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BMW 3-Series

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BMW: the Ultimate Driving Machine

bmw_320ci.jpg
BMW 320Ci

bmw_323ti.jpg
BMW 323Ti

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SPEX

Years Represented: 1999-2005
Class: Compact Luxury Car
Type: Coupe, Notchback, & Sedan

Country: Germany
Host: GT2, GT3, GT4, & GT5

*Figures below are for the 1999 328 Ci in GT2 & 3, and 2005 330i of GT4 + 5*

Price: 50,690 (328ci, GT2 & 3) /// 48,048 (330i, GT4) /// 41,725 (330i, GT5)

328ci specs

Length: 176.7" Width: 69.2" Height: 53.9"
Wheelbase: 107.3"
Overhang: 5' 9"
Track: 57.9" [F] 58.2" [R]
Ground Clearance: 6.1"
Weight: 3,229 lbs.
Layout: Front Engine / Rear Drive
Tires: P205/55R-16
F. Suspension: MacPherson strut, coils, control arms, anti-roll bar
R. Suspension multilink, coils, anti-roll bar
Brakes: disc + ABS


330i specs
Length: 178.0" // Width: 71.5" // Height: 56.7"
Wheelbase: 108.7"
Overhang: 5 feet 9 inches
Track: 59.1" [F] 59.6" [R]
Ground Clearance: 4.7"
Weight: 3,361 pounds
Wgt. Dist: 50/50
Steering: power-assisted rack & pinion
Turns Lock 2 Lock: 1.750
Skidpad: 0.89g (real-life)
Tires: 205/50R-17
Suspension: as above (see 328ci specs)
Brakes: as above

328 Engine: 2.8 liter DOHC inline 6
Construction: iron block, aluminum head
 
Tested HP:````` 191 @ 5,500 rpms
Tstd. Torque:
207 @ 3,500 rpms
Lbs. per HP: 16.9 // HP per Liter: 68.5
Credits per HP: $265.39
 
Aspiration: normal
Fuel System: ?
Valves per Cyl: 4
Compression: ?
bore x stroke: 3.31 x 3.31"
GT2 Redine: 6,750 // Rev Lmt.: 7,000
GT3 Redline: 6,500 // Rev Lmt.: 6,700

 

The 330i of GT5 was given oil change + engine rebuild, for all specs below. This car could not be track-tested in this game, however.

330i Engine: 3.0 liter DOHC inline-6
Construction: aluminum block & head
Aspiration: natural
Fuel system:
Valves / Cyl: 4
Bore x Stroke: 3.35 x 3.46"
Compression: 10.7:1
                                             GT4                                      GT5 
Final BHP:`````268 @ 6,600 rpms                    266 @ 6,500
Final Torque:
232 @ 2,500-4,000 rpms          231 @ 2,500
 
 
Credits per HP: 179.28                                          156.86      
Pounds per HP: 12.54                                             12.63  
Hp per Liter: ```89.4                                                 88.7
 
Idle Speed: 1,000 // Redline: 6,750 // RPM Limit: 7,500


Transmission: 5-speed automatic (GT2, 328ci), 5-speed manual (GT3, 328ci), 6-speed manual (GT4 & 5 330i)


