Driving a BMW 3 Series on a freeway or in gridlocked traffic misses the point of the car. On a freeway or in traffic, a BMW 3 Series is out of its element, amounting to a rather loud, small, sparsely outfitted automobile. But on a twisty road, a BMW 3 Series becomes an extension of the driver’s nervous system, a finely crafted tool designed to maximize the joy of driving. That’s why, during a one-day road test of the redesigned 2006 BMW 3 Series, we stuck to the twisty two-lane ribbons of asphalt draped atop the hills and lining the valleys of western Pennsylvania, and the sinuous road course at BeaveRun Motorsports Complex in the town of Wampum.
Replacing an icon as successful as the fourth-generation 3 Series, especially at a time when BMW’s now-established design vocabulary has been met with jeers and jabs from the press and consumers alike, could induce heartburn in the heartiest German auto executive. Not to worry. With this new 2006 3 Series, BMW has successfully built upon the strengths of the previous model while resolving some of the few complaints that we had about the outgoing car.