First Drive: 2014 BMW 328i xDrive Sports Wagon
I always thought wagons were boring. A mere grocery getter. These days, I can probably count on one hand how many wagons I see in a week. Well, BMW is bringing the wagon back, with a bit of a twist. It’s the 2014 328i xDrive Sports Wagon and it doesn’t look or act like the everyday station wagon we all grew up with.
The 328i xDrive Sports Wagon will be the only wagon from BMW to reach the US shores. The base price of the wagon will be ~$42,375 with destination and handling. Our test car was optioned as an M Sport model. This $3950 option adds sporty touches to the exterior as well as the interior of the car. A couple exterior touches include an aerodynamic body kit that includes a more aggressive front bumper and a set of 18” wheels. These upgrades really enhance the Sports part of the Sports Wagon. It really looks good, especially finished in Estoril Blue as our car was. The interior receives aluminum hexagonal patterned trim, a very nice M steering wheel, and sport seats. Like the sedan, the interior is quite comfortable and the sport seats offer good support, keeping you put in corners, and enough adjustability to please almost anyone. The cockpit is arranged well, with controls at the drivers finger tips, while radio and climate controls are also easily reached by the passenger. In the rear of the car, passenger leg room has grown a bit, making the taller folks more comfortable, and luggage volume has increased by 10%.
This being a wagon, BMW didn’t just stop at adding some extra space. They’ve added a bunch of thoughtful touches to make the space more versatile. There are under floor storage compartments, a load bar that can section off an area, cargo nets, hooks and even a 12v power outlet. You also have the ability to lift the glass portion of the hatch, just in case you need some extra room, or if you need to load on top of items already loaded. BMW really thought the space through. And let’s not forget about the roof. Since the 328i Sports Wagon sits much lower than an SUV, reaching bikes, kayaks and snowsports equipment stored on available roof racks is quite easy.
The Sports Wagon handles as well as it hauls too, offering plenty of grip from the xDrive all-wheel-drive system. Our test car had the Dynamic Handling Package installed. This is a $1000 option, and it includes the Adaptive M Suspension and Variable Sport Steering. The Adaptive M Suspension not only lowers the car by 10mm, but also utilizes electronically controlled dampers to instantaneously adjust for road conditons and give the best ride possible. The result is a comfortable, smooth and well-damped ride. Steering also has a good feel, thanks to the Variable Sport Steering. Steering feel is altered by the amount of wheel input and speed. Around town it had a light feel, great for parking and tight streets, and on the back roads with a bit of speed, it offered a more firm, sporty feel.
What’s under the hood to help haul all the stuff we can carry?
The 328i Sports Wagon is powered by BMW’s award winning twin-scroll turbocharged 2.0 liter 4 cylinder. With 240 horsepower and 255 torques on tap, starting at a low 1250 rpms, this wagon was definitely no slouch, pulling strong just like the sedan. It felt normally aspirated, thanks to the twin-scroll turbo’s lag-free power. Passing on both the highway and back roads is as easy as dropping your right foot. For a 4 cylinder, it sounds quite nice when pushed. The 8-speed auto box is very competent, always selecting the proper gear for the speed. When I opted for manual shift mode, for some more spirited driving, each touch of the paddles was followed by a quick and precise gear change. Depending on your driving style, or mood, you can always alter your driving experience with the Driver Experience Control just like in the sedan. With 3 modes - Sport, Comfort and Eco Pro - you have control over the suspension, steering, engine, and transmission responses at the touch of a button. So, if you are hauling a bunch of gear on a long adventure, perhaps use the Eco-pro mode to help save on gas. It works quite well. BMW says depending on individual driving style, you can reduce fuel consumption by 20%. The 328i Sports Wagon gets a combined 26 mpg, with 33 mpg highway and 22 mpg city.
BMW also offers a Diesel option for the Sports Wagon and 2 other levels of trim. First is the Luxury Line, which offers light multi-spoke wheels and chrome trim on the exterior, while the interior gets high-quality leather and wood trim. The other is the Sport Line, offering gloss black touches to the front grilles, black chrome exhaust tips, and double-spoke light alloy wheels. Featured on the inside are sport seats and a leather Sport steering wheel. These are just a few of the elements included in these lines.
The 328i Sports Wagon definitely adds new meaning to the term "grocery getter," and you can still pick up a lot of them with it. I think the wagon is back as a great alternative to an SUV. It will haul your gear and actually let you have fun while doing it.
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