If you were hoping for the launch of the all-new M3/M4 at the 2013 New York International Auto Show, you must have been disappointed.
That's because BMW did what everyone else was doing — showing off its latest consumer-focused hardware.
And that's fine. New York is a customer-facing show that's not about showing the couture designs of the business. It's about selling cars that a high volume of people actually want. Driving that home was the official debut of the 328d, a four-cylinder diesel powerplant that's expected to have a base price less than $40,000*.
While BMW invited us up to its northern New Jersey headquarters to drive the 1-Series, three-cylinder motor prototypes around its north american campus, they also gave us a crack at the new 328d. The Bavarians mapped out a course that consisted of some local area roads that I am familiar with — I've lived nearby BMWNA HQ for some time.
Wheel time was brief, give or take 15 minutes at best.
What differentiates the 3-Series diesel apart from its gasoline-powered bredren? Not that much, frankly. Eagle-eyed observers will note that instead of two exhaust pipes exiting out from the rear valence, it is a single pipe. Not exactly earth-shattering stuff here.
Behind the wheel, all appears normal as well. Aside from the modified gauge cluster's tachometer that reflects a lower RPM for the diesel powerplant, that's really it from what I could tell after a brief once over and 15 minutes of driving.
So, what's the 328d really like? Upon powering up the 2.0-liter four-cylinder diesel motor, you'll note that it's an exceptionally quiet oil burner. At idle there's an extremely faint chatter but you really have to listen for it. It's definitely not your grandparent's diesel — cliche, but oh so true.
Taking off from a stop you'll note that low RPMs and parking lot speeds the 328d does have a little bit of that tractor-like sound quality. But here's the thing. While in last-gen diesel vehicles it was really in your face and notable, in this car it's present but not nearly as loud. Not even close. BMW must have put a lot of effort into this motor's noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) development work because while I could hear the engine's chatter, you really have to pay attention. Once you get onto the main roads and bring the revs above the 2,000 - 2,500 mark the diesel-like quality leaves and blam-o it sounds like a 328i.
Though I didn't get the chance to take the d on the highway, I did motor along some country-like roads where power was ample. The four-cylinder diesel puts out 180 horsepower and 280 lb.-ft. of torque, which is nearly as much torque as the E92 M3 that was rated at 295 lb.-ft.
After the brief drive concluded, to me it was readily apparent what the new 328d is about. To me this was easily one of the more advanced diesels I have driven. In fact, I would wager that because the NVH is so in check that a good chunk of buyers would not notice they're behind the wheel of a diesel if you did a test and covered the tach.
While EPA numbers are not official, BMW is saying that it is expecting the 328d to achieve 32/45, city/highway.
Aside from the better MPG, premium price on diesel fuel, one less exhaust tip, a lower rev limit and a bit of chatter at low RPMs, the 328d is basically the gasoline 3'er.
- It's same 'ol BMW 3-Series you've known, just with a diesel powerplant
- You won't know it's a diesel unless you really sit up and take notice
- 45 mpg highway is a commuter's dream
The Bad:- It's the same 'ol BMW 3-Series you've known, just with a diesel powerplant
- Likely will be priced with a premium over the standard 328i
- Diesel fuel pricing premium
- The reality of the 328d is an unfortunate one. As diesel engine equipped vehicles tend to be priced a couple of thousand dollars over their gasoline counterparts — in addition to the fact diesel fuel is ALSO priced at a premium over gasoline — it will take years to simply break even. Why bother when you can have a 328i?
*Pricing and detailed specifications will be announced closer to the 328d's launch this fall.
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2013 New York Auto Show Photo Gallery