Track Tested: BMW 328i, Six vs. Four


BMW 328i, Six vs. Four

As we all know by now, BMW is just about through with six-cylinder power in its base models. Fuel economy regulations have wrestled the time-honored inline-6 out of the BMW 3 Series engine bay and, in its place, now sits a four-cylinder.

Thankfully, this new four-banger leaves nothing to complain about other than cylinder count. Thanks to turbocharging (a rather effective replacement for displacement) the 2.0-liter I4 makes 240 horsepower and 255 pound-feet of torque compared with 230/200 from the old 3.0-liter. When we dyno'd the new 2.0 it made 240 horsepower and 257 pound-feet of torque — at the wheels. What does this translate to on the track?

  2012 BMW 328i 2010 BMW 328i
0-30 (sec.): 2.1 2.3
0-45 (sec.): 3.9 4.2
0-60 (sec.): 5.9 6.4
0-60 with 1-ft Rollout (sec.): 5.5 6.0
0-75 (sec.): 8.6 9.5
1/4-mile (sec @ mph): 14.1 @ 98.9 14.7 @ 94.8
30-0 (ft): 28 30
60-0 (ft): 115 126
Skid pad lateral accel (g): 0.88 0.84
Slalom: 67.1 65.0

Vehicle: 2012 BMW 328i
Odometer: 2,141
Date: 2/8/2012
Driver: Josh Jacquot
Price:$50,745

Specifications:
Drive Type: Front engine, rear-wheel drive
Transmission Type: Six-speed manual
Engine Type: Turbocharged, direct-injection inline-4
Displacement (cc/cu-in): 1,997/122
Redline (rpm): 7,000
Horsepower (hp @ rpm): 240 @ 5,000
Torque (lb-ft @ rpm): 255 @ 1,250 - 4,800
Brake Type (front): Ventilated discs with single-piston sliding calipers
Brake Type (rear): Ventilated discs with single-piston sliding calipers
Suspension Type(front): Independent MacPherson Strut with dual lower ball joints, coil springs, stabilizer bar
Suspension Type (rear): Independent multilink, coil springs, stabilizer bar
Tire Size (front): 225/45R18 (91V)
Tire Size (rear): 225/45R18 (91V)
Tire Brand: Goodyear
Tire Model: Efficient Grip
Tire Type: Asymmetrical, run-flat, low-rolling-resistance summer
As tested Curb Weight (lb): 3,427

Test Results:

Acceleration:
0-30 (sec): 2.1 (2.7 w/ TC on)
0-45 (sec): 3.9 (4.8 w/ TC on)
0-60 (sec): 5.9 (6.7 w/ TC on)
0-60 with 1-ft Rollout (sec): 5.5 (6.3 w/ TC on)
0-75 (sec): 8.6 (9.5 w/ TC on)
1/4-Mile (sec @ mph): 14.1 @ 98.9 ( 14.1 @ 97.8 w/ TC on)

Braking:
30-0 (ft): 28
60-0 (ft): 115

Handling
Slalom (mph): 67.1 ( 66.7 w/TC off)
Skid Pad Lateral acceleration (g): 0.88 ( 0.86 w/TC on)

Db @ Idle: 41.6
Db @ Full Throttle: 73.9
Db @ 70 mph Cruise: 65.6

Comments:

Acceleration: Rev-limited to 3,800 rpm with ESC on. No limit (besides redline) with it off. Seems relatively indifferent to launch technique. Only a few hundredths separate clutch dump from careful modulation by 60 mph. Shifter is less likable when rushed in this environment. Engine is done at 6,500.

Braking: Confident pedal every stop but fade (+/- 6 feet) is present. Not the best braking in the segment.

Handling:
Skid pad: Heavy steering with quite good communication at the limit. More body roll than expected makes sensing grip limits more difficult. Still, good balance. Adjustable, but slower to respond than I'd prefer.

Slalom: Ample body roll makes quick transitions feel awkward. Even so, limits are reasonably well defined. Excellent ESC produces quickest slalom time by 0.04 second.

Vehicle: 2010 BMW 328i
Odometer: 996
Date: 5/25/2010
Driver: Chris Walton
Price: $35,575

Specifications:

Drive Type: Rear-wheel drive
Transmission Type: Six-speed manual
Engine Type: Inline-6
Displacement (cc/cu-in): 2,996/183
Redline (rpm): 7,000
Horsepower (hp @ rpm): 230 @ 6,500
Torque (lb-ft @ rpm): 200 @ 2,750
Brake Type (front): Ventilated disc
Brake Type (rear): Ventilated disc
Steering System: Speed-proportional power steering
Suspension Type (front): MacPherson strut
Suspension Type (rear): Multilink
Tire Size (front): 225/45R17
Tire Size (rear): 225/45R17
Tire Brand: Continental
Tire Model: ContiProContact SSR RSC
Tire Type: All-season
Wheel Size: 17-by-7 inches front and rear
Wheel Material (front/rear): Alloy
As Tested Curb Weight (lb): 3,314

Test Results:
0 - 30 (sec): 2.3
0 - 45 (sec): 4.2
0 - 60 (sec): 6.4
0 - 60 with 1-ft Rollout (sec): 6.0
0 - 75 (sec): 9.5
1/4 Mile (sec @ mph): 14.7 @ 94.8

30 - 0 (ft): 30
60 - 0 (ft): 126

Braking Rating: Average
Slalom (mph): 65.0
Skid Pad Lateral Acceleration (g): 0.84

Db @ Idle: 43.8
Db @ Full Throttle: 70.2
Db @ 70 mph Cruise: 64.5

Acceleration Comments: About a half second was gained with a wheel-spinning launch. The shifter is happy to be slammed, and there is some sort of spark/retard or electronic shift smoothing that utterly eliminates shift shock at redline (or even below). Seems to make most of its power up high in the rev range.

Braking Comments: Consistently average distances with virtually zero fade or loss of pedal feel. Very little dive under hard braking.

Handling Comments:

Slalom: With ESP off, this is a perfect teaching instrument for rear-wheel-drive dynamics — every driver input has an immediate, predictable and appropriate outcome. Not the fastest sedan ever through the cones, but one of the best in terms of feel and setup.

Skid pad: Moderate understeer and good response to the throttle means the steering wheel doesn't move one bit all the way around the circle. While the ultimate figure is not world-class, everything about the way the steering felt during the test was exceptional.

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