Used 2011 BMW 3 Series Coupe
- Unmatched ride/handling balance, smooth and powerful engines, reasonably fuel-efficient, upscale cabin, four body styles, elegant hardtop convertible design, available diesel engine.
- Limited interior storage space, compromised rear headroom, options can inflate price quickly.
Used 2011 BMW 3 Series Coupe for Sale
Edmunds' Expert Review
Even entering the sixth year of its present generation, the 2011 BMW 3 Series remains the best entry-level luxury sedan you can buy.
They say that variety is the spice of life. If that's true, the 2011 BMW 3 Series can make things hotter than a habanero. You can get a sedan, a wagon, a coupe and a convertible; there are two turbocharged six-cylinders, a wickedly torquey diesel engine and a regular six-cylinder that's hardly a slouch. Then there are more add-ons to be had than ornaments for a Christmas tree. Yep, there's really something for everyone, which partly explains why the 3 Series has been so popular for so long. Oh, and the fact that it's one of the finest automobiles on the globe may have something to do with it, too.
Now in its sixth year since the last full redesign, the BMW 3 Series soldiers on with key changes for 2011. The coupe and convertible get a mild styling refresh that only the keen eyes of Bimmerphiles will notice. More important, though, is an all-new engine for the 335i models. Its output remains the same, but the switch to a single twin-scroll turbocharger in place of the old engine's dual single-scroll turbochargers combines with direct injection to improve fuel economy. Not only is the new 335i thriftier than the old one, it sips slightly less fuel than the 328i.
The old twin-turbo inline-6 lives on, however, in the new 335is coupe and convertible. This sport-tuned version produces 320 horsepower and 332 pound-feet of torque, with an overboost function that can briefly bump torque up to 370 lb-ft. We're guessing that the 335is will hit 60 mph in just a hair under 5 seconds. In many ways bridging the gap between 335i and M3, the 335is also features a sport-tuned suspension and exhaust, an aerodynamic body kit, sport seats and a chunkier steering wheel.
Otherwise, the 3 Series remains one of the most desirable vehicles on the road. Quite simply, no other entry-level luxury model can match the Bimmer's exquisite combination of athletic handling and premium ride comfort. Even the base suspension setup is more capable than most, while the Sport package gives it sports-car-grade cornering capabilities without the slightest hint of impact harshness. This sophisticated dual nature has often been imitated, but never duplicated.
Automotive journalists like us often wax poetic about the 3 Series, but there's a reason for that: It's just that good. With the updates made this year, we see no reason why the 2011 BMW 3 Series should fall from its perch. Of course, there are worthy rivals and the 3 Series certainly doesn't provide the most equipment for your buck. The 2011 Audi A4 (and the 2011 Audi S5), 2011 Cadillac CTS, Infiniti G37 and 2011 Mercedes-Benz C-Class certainly deserve test-drives. But if you just make a single trip to the BMW store, we can't say we blame you.
Trim levels & features
The 2011 BMW 3 Series is available in sedan, wagon, coupe and hardtop-convertible body styles. The base model for all styles is the rear-wheel-drive 328i, while the coupe, sedan and wagon also come in all-wheel-drive 328i xDrive guise. All but the wagon are available as the rear-drive 335i, and the sedan and coupe can be had in 335i xDrive form. The coupe and convertible are available as the sport-oriented 335is. There is also a diesel-powered sedan known as the 335d. Got all that?
Standard equipment on the 328i models includes 16-inch wheels, heated side mirrors, rain-sensing wipers, automatic headlights, foglamps, "leatherette" premium vinyl upholstery, automatic climate control and a 10-speaker sound system with CD player, HD radio and an auxiliary audio jack. The coupe comes with a sport-tuned suspension, while the convertible gets a power-retractable hardtop, an upgraded stereo and power front seats with driver memory. Both two-door 328i's get 17-inch wheels and adaptive xenon headlights.
In addition to their different engines, the 335i and 335d add 17-inch wheels, adaptive xenon headlights (sedan and wagon), a sunroof (not convertible) and power front seats with driver memory. The 335is coupe and convertible get a more powerful engine, a sport-tuned suspension, 18-inch wheels, a special body kit, sport seats and a sport steering wheel.
