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Old 01-17-2013, 07:55 PM
boltjaM3s boltjaM3s is offline
Location: USA
Join Date: Nov 2009
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Originally Posted by woodswatchco View Post
I just don't get the 320i. I think it just cheapens the 3 series line. The A4 has 211hp and 258 lb ft of torque, standard leather, 10 speaker stereo, sunroof. It starts at $32,500. The 328i and 335i make sense because they are rear wheel drive and have more horsepower than the competition. People will be driving their $55k loaded 335i around and have to explain to people that they have "the good one" instead of the 320i that looks just like it. The 328i is a very nice small step down. We don't need a third step down.
It's something BMW simply needed to do. When the E90 came out, Mercedes Benz wasn't serious about the C Class. It literally looked and drove like a car for librarians, a wife car, just a bland baby Benz. Flash forward to today and MB woke the hell up, woke up bigtime, and the C Class is a legitimate threat. Whether the CLA started it or the 320i started it, both the big boys in this segment want that $30,000/$299 customer and they're going to duke it out.

It also explains a few things, maybe answers how BMW is trying to differentiate the expensive 3's from the new 3:

1. "The Lines" - This makes sense now, the reason why there are so many demonstrative visual cues that make the more expensive models look different. Knowing that they were going to come out with a 320i at $299, those with Luxury/Sport/Modern cars have a decent amount of chrome and wheel variances to denote a 'well-optioned' car from a stripper. Also explains the fender badges that are in other countries but not the US.

2. The Softer Suspension - The lower the prices, the fewer the enthusiasts, the more the 'common folk' and they don't like particularly harsh rides where you can feel every road imperfection and your back snaps over every pothole. By softening the standard suspension it allowed the 320i to feel more comfortable for the average driver.

3. The Steering - It's a lot easier, a lot more effortless.

4. The Experience Modes - Use technology to differentiate the rides, make the car more specific yet appeal to a broader audience simultaneously.

5. The 4 Cylinder Engine - One can make the argument that the 320i begot the 328i and not the other way around. That BMW knew it was going to have a low HP engine for the $30,000 car and decided to beef it up and release it first in the $40,000 car, then let it loose in its natural, less-powerful form in the second year. Perhaps the 320i is why we lost the NA 6, not for more earth-friendly reasons.

I'm sure there are others. Point is, the 335i and 328i were conceived in concert with the 320i for release in America, the relationships and differences come into greater clarity when you look under the hood a bit.

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