The 1 series is not the entry into the BMW brand in North America. Rather, it is a niche vehicle, not unlike the Z4, meant to bring in a segment of the enthusiast market that wasn’t serviced by the rest of the lineup.
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The entry into the BMW brand in the US has always been the 3 Series, and as the 3 series has grown in size, power and features, it’s affordability has declined. BMW has recognized this and has introduced the 320i (let’s think of it as the successor to the 318i). This is the car that a younger buyer can stretch the budget to get. It will deliver the essence of the Ultimate Driving Machine at a price that makes sense.
So what do you give up when you decide on a 320i as opposed to a 328i? Well, a bit of horsepower. The 320i makes do with 180 HP using a turbo and gasoline direct injection. You don’t however have to make do with a four speed automatic, it comes with the same eight speed gearbox offered in other BMWs.You don’t have to give up the wonderful driving dynamics that are the hallmark of BMW.
One feature that will attract buyers is the frugality that the BMW 320i will deliver – it will offer great gas mileage and also, thanks to EfficientDynamics also very low emissions. And the BMW 320i offers, as standard, the ability to take advantage of LTE mobile internet.
There is a new generation of buyers attracted to premium automobiles and the BMW 320i will offer them an opportunity to enjoy the essence of BMW’s driving experience. BMW hopes that they’ll go on and reward the brand with future purchases. Who knows, the 20 something 320i buyer, may become a 50 something 7er buyer. At least that’s the hope.
Base price comes in at $32,500 and of course that climbs as soon as you start checking boxes on the order sheet for options. It will also be available with xDrive. One very near competitor, the Mercedes-Benz C250 has a base price of $35,350 offering a 201 HP 1.8L turbo engine mated to a seven speed automatic gearbox driving the rear wheels (like the BMW 320i). Audi offers it’s A4 with a 2.0L turbo engine but couples it with a CVT in a front wheel drive configuration.