The Premium package adds leather upholstery (heat-reflective in the convertible), auto-dimming mirrors, Bluetooth connectivity, BMW Assist telematics and, on 328i models, a sunroof and power seats with driver memory. The Sport package (all but 335is) specifies the sport-tuned suspension for convertibles, sedans and wagons (the coupe already has this as standard) and all get larger wheels, the sport seats and steering wheel, and special "Shadowline" exterior trim. The M Sport package adds many of the 335is features.
The Cold Weather package adds heated front seats, retractable headlight washers and fold-down rear seats (though the latter are unavailable in the convertible). The Convenience package adds adaptive xenon headlights (328i), front and rear parking sensors, power rear sunshade (not convertible or wagon), keyless ignition/entry and manual side window shades (sedan and wagon).
Most of the upper trim and package add-ons are also available as à la carte options. Other items include a hard-drive-based navigation system with the iDrive controller, active cruise control, an active steering system (335i and 335is only), a heated steering wheel, paddle shifters for the optional automatic transmission, satellite radio, an iPod adapter and a Harman Kardon surround-sound audio system.
Performance & mpg
The 2011 BMW 3 Series comes standard with rear-wheel drive, but all models but the convertible, 335d and 335is can be equipped with xDrive all-wheel drive.
The 328i features a 3.0-liter inline-6 that produces 230 hp and 200 lb-ft of torque. A six-speed manual is standard and a six-speed automatic is optional. In performance testing, we clocked a 328i sedan with the manual from zero to 60 mph in 6.4 seconds, while the heavier convertible is a few tenths of a second slower. According to the EPA, fuel economy is an estimated 18 mpg city/28 mpg highway and 22 mpg combined. The wagon and/or all-wheel-drive models are a smidge worse.
The 335i features a 3.0-liter turbocharged inline-6 that produces 300 hp and 300 lb-ft of torque. It gets the same transmission choices as the 328i. Although this engine is new, its power numbers are the same as before, so we doubt its 0-60 times would be much different than the approximate 5-plus-second times we recorded in the past. Fuel economy is now actually slightly better than the less powerful 328i, at 19 mpg city/28 mpg highway and 22 mpg combined.
The 335is features a more powerful version of the 335i's previous twin-turbocharged inline-6, and produces 320 hp and 332 lb-ft of torque. There is a temporary overboost function, however, which bumps 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. The 335is should be even quicker than the 335i. BMW's estimated fuel economy is 18/26/21 with the manual and 17/24/19 with DCT.
The 335d has a 3.0-liter twin-turbocharged diesel inline-6 that produces 265 hp and a massive 425 lb-ft of torque. A six-speed automatic is standard. In performance testing, we clocked the 335d from zero to 60 mph in 5.9 seconds. Its EPA-estimated fuel economy is 23/36/27.
Standard safety equipment on the 2011 BMW 3 Series includes antilock disc brakes, stability control, 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 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 telematics are optional.
In government crash tests, the sedan and wagon received four out of five stars for frontal collision protection and five stars for side protection. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the 3 Series the top rating of "Good" in its frontal-offset crash test. The 3 Series also scored a "Good" for side crash protection except for the convertible, which received the second-lowest "Marginal" score.
Driving is what the 2011 BMW 3 Series does best. The 328i's naturally aspirated inline-6 is otherworldly in its smoothness from idle to redline, and it has enough power to suit most tastes. Those in search of something more will be well served by the 335i, which maintains the 328i's refinement while adding a huge wallop of turbo torque that's always on tap. This year's new 335is doesn't feel much different from the regular 335i until you floor the throttle, at which point the overboost function provides a noticeable uptick in acceleration. For maximum mpg, the 335d is the car to get, and it serves up face-flattening torque off the line, too.
The 3 Series' sublime suspension, steering and brakes will provide endless, easily accessible entertainment. Sport package-equipped models can even keep pace with many genuine sports cars. At the same time, the 3 Series is a wonderful long-distance cruiser, boasting both a supple ride and a hushed cabin. The 3 Series' long-running double act is truly extraordinary: It speaks the language of driving enthusiasts, yet its upscale image and comfortable interior give it unrivaled mass appeal.
The 2011 BMW 3 Series interiors will be familiar to anyone who has spent time in a BMW product. Classic analog gauges, sensible ergonomics and a restrained overall aesthetic combine to create a pleasant driving environment, though there's less visual pizzazz here than in some rivals.
