Quick Spin: 2014 BMW 328d xDrive Giving Enthusiasts the D

2014 bmw 328d diesel Sometime ago a lifestyle website called Jalopnik proclaimed that the entry-level rear-wheel-drive BMW 320i with a manual transmission and a sport package is something-something official sport sedan, yaddy, yadda. To quote:

That’s a sporty, RWD sedan with 50/50 weight distribution, a manual transmission, 36 mpg on the highway, and a turbocharged engine. Is there anything new that beats that?

Well, as a matter of fact, as mentioned in this Podcast, yes there is. It is called the 328d. Allow me to explain. The problem with BMW’s 320i and 328i is the four-cylinder turbo engine. That engine, like many others recently downsized and force-fed offerings from many manufactures, seems great in theory but is not so great in daily driving. Those engines lack in low-end power and have a good amount of turbo lag. These engines are great when pushed hard; it’s what makes them fun in a Miata or hot-hatch sort of way, especially when coupled to a slick manual transmission. Unfortunately we don’t push our cars hard while driving from Starbucks to the Vet’s office, and that’s where lag delay is most noticeable, and it can be frustrating. Same goes for highway passing power, it’s there but it needs to be exhumed. 2014 bmw 328d diesel front 34 Enter the 328d. The first issue is that it only comes with an 8-speed automatic transmission. It really isn’t a problem, just push the “sport” button and you really won’t miss the stick. There really are no performance losses or fuel economy improvements between modern manual and automatic transmissions, if anything both factors shift (ha!) to automatic’s favor. The only thing one would really miss is the archaic act of shifting gears manually. The second issue is that, unlike BMW’s previous 6-cylinder diesel, this four-pot does suffer from some turbo-lag. The lag is evident only off the line and is significantly lower than any of the 320i/328i gasoline cars. But, once rolling, at any speed, stomping the gas pedal will result in an ass kick that the gasoline engines can’t even dream of. Torque, it’s like crack for carguys, only more addictive. This little bimmer has 280lb-ft of it whereas the 320i and 328i have 184 and 255 – it feels like more than this number would suggest. While neither of those numbers is particularly high, this diesel engine feels great, and I would choose it over any other four-cylinder BMW. It is simply more powerful and lot more efficient. Choosing it to the three-liter inline six would take more convincing, however, as that engine is a beast and is available with a manual transmission, fuel economy be damned. 2014 bmw 328d diesel dash EPA rates the automatic 328d xDrive at 31mpg city and 43mpg highway. Comparing apples-to-apples, 320i xDrive automatic gets 23mpg in the city and 35mpg on the highway. 328i xDrive automatic gets 22mpg city and 33mpg on the highway. When equipped (if available) with a manual transmission both numbers drop around 1mpg. Choosing your BMW in the rear-wheel-drive trim will gain you that gallon back. Logic would dictate that the gasoline RWD 320i automatic would get the best gas mileage, and it does, 24 city and 36 highway. So, the 328d is more fun (according to me, and I know fun!), has more torque, and gets better mileage than the Jalopy Special. But the one big advantage of their car was its price – $34,975. The 328d starts at $39,525. Add the proper M Sport line (a line! Not some cheapo “package”) and you come to $43,025. The car pictured here is an AWD xDrive M Sport model (top tip, get RWD + good snow tires), painted in Estoril Blue, with an $1000 Dynamic Handling Package which brought the total price to $47,075. Ouch. 2014 bmw 328d diesel interior details Yea, so the d costs more. I actually didn’t realize how much when I started writing this review. It costs a lot more. And both models, the Jalop 320i and the pictured 328d, are fairly equally optioned otherwise, which is to say stripped. Yea… the $10,000 difference is very significant. In fact, the 335i M Sport with the same options costs $47,425, just $350 more than the 328d. That brings this review to a very important conclusion:

  • If you want the bang-for-the-buck 3-series, get the 320i with manual transmission and sport package.
  • If you want the same car but are willing to pay a lot more for grin-educing torque and significantly better gas mileage, get the 328d.
  • If you want the best 3-series money can buy, get the 335i with M Sport package with a manual transmission.

Honestly, you can’t go wrong on either. I think that the F30 3-series are significantly improved over the previous E90s. Despite growing bigger, the F30s are still fun to drive and as functional as ever. 2014 bmw 328d diesel rear 34 Few notes about this car:

  • It was the least optioned BMW I have ever seen and I owned an E36 318iS.
  • Surprisingly, I did not miss the navigation, Sirius, sunroof, or heated seats. Their absence actually made me focus more on driving, once my iPhone was streaming music via Bluetooth.
  • I did miss the leather seats on a long drive as my back did get sweaty on this fancy vinyl. There should be a cloth option as on E46 M3.
  • The seats and the sport steering wheel that come with the M-Sport trim as fantastic.
  • The diesel engine was quiet at idle but a little buzzy on the highway. Not bad, just different than the gasoline.
  • Make sure to put the transmission into sport mode as soon you start the engine.
  • The car in these pictures is dirty because the night before I got caught in a surprising snow storm on my way to the New York International Auto Show. In the middle of April! Sorry about that.
  • During my spirited night drive to and from NYC I averaged about 36mpg. Keeping the transmission in sport mode seems to lock out the top gear. I didn’t have the patience to try to hyper-mile this thing, that wouldn’t be fun.


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