I peaked in the boss’s office this morning (yeah, I have a real job too) and uttered, “How’s the Bimmer?” He had dropped it off yesterday because of some error codes being thrown and was curious to hear if the dealership had diagnosed the problem. “It’s at the dealer. But hey, I got this sweet loaner car. You should drive it.”, and tosses me the key.
Damn right, I should. BMW’s are no stranger to me. I’ve owned quite a few and if interested you can see them all on my WheelWell.com account. And now I’m wondering what this loaner could be.
At noon we decide to order pizza for lunch. No need for delivery today – we’re picking it up ourselves. Walking out to the parking garage I’m wondering what exactly it could be. Loaner cars usually aren’t cream of the crop so I was expecting something like a base 320i. What I saw brought a huge smile. Today I’m making a 2015 BMW 328i Sport Wagon review.
This 328i Sport Wagon had the M Sport appearance package, Technology package, Cold Weather package and probably every other check box that could have been ticked, including the 8-speed ZF automatic transmission.
With the Technology package, the key fob can remain in your pocket the entire time. You never have to pull it out (giggity) to unlock the doors or start the car. This is nothing new, but I never owned a vehicle with this level of technology so it was quite awesome to experience.
falling in to the car I immediately noticed how low the driver’s seat was positioned. I’m nearly 6 foot tall and I could stretch my entire legs out nearly horizontal. This was totally contrary to my WRX which feels like a Captain’s chair on a yacht. I really liked how low the seats were able to go and the telescopic steering wheel gave plenty of adjustment to achieve the perfect seating position for an HPDE Champion.
Then I felt something a bit peculiar. The steering wheel wasn’t quite right. It was soft like leather, but it didn’t feel quite like leather. This must be Sensatec! Sensatec is essentially BMW’s name for vinyl. They used to call it Leatherette. Now it’s Sensatec. Sensatec is supposed to have better wear properties than leather, is supposed to be easier to to clean and for you PETA members, is animal-free. Most people would instantly assume this was leather and never think differently. The Sensatec was nice though it makes me think that if I’m spending nearly $55k for a car, I’m probably gonna go ahead and tick the box for the $1,500 leather option.
Being that this is a keyless system, I press the round Start button to the right of the steering column. The 2.0 turbo engine
roars comes to life with a light rumble and resonance similar to the naturally aspirated inline six of yesteryear. The windows were up and we were in a parking garage but it sounded pretty good from inside the cabin. Now to head up to the top deck for some quick photos… if only I could figure out how to get this thing in to Reverse. This 8-speed automatic has a shifter with buttons and illuminated lights that look something out of a NASA project. Operating is way simple but could quickly intimidate.
I found a clearing on the top deck of the parking lot to position the 328i Sport Wagon for photos. Unfortunately I didn’t have my DSLR on me so I had to make due with my iPhone 6 replacement, the LG G3. Capturing the beauty of BMW’s Estoril Blue would surely be a task. This, I was pleasantly surprised.
This 328i Sport Wagon had the M Sport appearance package which replaces includes the aggressive front bumper, side skirts and rear bumper covers. It really adds that missing something to the exterior styling of the 3 Series. This wagon looks so good and there are so many details you really have to spend some time to take it all in.
The side view mirrors are two tone and have integrated turn signals along with lane departure warning lights to let you know when it is safe or unsafe to make a move. The housing contours the body shape of the car like only an artist could design. The headlights are as intricate as anything else on the road. There are sharp silver and chrome lines running horizontally that give the illusion of both depth additional front width.
The way the belt line flows down the car and just above the tail lights reminds me of the BMW M Coupe. The Z3 variant also known as the “clown shoe”. The rear hatch opens with a push of a button and reveals the expected levels of storage that comes in wagon territory.
Oh, yeah, the pizza…
Driving the 328i Sport Wagon is just like driving a “regular” 328i sedan. My boss had no idea this was a four cylinder until I told him. The 2.0 liter turbo engine was surprisingly torquey with not so much as a hint of turbo lag. The ZF transmission does a great job of keeping this engine in the sweet spot for city driving.
A quick on-ramp sprint to a hun-uhm-uhm MPH took just seconds. BMW claims the 328i’s 2.0 turbo engine produces 240 horsepower and 255 pounds feet of torque. It isn’t slow, that’s for sure, and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if this wagon ran even with my WRX.
BMW’s along with Porsches have always been known for great feedback through the steering wheel. Electronic steering has been a discussed topic as of late since both manufacturers have moved away from hydraulic units. This 328i Sport Wagon has the Dynamic Handling package that adds adjustable steering but even in full sport mode it falls short in the feel and feedback department compared to the electronic steering in my 2015 WRX and that’s a far cry from my E46 M3.
But this isn’t a race car. It’s a sporty people moving wagon with fantastic looks that’s loaded with creature comforts and technology. One of my favorite options on this car is the navigation and parking assist.
When we arrive at the pizza shop I wanted to back in to a parking spot like I normally do. I stopped and moved the transmission selector in to reverse. As expected, the navigation screen switched to an overhead view of the car with what appeared to be my surroundings.
THEY WERE MY SURROUNDINGS! HOLY SHIT! Beeping sensors are fine. A rear view camera is nice. But this… THIS is crazy cool!
I tested the back up cameras again when we got back to the office parking garage and I found that while I was able to back in to a spot without ever twisting my neck, you still need to use your mirrors to get a true sense of your surroundings. I found that I either parked too close to the car next to me or too close to a garage column twice. Being able to see the ground on the display would be nice to have when I’m parallel parking on the street.
And my time behind the wheel of this 328i Sport Wagon was over. It left me with the desire to one day own another BMW. With exception of steering feel, everything was a notch or two better than my new Subaru WRX. With a manual transmission, one might make the argument that the 3-Series is equally fun, more economic and every bit as capable. But this isn’t a comparison of $30k cars. This loaner BMW 328i Sport Wagon as equipped would run nearly $60,000. And it feels every bit of it.
2015 BMW 328i Sport Wagon
M Sport Line
Cold Weather Package
Dynamic Handling Package
Driver Assistance Package
Driver Assistance Plus Package