BMW 328i

Tuesday, May 31, 2011 - 5:32pm

Let’s just presume for the sake of argument that you just landed that big hedge fund deal that nets you a tidy forty-grand bonus. Or perhaps the lottery folks just called with some good news. Or the Publisher’s Clearinghouse guy is at the door with those goofy balloons. And you decide to find the best car available for forty large. We are talking about the hands-down, cards on the table, fun, fast, high-quality league leader. Well, I’d like to make the case for the BMW 328i coupe.

There are cars that will hit 60 miles per hour as quickly, or pull lateral g’s with it, or offer as many options and luxury touches. But there is nothing on the planet that offers all that combined with the quality, aplomb and bank-vault solidity of the products of the Bavarian Motor Works.

But let me start with looks, and that is where BMW has finally won me over. I never liked Bimmers much because they looked stodgy. I knew they were fast, well-built and as agile as a politician dodging questions. But they were boring, upright and way too conservative. The latest 3-Series though, is svelt, swoopy and curvaceous. The twin-kidney grill is squashed and widened. It’s as tasteful as a snotty men’s club.

Lift the hood adorned with the logo of the spinning propeller, and you see the reason for all the great press this car has gotten. The 3.0-liter inline six, which puts out 230-horsepower in the 328i coupe., In a car that weighs about as much as a Malibu or Fusion, that means 60 miles per hour from a standing start comes up in 5.7 seconds. Top speed is 130 miles per hour, which is about 30 miles per hour faster than most of us would feel comfortable travelling in any other sedan. But a Bimmer makes it seem doable for all us armchair Andrettis out here.

If you look up the word balance, you will find a picture of the BMW 328i. Base price for this little Bavarian cream puff is a hair under $40,000. That amount of scratch will buy you a lot of very nice automotive metal. But I’d buy this one. It’s as simple as that.

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