*again, testing for 328ci in GT2 & 3, and 330i in GT4

`````````````````````GT2`````````````````````````GT3```````````````````GT4
0-60 mph:    6.8 seconds            7.100 seconds         6.983 seconds
0-100mph:   19.4 seconds         19.966 seconds        16.383 seconds
 
400 M:     15.395 @ 90 mph       15.606 @ ? mph       15.388 @ 97 mph
1 KM:    
28.149 @ 118 mph       28.552 @ 117.1 mph   27.368 @ 126 mph
 
Test Track: 1:49.809                    2:41.782                         2:28.347
 
100-0 mph: ``````````````````````````` 3.100 seconds            4.12 seconds
Top Gear RPM at 60 MPH:       2,400 rpms                 2,100 rpms

Top Speed at Redline (GT3 328ci)
1st:  37.9 mph
2nd: 73.9 mph
3rd: 97.2 mph
4th: 131.9 mph
5th: 153.2  @ 6,000 rpms


Top Speed at Redline (GT4 330i)
1st: 33 mph
2nd: 64 mph
3rd: 95 mph
4th: 130 mph
5th: 158.68 mph @ 6,750 rpms
6th: 158.68 mph @ 5,750 rpms
 

 

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----------------EXTERIOR / HISTORY----------------

Bayerische Motoren Werkes: otherwise known as BMW...“The Ultimate Driving Machine”. To us gamers, we can also experience the 3 series as the ultimate DRIFTING machine as well. For this review, I'm focusing on the 3-series cars found in GT2 and GT3, only, as well as the 330i of GT4 and 5. Those two final games (GT4 and 5) also feature M-series cars, which are in a different league, and will get their own review. 

Though none of these Beemers can be accused of being high-powered, the 3-series in these games are as close as we're gonna get to sports car country, might as well get over the fact that there ARE no M series cars in GT2 or 3, thanks to EA's Need 4 Speed games, which had an exclusive contract with BMW when GT2 & 3 were in development. Wouldn't it be great to run an M1 in the World Cup? The All Stars Races? Take an M3 and clobber some Ai in the GT300? As much as I and others love the sedans and coupes found in the 2nd and 3rd games, they'll always remain suburbanite yuppy mobiles, even after getting a bit more power under the hood. They will rarely graduate to true high-paced racing stardom!

Although the stats above describe the most powerful of the 3s, this review will discuss all of the autos: the 320Ci, the 323Ci, 323Ti, 328i, 328Ci, and 330i.

In GT2, the 323 and 328 coupes are the best bet if you want the most action, since they get the most power and can accept racing kits, but honestly all of these Beemers have their place in the game, and we can bake in any of them. In GT3, there is only one BMW left from the parade of cars of GT2: the 328Ci. And GT4 and 5 feature a catch from the 4th generation: the 330i sedan. Any of the five  3-series machines mentioned before are from the 3rd-generation, not to be found as used cars. The only used version we can find at all won't be discovered until GT5, and it's still got a rather healthy (yet not staggering) pricetag.  

An early quick note. The 3-series is not for everyone, despite what you may have read in most major publications. It's a great car to explore if you've been playing Gran Turismo for awhile, but a beginner will more likely be frustrated by it once it's got some power.

The 3-series was introduced in 1975 and became BMW's most popular cars, but the distinctive grill is derived from the 1600, a car built in the '60s. The 1600 later became the 2000, which evolved to the famous 2002 series, and dammit this is the car I wish was in GT2!  When the 2002 became the 3 series (starting with the 320, I think), it gained weight and lost some of its ultra-nimble handling, but only some of it. Though we can't own a 2002 until GT4 was on our shelves, my guess is that it would handle similarly to the '71 Nissan Skyline in earlier games. Drivers who raced these early 2002s (as well as some of the 3-series) sometimes said that these BMWs were hard to break loose in turns, even though they are rear-wheel drive, which made them great for rallies in the age before 4-wheel drive. Same could be said for early Skyline racers, as well.  

Once weight is removed, racing a 320, 323, 328 in GT2 or 3 is rather like racing a Silvia or 240 SX, albeit with a bit more body roll. The 3-series cars are prone to oversteer, though mostly it's controllable and fun if you've got some skillz. The 330i of GT4 drives with just as much capability as cars from earlier games, minus the oversteer-on-demand. We don't get this back until the 5th game.  
 
Here's a story from my GT2 days:

Last nite I drove a 215 hp BMW 320Ci up against a Lotus Elise 111S in the Trail Mountain Enduro. The Lotus only has 144 hp, but it weighs in at just over 1,600 pounds. My 320, on the other hand, just got Stage 1 weight reduction (3,015 lbs.) and was equipped with normal dealer's tires, semi-racing suspension lowered to 125 mm front & 135 rear, close ratio gears and factory brake pads with the controller set at 14 & 10. What a race! The BMW had the power advantage of course, but as the laps wore on, the Lotus became more competitive since it weighs half as much, and therefore has better tire durability.

I pit the 320 on lap 17 (one lap before the 111 pulled in) and even though the front tires were just turning from oragne to red, the Beemer's lap times had barely suffered up till this point. Both cars were neck-and-neck right up till those tires went out.

After getting lazy and performing some spectacular drifts, the Lotus caught me again, but I won, mostly by willing the BMW to win. It's a car that works with us in many ways.