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 recently improved iDrive electronics interface that comes with the optional navigation system is intuitive and one of the best interfaces of its kind.
The rear seats are adequately roomy for adults on shorter trips, but taller passengers will complain that their heads are crammed into the roof. 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 predictably shrinks considerably when the top is lowered.
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Features & Specs
More About This Model
Here we stand at the middle of the life cycle of the current-generation BMW 3 Series — the E90/E91/E92/E93, as BMW geeks know this car in its various guises. Something is needed to fan the embers of excitement to ensure that they burn bright for three or so more years, so BMW has undertaken an improvement program, even though not much has really needed to be improved.
The physical changes to the 2011 BMW 335i Coupe and 2011 BMW 335i Convertible are practically invisible unless pointed out in a controlled environment, but since we were driving in Munich, there were plenty of people from BMW headquarters who were prepared to show them to us.
Hey, Look at This!
Really, there ain't much to holler about as far as exterior styling is concerned. The car is 1.3 inches longer, with most of that length in front, and the whole business has been embellished with the stronger-looking, newly chromed double kidneys. BMW spokespeople say that this was first and foremost to protect humans in crosswalks should one inexplicably roll up the hood of the car. Morbid stuff, but Europe is especially hard on designers in this particular area of safety, and you can see the evidence in the changes to the BMW 5 Series and 7 Series.
The big switch happens under the hood of the 2011 BMW 335i, as the twin-turbo N54 inline-6 has now been replaced by the latest N55 inline-6, which features a single twin-scroll turbocharger working in concert with direct fuel injection and BMW's throttle-less intakes. The output rating remains much the same at 302 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque. (BMW North America converts these actual ratings to "300 hp and 300 lb-ft" because they sound good; it's a marketing thing.)
Only Coupe and Convertible Get the Up-do
BMW is leaving alone the exterior of the E90 (sedan) and E91 (wagon) versions of the 3 Series, so the focus of this spiritual renewal is the E92 (coupe) and E93 (convertible). They've been made to look a little bit more like a 5 Series or 6 Series from certain angles. Note particularly the newly grown eyebrows for the headlights, the reshaped intake ducts and the wide chin spoiler. The switch is pretty handsome and does for the face of the 3 Series what two hours of Botox has done for millions of happy customers.
At the rocker sills, the skirts flare outward just slightly instead of just tucking under. Then in back you can discern (perhaps with the help of the Hubble telescope or maybe instead a BMW corporate specialist, your pick) more tapered corners on the trunk lid to help accentuate the newly incorporated LED elements in the taillights. Other than these tuchus mods, there is a new horizontal contour in the bottom-most part of the rear fascia that adds a little presence and draws more attention to the two chromed exhaust tips.
Inside the cabin, the 2011 BMW 335i gets a new multifunction steering wheel in leather, while the non-leather grippy parts are of a better grade of soft-touch plastic. (We know, we know. The bigger stuff is coming. Keep reading.) The software all-stars have uprated the iDrive functionality, too. The whole Google tie-in has been old hat since 2007, but this sub-version of iDrive now has a woman's voice that hooks into your iPhone and can read out your text messages, while later in 2010 she will also read your e-mails out loud, too. (Just be careful if you're having an affair and the sigoth is in the car with you!)
This iDrive feature set also synchronizes with your calendar to-do lists as well as any note-taking you've been doing with your phone. You can then program the software to search out and read aloud your preferred news items from your predefined sources. Now you can also use your existing iPod/iPhone cable to plug into the car, so there will be no more additional cables hanging around and not being used. Finally, if you wield Bluetooth phones with music-play features, you can choose tracks to play wirelessly on the in-car sound system, though there is not yet a browse feature in the iDrive screen to work with it.
Our devilishly handsome Detroit senior editor, Dan Pund, recently tried out the macho-er 2011 BMW 335is that has been built at the request of BMW North America. Pund liked it a bunch, but he also raised some questions. The 335is uses the biturbo N54 engine that used to come with the 335i, while this is the only civilian 3 Series in North America to be given the Getrag-built, seven-speed dual-clutch automated manual gearbox.
