Why the 2013 BMW 320i Matters:
While the democratization of technology causes the price of mainstream cars rise, it appears that Germany’s heavy hitters are intent on reaching downmarket to grab aspirational Gen Yers looking for cheap lease deals. Witness the new 2013 BMW 320i, which shaves $4,300 off the opening bid for a BMW 328i and comes in at just $33,445 including the destination charge.
Why is the 320i necessary? Cadillac is winning awards for its new 2013 ATS, which starts at $33,095, and which is widely touted as BMW’s closest dynamic rival in the entry-luxury class. For 2014, the low-$$$, prestige-brand class grows with the additions of the new sedan version of the Audi A3, the redesigned Lexus IS 250, and the new Mercedes-Benz CLA250, which join the Acura TSX and the Volvo S60 as attractively priced luxury cars.
Clearly, BMW doesn’t want to miss out on any of the fun.
What’s New for the 2013 BMW 320i:
- Price drop of $4,300
- New 180-horsepower, turbocharged engine
- Standard Automatic Stop/Start technology
- Optional xDrive all-wheel-drive system
- Accelerates to 60 mph in 7.1 seconds
- Same fuel economy numbers as 328i
- Less standard equipment than a 328i
- Offered with fewer options than a 328i
- On sale before the summer of 2013
New 2013 BMW 320i: Styling and Design
The new BMW 320i looks just like a 328i on the outside, right down to its standard 17-inch aluminum wheels. The difference is that the 328i can be specified in Luxury, Modern, Sport, and M Sport trim lines, whereas the new 320i cannot. Each of these trim lines supplies the 328i with design enhancements and wheel selections that are simply unavailable for the 320i.
Interiors look the same, too. However, the 328i is offered with a number of leather color selections that cannot be added to a 320i, which is available only with Venetian Beige or Black leatherette or leather, combined with standard Silver Matte trim or optional Burl Walnut wood.
New 2013 BMW 320i: What’s Under the Hood
The 2013 BMW 320i is equipped with a turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine, just like the 328i. The difference is that the 320i’s engine is tuned to deliver 180 horsepower at 5,000 rpm (60 ponies less than the 328i) and 200 lb.-ft. of torque from 1,250 to 4,500 rpm (55 fewer lb.-ft. than the 328i).
Power is delivered to the 320i’s rear wheels through an 8-speed automatic transmission. A 6-speed manual gearbox is offered as an option, but doesn’t reduce the price of the car. An xDrive all-wheel-drive system adds $2,000 to the price of the 320i.
BMW says the 320i with rear-wheel drive accelerates to 60 mph in 7.1 seconds, regardless of transmission selection. By comparison, a 328i gets to 60 mph in a minimum of 5.8 seconds. The 328i’s extra oomph doesn’t affect fuel economy. In fact, with a manual gearbox, the 328i is slightly more fuel-efficient in the city. With the automatic transmission, the two cars offer identical fuel economy estimates: 23 mpg in the city and 33 mpg on the highway.
Automatic Stop/Start is included with both of the 320i model’s transmissions, and is designed to shut the engine off when the car is idling in traffic or at an intersection. The new 320i also offers a standard Driving Dynamics Control switch with Comfort, Sport, and Eco Pro driving modes, and a Sport Package is available for both the 320i and 320i xDrive.
When added to the 320i, the Sport Package includes 18-inch aluminum wheels with summer performance tires, an increased top speed, front sport seats, a sport suspension, an M steering wheel, and an Anthracite headliner. (The Sport Package for the 320i xDrive swaps out the performance rubber for all-season treads, and doesn’t include the sport suspension.)
New 2013 BMW 320i: Features and Technology
So what additional compromises does the new 2013 BMW 320i require in exchange for its price drop? It loses the 328i’s standard power front seats, split-folding rear seat, auto-dimming side and rearview mirrors, universal garage door opener, and interior storage package (these items are a part of the optional Premium Package for $3,200).
Five option packages are available for the BMW 320i: Premium, Sport, Lighting, Cold Weather, and Driver Assistance. Individual options include leather seats, Burl Walnut wood trim, a power sunroof, heated front seats, a split-folding rear seat, a navigation system, BMW Apps technology, BMW Assist with enhanced Bluetooth, and an anti-theft alarm system. Load a 320i up with all the extras, and the price balloons to $46,520.
Items missing from the BMW 320i model’s option list include a premium sound system, rear manual side window sunshades, and several safety systems offered for the 328i including Active Blind Spot Detection, Lane Departure Warning, Forward Collision Warning, Side and Top View Cameras, Active Cruise Control, Parking Assistant, and automatic high-beam headlights.
BMW does include a long list of standard safety equipment for the new 320i model. Anti-lock brakes with Dynamic Brake Control, Cornering Brake Control, and brake drying are included in the base price, along with traction control, stability control, and a Start-off Assistant system. As a part of the onboard BMW ConnectedDrive technology, Automatic Collision Notification is offered for the 320i. This feature activates if the airbags deploy, connecting the car’s occupants to an emergency operator who can speed rescuers to the 320i’s exact location.
New 2013 BMW 320i: What Autobytel Thinks
The arrival of the 2013 BMW 320i means that driving enthusiasts focused on how rapidly a car gets around curves instead of how quickly it accelerates in a straight line can easily purchase a back-to-basics 3 Series with a Sport Package and a few extras for less than $40,000. That, fellow members of the I Love To Drive Club, is excellent news.