Like other Bavarians, the 3-series can be had in many colors. You can't change wheels in GT2, unfortunately. Apparently, big-bad, snobby BMW didn't want their cars to have after-market rims in this game, this is my guess. Though these cars looks a bit too familiar (and somewhat dated) in our games, they are also immediately recognizable. Brand identification that will last eons, I'm sure.  
 
 

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------------------ENGINE / DRIVETRAIN----------------

Though the 3-series exterior arguably lacks variety, there are several engines to choose from represented by the 320, 323, 328 and 330 designations. All of them are BMW's famous inline sixes with slightly higher-than-normal compression rates, though I have to admit they all lack power at first. The engines sound realistic in most games and situations, just as they should. Straight sixes tend to have a gurbling sort of sound at lower revs, which gets replaced with a less-distinctive blare as those revs rise.  
 
I haven't driven all of the 3-series of GT2, but below are some quick stats. There are also (of course) more stats from the GT3, GT4, and 5 cars above in the Specs section.

Car        HP  0-60     0-100       mile     1KM    Top
320Ci    148   7.8      23.8         16.3     29.7    143 mph
328Ci   191   6.8      19.4.          15.4     28.14  154 mph
328i      191   6.606  19.079      15.446  28.080   154.81


Sorry, that's about as high-tech as my website gets, but you get the picture. None of these figures are stellar, which is unfortunate since BMW is right behind Porsche when it comes to high-performance autos. But that doesn't mean we can't make things better.

The 320 (GT2) can be pushed to 313 hp at max, but the 328Ci will go to
480 @ 7,000 rpms with 411 ft-lbs. @ 5,100. Its redline gets raised a bit from 6,750 to 7,000 with an 8,000 rpm RPM limit in either car.
 
The 328Ci will accept 3 stages of either normal tuning or turbos in either GT2 or GT3. It is of some note that a Stage 3 turbo costs 30,000 credits less than Stage 3 tuning for a 328Ci!  The 330i of GT4 and 5 accepts 3 stages of tuning, but no turbos. At best, its 3-liter will boast a healthy (but not supreme) 433 bhp with 352 foot-pounds in the 4th game, and a rather wanky 408 @ 7,400 with 311 @ 4,900 in game 5. We can still do plenty of damage with such power, but if we want to go farther, an M will be needed.  

Though they may lack out-of-the-box power, the good thing about these cars are the number of races they can enter, depending which game we've got. In GT2 with its horsepower limits, we've got a lot of choice. We can safely rule out the Kei Car races obviously, as well as the World Cup and other higher body-modified events, since 3-series cars in either game just haven't got the available power, but just about everything else is up for grabs. What the 3-series lacks in starting figures they make up in versatility. In GT4, again, there's a large list of events we can try. Clubman Cup, PD Cup, FR Challenge, Schwarzwald Liga B, many Special Condition races. Your 330i's credits will go a long way, my friend.
 
Only when we get to GT5 will we hit more of a wall during early events, since this car is too good for some races, but hasn't got enough power for others. Still, the FR Challenge, Supercar Festival (assuming we subtract lots of weight), Tuning Car Championship, PD Cup, Schwarzwald Liga B, European Championship, and some endurance races can be tried. So actually, that's a pretty nice list. 

All of the gearboxes we can find in any game will be useful somewhere; you shouldn't need a racing unit unless you're desperate for that perfect fit. I'm lazy, though. If I don't have to tune a gearbox, I won't. Same goes with the limited slip; the 3-series are built to perform, and I often don't install one of these....they seem to kill some of the fun.
 

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328 ci with racing kit installed

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---------------------CHASSIS / HANDLING----------------------

Speaking of fun, let's have some now.

As mentioned earlier, these sedans and coupes are split right down the middle with regard to drift & grip capabilities, at least in GT2, 3, or 5. The GT4 cars are unfortunately more prone towards understeer. They lack drift capabilities, but can still be thrown around with dexterous precision and feint motion, if the driver is brave.

GT2 & 3
If you want your 3 to drift or slide, it'll do so with plenty of control. If you want to go for grip and better lap times, the 3s will be happy to accomodate, as long as you've got the right tires. Despite a lot of body roll, 3-series cars really grip the road. They've got good tires and chassis-to-body geometry, and a sports suspension will quickly diminish any leftover leaning.

Mostly, a full-racing suspension will be needed if you're tackling any of the GT2 "Page 4" Special events: the GT300 (which I did recently in a race-modded 328), Tuned NA, Tuned Turbo, or the Super Touring Series...or if you're gonna rally. Otherwise, suspension tuning can be economical, and not all too technical. 
 
GT4
As mentioned above, the 330i of GT4 isn't quite as fun as 3-series cars in GT2 and 3. Not that it's not capable on the tracks; certainly it is. But this game's modeling stole away most of the slippy, slidey behavior from earlier games, and left behind a car that is mostly grippy with a final tendency towards either understeer or body-sway oversteer (if things are really up to speed), but not true power-overdrift at lower speeds.

Kinda sucks, but this is actually how the BMW 3-series is supposed to handle, according to all the hype in the car mags.

