But there were instances when the added technology overreached. The 3 Series incorporates BMW’s “Automatic Stop/Start” feature, which shuts down the engine when you stop, like at a traffic light, then restarts it automatically the instant you release brake pressure. It’s a technique borrowed from hybrid-drive cars, which use it to save gas. But hybrid cars usually have lower-powered engines that shut down and start up smoothly. The well-powered motor in my 328i caused the car to shudder whenever it stopped and restarted. The effect was very noticeable and eventually quite annoying.
There’s a good chance that BMW will refine the approach and eventually get it right. The company is very good that way. In fact, the iDrive cabin-control system I just praised was once roundly mocked as too tough to operate. BMW stuck with the idea, simplifying and refining it until iDrive became a model all-in-one control system.
Of course, BMW has a strong incentive to stick with unique and clever add-on systems that make its vehicles stand out. Commonplace, ordinary consumer cars continue to advance as well. Luxury manufacturers, BMW included, need to stay ahead of them.
Jeffrey Zygmont is an author of fiction and non-fiction books, and a long-time auto writer. Contact him at www.jeffreyzygmont.com.
2013 BMW 3 Series Sedan :Vehicle type: 4-door, 5-passenger, rear- and all-wheel-drive, compact sedan sedan Price range: $33,445 to $46,045 (plus options) Warranty: 4 years/50,000 miles basic warranty; 12 years/unlimited miles corrosion warranty; 4 years/unlimited miles roadside assistance; 4 years/50,000 miles free maintenance program Base engine: 2.0-liter turbocharged I4 Power: 180 horsepower at 5,000 rpm; 200 lb.-ft. torque at 1,200 rpm Transmission: 8-speed automatic Fuel economy: 23 mpg city; 36 mpg highway Wheelbase: 111 inches Length: 183 inches Width: 71 inches Height: 56 inches Weight: 3,295 pounds Fuel capacity: 15.8 gallons Turning circle: 37.1 feet