good thing. You can imagine these words hanging above the engineers and designers who created the redesigned 2012 BMW 3 Series. It wouldn't be far-fetched to call the 3 Series a legend, as it has collected countless accolades, a devoted customer base and excellent sales during its five previous generations. It has consistently been the benchmark for which all others in its price segment are judged. In other words, it's a big deal when a new 3 Series is introduced.

For this year, BMW is introducing the new sedan only. The coupe, convertible and wagon (all of which we still highly recommend) are unchanged other than gaining some extra standard equipment. As for the sedan, its evolutionary look draws liberally from the 5 Series, but the 3's new nose is a break from tradition, with headlight clusters that meet widened kidney grilles. The interior gets a far more visually interesting design than the rather plain one it replaces. The addition of three optional "equipment lines" -- Luxury, Sport and Modern -- bring with them different color schemes and trim materials that add to the 3's customization potential.

The new 3 Series sedan is larger than the outgoing car but actually weighs less, thanks, in part, to increased use of aluminum in the revised suspension. The steering is now electrically driven; this helps to increase fuel efficiency, though it's lost a bit of that trademark BMW steering feel in the process. Like all recently introduced BMW models, the 3 Series gets Driving Dynamics Control, which allows the driver to select among four modes that alter throttle response, steering effort and shift patterns of the automatic transmission.

Under the hood, the base model 328i sedan loses its naturally aspirated inline-6 in favor of a turbocharged four-cylinder that produces more power and torque and also achieves truly incredible fuel economy. BMW purists may cringe at the words "four-cylinder," but it's quicker than the old car and vastly more efficient to boot. Those purists will at least be happy to hear that the 335i's turbocharged inline-6 carries on. A new, optional eight-speed automatic transmission and a fuel-saving auto stop/start system round out the powertrain changes.

The redesigned BMW 3 Series sedan is, for the most part, improved for 2012, and yet its stronger competition makes choosing one harder than it's ever been. The Audi A4 and S4, Infiniti G and Mercedes-Benz C-Class are all excellent choices. Each of those also offers different body styles that are for the most part similarly appealing. Nevertheless, the new 3 is still a winner even if BMW decided to mess with a good thing.

Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options

The 2012 BMW 3 Series is available in sedan, coupe, hardtop convertible and wagon body styles. The coupe, convertible and wagon belong to the previous-generation body style, whereas the sedan is an all-new model.

Every body style starts off in 328i guise. The sedan comes standard with 17-inch alloy wheels, adjustable drive settings, automatic headlights, foglights, automatic wipers, cruise control, automatic dual-zone climate control, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, eight-way manual front seats, leatherette premium vinyl upholstery, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, Bluetooth phone connectivity, the iDrive electronics interface and a premium sound system with a CD player, HD radio, an auxiliary audio jack and an iPod/USB audio interface.

The coupe differs with a sport-tuned suspension, while the convertible gets a fully powered retractable hardtop and 10-way power front seats with memory functions. Both two-door body styles add adaptive xenon headlights and a 60/40-split-folding rear seat. The wagon differs from the sedan's equipment with 16-inch alloy wheels and a panoramic sunroof, while not including the auxiliary audio jack and iPod/USB audio interface. None of the above include the sedan's adjustable drive settings or Bluetooth, but the latter is an option.

The 335i primarily represents a more powerful engine and is available on all but the wagon. On the sedan, it also adds 18-inch alloy wheels, adaptive xenon headlights, automatic high beams, a sunroof, eight-way power front seats (with four-way power lumbar) and an auto-dimming mirror. The coupe and convertible are similarly equipped, but lack the auto-dimming mirror and automatic high beams. The convertible adds heat-reflective leather upholstery.

The 335is coupe and convertible get an upgraded engine, sport exhaust, a sportier suspension calibration, 18-inch wheels, unique styling elements, sport seats and a sport steering wheel.

Most of the extra items on certain body styles and trims are available as options on the others. There are many other options available as well, most of which are available both within packages and as stand-alone options. These include larger wheels, an automatic parking system (sedan only), headlight washers, parking sensors, keyless ignition/entry, an active steering system, heated front seats, heated rear seats (sedan only), a heated steering wheel, a power rear sunshade (coupe only), BMW Assist emergency communications system (includes Bluetooth), a navigation system (includes BMW's iDrive electronics interface), a head-up display (sedan only), satellite radio and a Harman Kardon surround-sound audio system.