GT5
And now it's time to forget that nonsense!  Ja, das ist now the time to have some fun!  Now ist das time on Sprockets venn vee dance!

Gone are the complaints from GT4. Good-bye. The 330i is now a devilishly fun machine to play around with, once again. Even on those crappy soft radial tires, which are mounted by default, the 330i begins to feel a lot like an actual rear-drive car again. Just make sure that if you go this route, don't touch the car's power yet. Those tires are that crappy, after all. With stock, 260-ish power, we begin to see how much the personality of this Bimmer has already changed, in comparison to the previous game. 

Every turn the 330i takes, it takes more playfully. The front-end grabs lightly as we turn-in, and understeer is usually minimal, assuming proper brakes have been utilized. Mid-turn?  This one is now in its happy-zone, really digging into those turns of all kinds. And exits?  Oh boy. Such a change. The biggest change we can experience happens as we're leaving those turns. My car had 266 horsepower after its engine maintenance was done, which resulted in a rear-end which had just enough power to break those tires, but in a manner which was progressive, and easily controllable. 

...like putting a slab of butter on a warming pan. The butter won't melt immediately. Instead, it'll slowly begin to slide around, right?  That's how this car is. It won't just slide off in a messy way like some more-powerful rear-drives. Instead, it melts its way around those turns. And we get to control how fast the rear-end melts, or whether it melts at all.

If anything, one of the only complaints I can think of at this point is that if we try to push just a little too much, those tires won't be able to handle this. And NOW we've got our grand, messy slide. We must be careful to avoid moments like these, unless we're doing some mad dR!fT!ng, perhaps. But if we're trying to be gentlemanly, there are some moments when driving on this car's stock tires will eventually betray us. They can only handle so much.    

Then again, at what point will we be racing on radials? Equip some sport tires, as I did during GT5's Polyphony Digital Cup, and the 330i becomes much more stable overall, WHILE also still offering some of those better traits found in earlier games, including GT2. We can toss & turn. We can shake & bake. Or we can simply concentrate, in an effort to get some lower numbers. The BMW 330i allows us to do any of this, and all of this, once again.   

 

 

PROS-------------------------------------------------------

1). Lots of options, especially in GT2. Different size engines, a variety of colors (in GT2, 3, or 4), and body styles (GT2). With all the differences in horsepower (GT2), a driver will be able to tackle roughly 70 to 80% of the game's races just driving 3-series BMWs. This gets dumbed-down somewhat in later games (GT4 and 5), and there aren't as many 3-series options, but the 330i still sees plenty of action.  

2). Lots of engine upgrades on certain models. Turbos and NA kits can be had in either GT2 or 3, depending which model you've got.

3). Those straight-6 motors sound great, just like my aunt's Beemer.

4). Chameleon-like handling. These cars can be pushed for drifting, hurled into power slides, but also grip the road, which is what BMWs are famous for.

5). Distinctive and handsome looks. The 3 series cars manage not to look boxy, even though they are originally spawned from the 2000/2002, a very boxy design.

6). Transmissions are all useful, as well as tires and suspensions. No credit will go to waste if parts have been bought carelessly.

7). Doesn't matter which game: limited-slips, brake upgrades, and some other parts (like better tires) are all secondary purchases 'til the engine is cooking with more power. Some of these parts still won't be absolutely needed, even as power gets raised near-max. This depends on the model and game, though.

8). Some GT2 cars (the coupes, not the 328 sedan or the 323Ti notchback) accept race-mods. 

9). 6-speed transmission stock in the 330i of GT4 and 5

 
CONS--------------------------------------------------------

1). Bland to average acceleration before engine is upgraded. Some of these Beemers can't crack 150 mph, at first.

2). A bit expensive, especially once we factor in all the parts some of these cars may need in the long run.

3). I like BMWs, but some may find them dated and too suburbanish...quite frankly they're right.

4). NO M SERIES in some games! GT3 only features one single BMW....the 328Ci. GT4 and 5 only have one "non-M": the 330i sedan. No more coupes.  

5). None of the regular (non M) 3-series cars can be pushed over 480 hp in any GT game so far.

6). BMW has a real-life reputation which includes tons of praise and hype about the great machinery they make. Beginners may get swayed by all this hype; only to find the 3-series machines can be difficult to maneuver. These cars'll do what we want them to do--true--but not if the driver doesn't know what he/she is doing, if that makes any sense.  

7). GT2: after-market rims cannot be bolted on.

8). GT4: the 330i in this game grips and can be tossed just like 3-series of earlier games, but isn't as fun to drive since drifting is next-to-impossible in this game, unless these cars are equipped with some really crappy tires and the driver has some skill.  
 
 
 
Published: December 26, 2004
Re-written: September 27, 2008
GT5 Content Added: July 7th, 2015

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