We tested the midlife 335i coupe and convertible with the dual-clutch Getrag rather than the ZF-built six-speed automatic manual that will be the U.S. option for this car. That's because the Europeans can have any transmission they darn well want in the 3 Series, while BMW North America wants to reserve the Getrag for more exclusive models like the 335is and M3.
But, as already written, there's more than just a different tranny to the revised 3 Series. The N55 inline-6 puts up the same power and torque numbers as the N54 twin-turbo, only now with less mechanical effort and fewer CO2 emissions. The N55 combines direct fuel injection, variable valve timing and a single BorgWarner twin-scroll turbocharger that can deliver peak boost of 10 psi.
So, yes, BMW has been scooching around various technical pieces in the 3 Series formula as if they were chess pieces in order to create a new, upper level of 3 Series cars. To our thinking, the new 335i and 335is are different enough to warrant one another's existence. (Is the $7,000 extra for the 335is warranted? Well, can't decide that one since it's up to them what buy 'em.)
A Less Raucous 335i
While the former twin-turbo 335i had a relatively big voice and the new twin-turbo 335is has a charming burliness to its exhaust note, the newly sensible 2011 335i lowers its tone a bit, but without losing performance. To hear the N55 engine's song better, you just have to search out more tunnels and highway underpasses.
Again, all numbers for horsepower and torque stay equal in the transition from N54 engine to N55, though launch control in the six-speed automatic enables this 2011 car to get to 60 mph in an estimated 5.4 seconds, BMW says. Seeing as we bettered the estimate for the former 335i by 0.4 second, we boldly expect to do so again, since 295 lb-ft of torque arrives fully at 1,200 rpm.
Fritz Steinparza, BMW's engine leader for the 3 Series, explained the subtleties of all this to us. The new twin-scroll turbo's intake passageway is split in two, organizing the exhaust pulses from three cylinders each, and the result is a turbo that responds quicker and can be tuned to produce a broader band of useful boost. The result is less turbo lag and more efficient use of the available power.
Ride, Sally, Ride
One more subtle change to be seen first in this 2011 BMW 335i is the use of Sachs dampers at all corners. The objective is a more linear cycle of compression and rebound across the low-speed bumps in town, as well as over the high-speed bumps of the highway. The system of coil spring and piston within the dampers has given way to a stack of thin washerlike discs that produce more progressive fluid flow and less vibration over everyday pavement imperfections. (GM has used this technology in the U.S. for years.) We can attest that we felt the difference and also that none of the goodness on the sporty side of the equation has been lost.
Owing to the seasonal conditions (you know, winter in Bavaria), BMW had us all on 225/45R17 91H Pirelli Sottozero winter tires, good for 130 mph. Despite their traction comprises on the dry pavement that we (naturally) found everywhere, these tires felt fine all day without excessive road noise. On display back at the garage, there was a coupe with a set of optional Bridgestone Potenza summer tires — 225/35R19 88Y front and 255/30 R19 91Y rear — on stunning anodized alloys.
No Midlife Crisis Here
Basically nothing is being fixed on the 2011 BMW 335i Coupe and 2011 BMW 335i Convertible that was so terribly wrong with the 2010 BMW 335i Coupe and convertible. You'll go farther and pollute less on a tank of fuel while moving practically as briskly as the guy who just bought the 335is.
Expect the freshened 2011 BMW 335i Coupe and Convertible to land in the U.S. and Canada just as the 335is disembarks, which should be late April. Pricing is just under $1,000 more per car over the outgoing edition, the surcharge for the convertible remaining around $8,500 above the equivalently equipped coupe.
The 3 Series represents 37 percent of BMW sales worldwide annually and competition gets heated with the Audi A5/S5, Infiniti G37 and Mercedes C-Class range, among others. Some adjustment and nuance to the lineup like this can never hurt.
Edmunds attended a manufacturer-sponsored event, to which selected members of the press were invited, to facilitate this report.
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Should I lease or buy a 2011 BMW 3 Series?
Is it better to lease or buy a car? Ask most people and they'll probably tell you that car buying is the way to go. And from a financial perspective, it's true, provided you're willing to make higher monthly payments, pay off the loan in full and keep the car for a few years. Leasing, on the other hand, can be a less expensive option on a month-to-month basis. It's also good if you're someone who likes to drive a new car every three years or so.