Finally, the sedan can be equipped with three optional equipment lines -- Luxury, Sport and Modern -- that include different wheel designs, color schemes, trim types, seats, steering wheels and even suspension tuning.

Powertrains and Performance

The 328i sedan is powered by a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder that produces 240 horsepower and 255 pound-feet of torque. Rear-wheel drive and a six-speed manual transmission are standard; an eight-speed automatic is optional. Both come with an auto start/stop function that turns off the engine when the car stops in order to save fuel. In Edmunds performance testing, a manual-equipped 328i went from zero to 60 mph in 5.9 seconds -- quicker than all its four-cylinder competitors. EPA-estimated fuel economy is 24 mpg city/36 mpg highway and 28 mpg combined with the automatic, and 23/34/27 with the manual -- these are both exceptional for the class.

The 328i coupe, convertible and wagon get a 3.0-liter inline-6 that produces 230 hp and 200 lb-ft of torque. Rear-wheel drive and a six-speed manual are standard; a six-speed automatic and all-wheel drive are optional. BMW estimates a manual-equipped coupe would go from zero to 60 mph in 6.2 seconds -- all other transmissions and body styles would be within a second slower than that. EPA-estimated fuel economy is 18/28/22 for the rear-drive coupe regardless of transmission. The other body styles and all-wheel drive achieve 1 or 2 mpg worse in each cycle.

All 335i models regardless of body style get a 3.0-liter turbocharged six-cylinder that produces 300 hp and 300 lb-ft of torque. Each body style gets the same transmission and drivetrain choices as their respective 328i versions. BMW estimates a 0-60 time of 5.4 seconds for the sedan, and in Edmunds performance testing the coupe was a little quicker than that. Fuel economy estimates for the 335i sedan are an impressive 23/33/26 with the automatic and 20/30/23 with the manual. The coupe gets a still solid 19/28/22 with rear-wheel drive and the manual. The automatic and all-wheel drive drop those estimates by 1 or 2 mpg depending on body style.

The 335is has a twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter six-cylinder good for 320 hp and 332 lb-ft of torque. There is also a temporary overboost function that bumps max torque up to 370 lb-ft. A six-speed manual is standard, and a seven-speed automated dual-clutch manual known as DCT is optional. In Edmunds performance testing, a manual-equipped 335is Coupe went from zero to 60 mph in 5 seconds. Fuel economy with the manual is 18/26/21 and 17/24/19 with DCT.


Every 2012 BMW 3 Series comes standard with antilock brakes, traction and stability control, front side airbags and side curtain airbags. The sedan gets front knee 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 dry when the windshield wipers are in use and automatically snugging the pads to the rotors when the driver abruptly lifts off the throttle. BMW Assist emergency communications is optional.

In Edmunds brake testing, a 328i with 18-inch summer tires came to a stop from 60 mph in 115 feet, an average distance for this type of car with summer tires.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the 3 Series sedan the highest possible rating of "Good" in the frontal-offset, side and roof strength tests. The convertible received a "Good" in its frontal-offset crash test and the second-lowest "Marginal" score in the side-impact test.

Interior Design and Special Features

The redesigned 3 Series sedan cabin gets a more contemporary update compared to the other body styles, especially around the dash, doors and center console. Sharper angles and bisecting trim pieces replace the former generation's more austere lines and bulges, while trim finishes range from cool aluminum to textured faux-wood.

But BMW hallmarks remain: classic analog gauges, sensible ergonomics and a restrained overall aesthetic. The new sedan comes with three choices of equipment lines -- Luxury, Sport and Modern -- that, among other things, change the color scheme and trim type in the cabin. It's a nice touch that allows a greater amount of customization.

The base seats are comfortable and supportive, while the Sport package's purpose-built seats are even more so. Materials and build quality are exceptional; even the standard leatherette (vinyl) upholstery looks and feels better than one would expect. The convertible's available heat-reflective leather does a wonderful job of keeping occupants' posteriors cool. The intuitive iDrive electronics interface is one of the best of its kind, made better in the new sedan with a 6.5-inch widescreen display that looks like a large smartphone standing on its side. The monitor helps weave through BMW's dense menu structures, but really shines when paired with the optional navigation system.

The 3 Series' backseat is one of the more spacious in the entry-level luxury segment regardless of body style, and the new sedan's length adds a little legroom front and rear. Trunk space is average in the coupe, 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 predictably shrinks considerably when the top is lowered. Still, it's possible to store a standard roller suitcase back there or two smaller bags.

