Entry-level luxury is all the rage right now, and BMW is jumping on the bandwagon with its announcement at the January 2013 North American International Auto Show in Detroit that it will bring its 320i sedan to the U.S. in late spring 2013.
Already in Europe and other markets, the BMW 320i sedan uses a less powerful version of the 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine found in the 328i. The BMW 320i makes a modest 180 horsepower and 200 pound-feet of torque, far less than the 328i's 240 hp and 255 lb.-ft.
Transmission choices include a 6-speed manual or an 8-speed automatic. Only rear-wheel-drive is offered with the manual, while cars equipped with the automatic transmission are available with BMWs xDrive all-wheel-drive system.
The result is a rather pokey 0-60 mph time of 7.1 seconds with either transmission. Speed of the 320i sedan is electronically limited at 130 mph.
Fuel-saving technology found on other 3 Series models also appear on the 320i sedan, including auto start-stop, brake energy regeneration, and an ECO PRO drive mode that helps to optimize efficiency. Whether the 320i delivers better fuel economy than that of the 328i we have not yet been able to confirm.
Cars equipped with the 6-speed manual transmission are expected to get 22 mpg city and 34 mpg highway, while the automatic is expected to yield 23 mpg city and 33 mpg highway. The 320i xDrive model is expected to achieve 22 mpg city and 33 mpg highway. That's about the same as the figures for the 328i.
So if it's slower and equally efficient, what's the draw? Price. The 320i sedan starts at $32,550 (not including $895 destination and handling fee), which is $4,000 less than the 328i sedan. But prices can add up with a variety of options, most of which are found in other 3 Series models, including a Sport Package, Cold Weather Package, Premium Package, Driver Assistance Package, and additional lighting.
The 2014 BMW 320i sedan is expected to arrive at dealerships in late spring 2013.