The car as a whole is 3.7 inches longer than its predecessor and rides on a 2-inch longer wheelbase. It's well put together, as you'd expect BMWs to be. In fact, maybe a little too put together; the doors and trunk lid needed practically a full body-blow to shut properly. Trivial, but annoying.
Inside reveals another questionable design, but fortunately this fumble can be avoided.
In addition to the base 3 Series, three trims are offered, each with specific aesthetic elements inside and outside the car. The Sport line goes for $2,500 and comes with an excellent sport-tuned suspension, while the Luxury and Modern lines are $2,100.
The car I tested was a $50,245 328i Modern that had possibly the oddest optional wood trim I've seen inside a vehicle. It was matte and heavily textured and gave the impression that you had ordered your BMW with decorative ripples of stale chocolate.
The confectioner's-delight theme continued with the car's dashboard and leather seats, which were a color BMW calls Dakota Oyster. "Delicious nougat" is closer. The entire experience was like driving inside a Three Musketeers bar.
Otherwise the interior was noteworthy for its solid comfort and lack of drama. The iDrive controller has been revised for greater intuitiveness, and it and a corresponding 6.5-inch screen are standard. Don't count that as navigation, though, since that feature is part of a $2,550 technology package. Interior space is up, which enables rear passengers of normal and normal-plus height to sit comfortably.
Minor aesthetic foibles aside, the 2012 BMW 328i is a success because its performance and handling remain sublime. It uses as inspiration the best, and -- like Kobe or Orson -- the best just happens to be itself.