Driving Impressions

With its new turbocharged four-cylinder base engine, electrically driven steering, multiple drive settings and all-new chassis, the 2012 BMW 3 Series sedan provides a slightly different driving experience than before. It still has sharp reflexes, but its steering doesn't offer quite as much feedback as the previous model. Driving enthusiasts will likely prefer the slightly crisper and more dynamic feel of the carry-over coupe and convertible. The new sedan does ride better and remains a wonderful long-distance cruiser, boasting both a supple ride and a hushed cabin. But in terms of being exceptionally fun to drive, the 3 Series is no longer a standout for the sport sedan class.

Still, we have no complaints about the 328i sedan's new turbocharged four-cylinder engine. It provides quick acceleration and a healthy boost to fuel economy. Most shoppers will be pretty happy with this engine. But should you want the traditional inline-6 experience, the 335i adds a huge wallop of turbo torque that's always on tap, while the 335is goes a bit further and sounds especially delectable to boot.

What Others Are Saying

Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

In love with this car

by on
Vehicle: 2011 BMW 3 Series

Just picked up my new 2011 328i yesterday with M Sport Package and I have already put over 100 miles on the car. This is a car you just want to keep driving. It is so incredibly smooth it is amazing. The M sport package is well worth it... changes the look and feel of the car. This is my 3rd BMW and has to be my favorite one of all. It has a premium feel to it. The inline 6 engine has plenty of power to it.

8 of 8 people found this review helpful

The most fun you can

by on
Vehicle: 2011 BMW 3 Series

This is almost the perfect driving machine. It is the first car since my new 1970 modified Corvette I actually take out for a drive just for the fun of it. This car is engineering perfection. Easy to drive under any conditions and easy to live with on a day by day basis. Gets unbelievable gas mileage for what it is: 19.2, all city, break-in, stop and go dirving; 24, combined, varying rpm 2000 to 4000 for break-in. Seats are more comfortable by a long shot than those in my 2008 550i. Heater/ air conditioner works much better that 550i. No I-drive, a vast improvement. The drive by wire is a vast improvement over the 550i which always reminded me control was a request, not an order.

Beautiful, fun ride

by on
Vehicle: 2011 BMW 3 Series

As a longtime owner of Lexus cars and former writer who has reviewed their share of autos, I looked at BMW, Audi, and Lexus to choose from (Audi= sketchy reliability history; performance not yet on par w/others; Lexus=overall good cars but no styles of late that get my blood going). The BMW 3 series couple always had my attention and the 328 couple I purchased does not disappoint. It hangs well on S-curves and braking power is amazing. The body is sturdy and interior is simple yet timeless. Pros: Total driving joy Superficial Factor: I have received more compliments on this car than any other Cons: The cup holders can make some drinks jumpy but with respect to the total car, can forgive it

Bearing noise

by on
Vehicle: 2011 BMW 3 Series

Overall, I the 328i Coupe with the M Sports package is a great car. It handles great and the design/look of the car, I feel is awesome. The only complaint I have is a fairly loud bearing noise (sounds like power steering). I brought this back to the dealer and was advised it is normal, but I find it a very annoying. I tend to focus on the noise every time I start the car. Other than that, it is a great car.

Nice car, but not perfect

by on
Vehicle: 2011 BMW 3 Series

I like the seats, the xdrive system, idrive, etc., though there could be more storage space in the cabin. I recently got 28mpg on a trip with three adults and bags. My speedometer however reads 4-5 mph high at 70 mph, and BMW has told me that that is well within their acceptable range. I don't think I should have to resort to using a free iPhone app or GPS device to determine how fast I'm going when I dropped 45K on a car. This situation is apparently prevalent on BMWs.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

Lots of fun. but often

by on
Vehicle: 2011 BMW 3 Series

First let me say, this car is the most fun you can have. Even on the days you drive the speed limit! Equally capable cruising the highway or city driving. I get around 30/mpg highway. Exterior is a head- Turner and I get lots of compliments around town. Nice interior with great improvements to idrive/navigation. Cup holders are still horrible. But if you buy a BMW for the functionality of the cup holders, you are wrong! I really just have one major complaint. I've driven less than 3500 miles and my baby is already in the shop! It appears the mysterious fuel pump "gremlins" continue to plague the 335! Frustrating isn't even the word! Makes me think I should have got a c63 instead?

Talk About The 2012 3 Series

Gas Mileage


  • 19
  • cty
  • 28
  • highway
Calculate Yearly Fuel Costs

Identifix Reliability Ratings

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