You'll have to look closely to spot the exterior changes over earlier versions, as they're limited to a new kidney grille, front bumper and headlamps, as well as L-shaped tail lamps with a larger trunk lid out back. Inside, only a revised iDrive and a new starter button mark the facelift from its predecessor, which debuted in 2006.
Three inline six-cylinder, 3.0-liter engine options are available for the U.S. market, starting at the bottom end with the 328i's 230-horsepower motor before climbing to the turbocharged 300-horsepower unit in the 335i and ending, at the top of the lineup, with the 335d's 265-horsepower turbodiesel. Despite their on-paper similarities, each engine is vastly different.
The base 328i's engine puts out 200 lb-ft. of torque from 2,750 rpm and it mates to a choice of six-speed manual or automatic transmissions. Available with rear- or BMW's xDrive all-wheel-drive, the 328i sedan is also offered in coupe, wagon and convertible (RWD-only) variants.
First introduced in 2007, the 335i's turbo-six produces an impressive 300 lb-ft. of torque from just 1,400 rpm. It is also offered with either an automatic or manual transmissions and all-wheel-drive, but unlike the 328i, the turbocharged model isn't offered in wagon form in the U.S.
328i xDrive and 335i xDrive features a rear-wheel-bias designed to preserve the unique feel of a rear-wheel-drive car, but allowing for extra traction in slippery conditions.
The new 3-Series diesel-powered model is known as the 335d Sedan, and is the first diesel engine offered in a BMW sedan in the U.S. since the ill-fated 524td of the mid-1980s. With a mountain of torque -- 425 lb-ft. on tap from just 1,750 rpm -- BMW didn't have a standard manual transmission that would hold up, so the German automaker offers only a six-speed automatic. The 335d also features 265 horsepower, and accelerates from zero-to-60 in just six seconds.
BMW's controversial iDrive system makes its appearance in the 3-Series, though only with the optional navigation system. Thoroughly revised from earlier systems, it takes advantage of a faster processor and higher-resolution screen, as well as a simplified menu system.
The 335i and 335d add to the 328i fully-power front seats with memory, an upgraded audio system and Xenon headlamps.
Major options on all models include the Premium Package, which adds leather upholstery, Bluetooth and BMW Assist emergency and concierge service, among other items and the Sport Package, which features adjustable sports seats, a revised steering wheel and, on non-xDrive models only, a lowered and stiffened sport suspension.
Other available options include paddle shifters with the automatic transmission, adaptive cruise control, HD radio and Active Steering, which adjusts to road speeds for lighter effort at urban speeds.