Photo courtesy BMW
You can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear and you can’t make a cutting edge vehicle out of a station wagon no matter the badge. But if you must rock a family vehicle by necessity and it’s either a wagon or the minivan, this is your ride, Dad. The 328xi’s sharp lines and Beemer class puts you squarely in German heaven and if you don’t look in the rear view mirror, you’ll forget it’s not a sports car.
Actually, you’ll never mistake the 328i for a sports car. It’s got decent enough steering responses but even with the “Sport” mode engaged (as opposed to the “Eco Pro” which saves gas) you’re not going to throw a scare into anyone at stop lights with its 2.0 liter, inline 4-cylinder engine making 240 horsepower. It is, however, a smooth, plush ride, with a seamless 8-speed automatic shift, variable sport steering and BMW’s famous xDrive, which uses an “intelligent” all-wheel system allowing for easier snow and rain navigation. The car is is comfy, too—no part of my anatomy got sore during any part of a round trip from New York to Boston. I also fit two guitars, a P.A. system, a suitcase and assorted stuff in the rear with room to spare, and headroom is generous, too. And speaking of the rear, the luggage compartment has increased by over a cubic foot over previous models, giving you 17.5 cubic feet of space when your seats are in upright position and a very roomy 53 cubic feet when the seats are down. Another unique and welcome feature is a mechanism whereby you wave your foot underneath the rear bumper if your key is in close proximity and the rear hatch glides open so you don’t have to put down your groceries or child.
Virtual Mom’s on board via the safety button on the shift and various beeps and warnings wagging a virtual finger at you if the car “thinks” you’re driving too fast or aren’t wearing your safety belt. Naturally, too, there are Apps galore in your front audio/nav system/climate console, and you’ve got a Harman Kardon Surround Sound system that delivers crispy clear tunes.
Crossovers and SUVs have had wagons on the ropes for at least the last ten years, outranking them in sales, most importantly, but also style-wise in the public’s eye. Wagons stubbornly refuse to concede the match, though, and the 328i makes a good case for this old-fashioned but still-worthy style of car.
All photos courtesy BMW.