- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 2, 2005

The 3-series is a status symbol of how you like to drive.

BMW can thank the success of the 3-series on a long history of performance-orientated vehicles that came before this popular sedan. It started in the late 1960s when the BMW 2002 became what many describe as a family car that thought it was a sports car. This vehicle gave a new meaning to the term “sports car,” for now you could have room for more than one passenger and a place to store luggage.

And, this car was a whole lot of fun to drive.

The 3-series may be best known as the entry-level BMW, but it carries on the tradition of sporty sedans with excellent performance. The most recent version comprises all-new major components that give this 3-series better handling, acceleration and comfort.

In speaking with BMW North America chief, Tom Purves, I learned the philosophy that goes into producing BMW vehicles is more than just about power.

As popular and successful as BMW is, Mr. Purves said “We should not become complacent with our success.”

That philosophy shows through every vehicle they build, because each version is an improvement over the one it replaces. Mr. Purves shared another point, “It is better to put your money back into the product than in marketing.”

While BMW spends plenty on marketing their product, after all these days a company must, they find product development is much more important. And building BMWs to perform the way BMW vehicles must is a much better way of marketing their product.

The 3-series is wider, longer and taller, supplying more interior room as well as adding comfort for all occupants. Along with this increase in dimensions, the body structure is much more rigid. These improvements to body construction allow the suspension to be tuned to supply a wider range of abilities. From making the ride more comfortable, to increasing handling, the 3-series offers a grander driving experience.

Today, the addition of electronic computer-controlled components has given this 3-series extraordinary handling characteristics.

Stability control combined with traction control give this 3-series the ability to assist a driver to keep the car under control even if he has gotten himself into a near uncontrollable situation.

Basically, if you err, this system just might save your bacon and keep you on the road. Of course, nothing can overcome physics, so if you exceed the bounds of science, you will get yourself in trouble.

Two models come with two very capable engines that give you a choice of performance and, of course, offers a range of pricing. So, you can find a 3-series to fit your needs.

We begin with the 325 outfitted with a four-cylinder engine producing 215 horsepower and 185 foot-pounds of torque. Equipped with a standard six-speed manual transmission, this car gives you more than the basics of what has made the 3-series such a success over the years. If you want to pump up the volume in performance, look toward the 330, which is equipped with a wonderful six-cylinder engine that produces 255 horsepower and 220 foot-pounds of torque. These performance numbers elevate the capabilities of this sedan manyfold. I have been a fan of the original 3.0-liter engine and this version just elevates my admiration in this power plant.

Whether you choose the entry level 325i, or go for the gusto in the 330i, you will have a sedan that offers more of everything you would expect in a 3-series. The 3-series is no longer a status symbol of your financial level. This BMW is a status symbol of how you feel about your driving experience. Now go out and drive.


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