The 3-Series is available as a coupe, a retractable hardtop convertible, a sedan and a wagon. xDrive all-wheel drive is available on all body types except the convertible. All vehicles have a marvelously balanced chassis and outstanding road feel. Easily adjusted and very supportive seats are the norm, as is one of the nicest steering wheels found in a modern automobile. A stiff suspension means the 3-Series is at its best when carving corners.
The fourth generation of the legendary M3 carries on in 2010. Coupe, sedan, and convertible versions are available, all powered by a high-revving 4.0L V8 engine. The lightweight powerplant generates 414 horsepower and spins up to 8,400 rpm. With a lightweight carbon fiber roof, an aluminum suspension, Mdrive to allow driver configuration of the engine control, high-performance compound brakes and a regenerative braking system that powers the electronics, the M3 delivers supercar performance in a practical package.
Standard equipment on the 3-Series is generous, with stability and traction controls, xenon adaptive headlights, power heated mirrors, a tire pressure monitor, dynamic cruise control, automatic tri-zone climate control, a 10-speaker audio system, side seat-mounted and curtain air bags and power windows and locks. The all-wheel-drive versions add retractable headlight washers. The 335i models include a memory feature for the mirrors, power seats, a LOGIC7 sound system with 13 speakers and surround sound simulation and an assortment of visual adjustments.
Differences between body styles, aside from the obvious, are minimal, except for the M3. The convertibles add memory to the mirrors and power to the seats. The sedan and wagon ride on 16-inch alloys instead of the 17-inchers found on the coupe and convertible. The wagon also has roof rails for extra cargo-toting flexibility.
Options are extensive, ranging from a rear parking assist and a DVD-based navigation system which includes BMW's iDrive control system, to run-flat performance tires and an increased top-speed limiter. Paddle shifters and a power moonroof can be added to the entry-level 328i versions.