It’s quite simple really: The BMW 3 Series is faultless. In fact, that was my final conclusion of last year’s review. I know, there’s no such thing (although the 2014 Mercedes-Benz E 63 S-AMG 4MATIC wagon pretty much proved the opposite), plus the 3 Series has been bashed by countless auto critics around the globe (including me at one point), but the bottom line is: this is a great car.
It looks the part, feels the part, drives the part; and doggone it, I want one! Yeah, the 2013 3 Series is bigger, heavier and not as “dynamic” or involving as previous generation 3 Series cars were, but take one for a drive and you’ll get it. I don’t care if you select a $35,900 320i or a fully decked-out $59,200 335i xDrive Sport like my tester, you’ll be smitten.
Better: You’ll feel good, you’ll want to hold the steering wheel with a firm grip, cuddle or mash the throttle, and never want to remove your buns from the car’s most excellent seats. The drive, the feedback, sense of quality and purpose will all have you returning for more. Yet, it’s not as “good” as it used to be... Kinda makes me want to go back in time.
The BMW out
It took me a while to get this one off the ground because, as stated, I reviewed a near identical example last summer. The principal differences between vehicles lay in the number of drive wheels, and the transmission -- more on this shortly.
Aesthetically speaking, the cars were duplicates save for the wheels. My tester was shod with Pirelli winter tires on lesser-sized wheels. Otherwise, all sharp and distinctive features that make the 2013 BMW 3 Series such an object of desire remain between the two.
Of particular interest is the entirety of the BMW 3 Series’ front end. The kidney grilles, flanked by the angel-eye adorned headlights and wide, snarky determined grin make the owner swell with pride at the very sight of the car. Yes, you own a 2013 BMW 3 Series. The rest of the car follows suit.
The BMW in
The cabin is equally sharp and total BMW fare. From a purely functional point of view, some of the smallish buttons can be difficult to decipher, but the learning curve is small. As the driver/owner, the desire to master the car is all-consuming.
Fit and finish are BMW-spec, as are the material’s presentation. With increasing exterior dimensions, occupant quarters have grown equally. The benefits to overall comfort are quite welcome.
Driving the evolution
Gaining serious ground in a BMW is always as simple as caressing the throttle pedal up against the firewall, regardless of powertrain. The 335i is the third most gifted 3 Series behind the 335iS and, of course, the M3.
The 2013 BMW 335i xDrive sports BMW’s most excellent twin-power single-turbo 3.0L inline 6-cylinder engine. This mouthful of specs produces 300 hp and equal amounts of torque. Mated to my tester is an 8-speed automatic transmission. With this getup, the 3 Series will stomp on 100 km/h in only 5.1 seconds.
The BMW xDrive AWD system’s modus operandi is a constant 40/60 front/rear torque split, thus ensuring the car stays as true as possible to its RWD driving roots, while ensuring optimal traction.
All of these components are intimately connected to the Sports/ECO PRO mode control located near the shifter. ECO will do its best to keep things cool and green, while Sport will get your heart rate up. Normal mode is the ideal setup for cruising, but Sport is the one for me.
Never too harsh, never too soft; the 2013 BMW 335i xDrive defines what all cars should ride like today. Capable of impressive handling feats all the while cosseting occupants, the 3 Series is a prize. Although heavier past models, its comparably lightweight chassis endows the car with superb agility often emulated in the segment but never duplicated.
Equally rewarding are the car’s powerful brakes and variable sports steering. Perhaps the best way to describe the drive of the car is as a reward. Rough day at work? The commute will make it all better.
This review pretty much says it all: On top of still being at the pinnacle of driving enjoyment, the 2013 BMW 3 Series offers all forms of adaptive and passive safety features including one of my favourites; Head-Up Display.
The car is up against some very stiff competition namely from the very hot Cadillac ATS, Audi A4 and newly revamped Lexus IS and Infiniti Q50. If I were a BMW dealership, I’d not worry too much.