While the rest of the CarBuzzard crew is located in sunnier climes, your faithful Buzzard-in-Chief is in the northeast, which experienced a record-setting season for snow. What better time to test the 2014 BMW 328i Gran Turismo xDrive?
We’ve reported on the 3-Series Gran Turismo before with a first-drive review of a 2014 BMW 335i Gran Turismo. Note: sans xDrive. That first-drive car was, like our current tester, a four-door fastback hatchback, hence the Gran Turismo name. But without the xDrive suffix, it had rear-wheel drive, and as the model number indicates to those who speak BMW, it was powered by BMW’s impressive 3.0-liter TwinPower turbocharged (just one turbo, if you’re wondering) in-line six.
Our current tester, however, had BMW’s 2.0-liter TwinPower four-cylinder engine, and although we liked the More Power 3.0-liter when we drove it, we’ll have to confess that, for most people, the only disadvantage of having the 328i above the right taillight is psychological. The BMW 328i Grant Turismo xDrive machine is just as ultimate as the 335i. It just takes more time to get to the bigger numbers. The 2.0-liter engine is rated at 240 horsepower at 5,000 rpm, which isn’t particularly astounding. Its 255 lb-ft of torque isn’t overwhelming either, at least until that it’s delivered from just 1,250 rpm all the way up to 4,800 rpm.
The 2014 BMW 328i Gran Turismo xDrive, at 3,915 lbs, isn’t a lightweight, but BMW claims 6.1 seconds for 0-to-60 mph. More impressive, however, is the effect of the torque spread either on a winding road or around town. And particularly the latter. The acceleration comes more casually, with less need to wind the engine to high revs to keep up with—or better, ahead—of the Hondas with the fart-can exhaust, without really trying.
It hardly seems necessary, however, with the eight-speed automatic transmission, which allows the engine to stay in the best rev range for economy as well as performance. The torque just allows the transmission to be in a higher gear, and therefore fewer revs, for all-around better gas mileage.
Speaking of which, we recorded an overall economy number of 21.5 mpg, and although we didn’t achieve the 22/33 city/highway miles per gallon that the EPA test regimen says we should have with the 2014 BMW 328i Gran Turismo xDrive, we were limited not only by the steep hills in this testing venue, but also the cold and snowy weather. Our test vehicle had auto stop/start, which should have turned off the engine when we stopped at traffic light or other momentary pause in progress. It didn’t, at least when the temperature was below 20 degrees. And it was, much of the time.
But we also drove more slowly than we might otherwise, out of prudence. It’s considered impolite to return a test vehicle to the manufacturer bent and broken. We did deliberately push the 328i Gran Turismo xDrive in snowy corners where there was sufficient runout and the stability program—BMW calls it Dynamic Stability Control—tucked the front end into the corner, defeating our deliberate efforts to make the front end wash out. At some point, Mr. Newton takes his revenge and stability control can’t handle what is thrown at it, but we didn’t reach it.
Traction control kicked in only when we intentionally attempted to overwhelm the all-wheel drive, but the latter was able to get us well beyond what stopping ability the ABS and the winter tires could provide. BMW had wisely equipped our tester with winter treads. Here at CarBuzzard we’ve had near disaster trying to drive summer tires in winter, and even the all-season tires that come with the M Sport of our test car lack the winter traction of true cold-weather rubber.
Speaking of cold-weather driving, when we picked up our 2014 BMW 328i Gran Turismo xDrive, it had been sitting in snow and icy precipitation, and while we had cleared most of Mother Nature’s hoary insult, we neglected one space, which we discovered when we got up to about 70 mph. The car gave us a warning that the retractable rear spoiler hadn’t raised. Then, after it had risen, snow got packed under it and it wouldn’t go down. And another warning. Eh, firstworldproblem.
We usually don’t name cars, but if we had to, well, for getting through the winter months, we’d have to call our Alpine White 2014 BMW 328i Gran Turismo xDrive the White Wizard. OK, so we’ve seen Lord of the Rings too many times, but the car was magic in the snow.
Continued on next page for specifications and window sticker