In October of 1991, Motor Trend magazine selected BMW’s 325i as one of the “Ten Best” automobiles of the 1992 model year. BMW had (and has) produced automobiles since 1929 and along the way also produced airplane engines (WWII) and motorcycles. The highly anticipated 325i had been totally restyled and featured a 2.5 liter, 189hp, DOHC in-line, six cylinder engine and five-speed manual transmission. The reputation of BMW had been burnished into the minds of the motoring public with the production of the 2002 during the sixties and seventies. That “New Class” compact sporting sedan featured the celebrated M10 four-cylinder engine as well as independent suspension, MacPherson struts, and front disc brakes. The 2002 was the precursor to the famed 325i that was introduced twenty years ago this month. The 1992 325i weighed a ton and a half, was 175” long, and reportedly accelerated 0 to 60mph in 8.0 seconds.
Twenty years have rolled by since the 325i introduction, and now the model most akin to that car is the 2011 BMW 328i. I recently was able to drive around in one with all-wheel drive and a 3.0 liter, 230hp, DOHC six-cylinder engine and six-speed Steptronic automatic transmission. I have never owned a BMW, but after some time behind the wheel, I see why the car has such a sterling reputation. This 2011 BMW 3 series is superior in virtually every way when compared to one sold twenty years ago. Consider that the 328i: will go an additional 2 highway miles on a gallon of gas, will go zero to sixty in two seconds less, and will top out at an additional 15mph when compared with its 1992 counterpart. And the price has gone from a base of $28,000.00 to a current $36,600.00, a REDUCTION when inflation is factored in.
The Tasman green four-door sedan I had the pleasure of driving had saddle brown Dakota leather upholstery, 3-way heated front seats, tilt-telescope steering column, and all the power accessories including moonroof. The trunk is a rather large 14 cubic feet, and the wheels were 17”, ten-spoke alloys. Other amenities too numerous to mention were present in this “Ultimate Driving Machine”, and the MSRP, as equipped, was $42,550.00.
When behind the wheel of a BMW, you expect (and receive) a taut, supple ride, lots of acceleration, and crisp cornering capabilities. The car met my expectations on this day, and I also enjoyed the firm, well-bolstered bucket seats and sensible instrument panel. Rear seating is, might I say, limited, but the car is manufactured with the people up front in mind. And up there the driver enjoys the aforementioned 0 to 60mph acceleration of 6 seconds and BMW’s Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) for braking. That system includes stopping functions for deceleration, wet weather, incline, and heat control. Bottom line; the BMW provides the GO! and the WHOA!.
For twenty years BMW has avoided any bankruptcies, bailouts, or boondoggles. Just steady progress that followed that 1992 Motor Trend Top Ten selection and proceeding to today’s sleek, technically advanced, fifth generation 328i. Car & Driver magazine agreed with that 1992 selection, and tacked on 19 more in succession to include the car that I drove last month. I’ll second that (those) notion(s).