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2012 BMW 328i

2012 BMW 328i (c) 2012 BMW Group

Until recently, I wasn’t sure whom to blame: the brokers on Wall Street, the Indian & the Chinese or those princes in the Middle East. What’s the connection? The burden on my wallet every time I want to go somewhere. For those of you just out of womb: inflating prices and an increased demand of old plants and big reptiles has made life more expensive for me. As you grow older, you will learn how truly inter-connected the world has become. But to make things simple, just remember this: every time you forget your homework and Mommy or Daddy have to bring it to you at school, you get less stuff on your birthday.

Parents, this is when you cut your kids off from reading the rest. Yes, what I am about to say is Safe for Work (SFW), I just want to let you in on a little four-lettered, three-numbered secret that will allow you –inexplicably to your kids—to afford some toys of your own: B-M-W-3-2-8-i.

Of course, I’m talking about the all-new, BMW 328i. The 2012 model now features the N20 engine. It’s an inline, 4-cylinder gas engine with TwinPower Turbo technology. So what does that mean—are there uppity, out-of-line engines out there? Yes and no. There are engines out there that are not inlines, aka “straights,” mainly the standard V-engines and diesels, but others such as boxers and “wizard factories,” aka rotaries. So while the other engines behave fairly well, it’s just that straight engines tend to be smoother.

Now, before you go all elementary-school-math on me and say, “But four cylinders is less than six cylinders,” I will admit, you have me there. But if you read a little bit more closely, you will see there is more to the engine than just four cylinders—there is a turbocharger. On paper, turbochargers are a golden exemption to that stilly capitalist rule: to get more, you have to pay more. While you may bring up the fact that you pay more for a Porsche GT3RS with fewer parts than its little brothers, I will ignore you and insist on staying on topic.

You see, turbos give you more power and more efficient use of fuel. Sounds like a total win-win, right? I mean it utilizes a twin-scroll design, which aids in providing a balanced spectrum of power. Here’s the problem: while on paper, it looks like you have lots of power, in the real world, you typically suffer from something called “turbo lag.” So when you put the pedal all the way to the floor, you don’t actually have all that power immediately available—you have to wait for the turbo to spool up and provide the power.

Or at least that is the typical complaint. When I drove the 328i, the biggest disconnect I ever felt from the power is actually supposed to happen. BMW utilizes a start/stop feature to save you gas while you wait at a red light. The engine stops running in order to save you gas, and it flips back on once you take your foot off the brake pedal. It felt no different than turning the car on and off. In your day-to-day running, this isn’t much of an issue, but a recent turn of events does make me wonder if this feature could make a bad day even worse.

If you have ever had to jump start your car, you should know that until you can get the car to a place where the battery can be replaced, once running, you don’t turn your car off. Unfortunately, by the time your battery dies, I doubt that roads will have been re-constructed in a way that prevents you from coming upon a red light on your way to the auto store. So I wonder, with start/stop becoming more prevalent, will we have more stranded vehicles at intersections in a few years’ passing?

Who knows—that’s a couple of years down the road anyway. We are more concerned with the green light on which we wait. React to it, and 255 ft. lbs. of torque propels you forward with confidence. That torque remains constant between 1,250 and 4,800 rpm, which means that metallic-white HUD will quickly indicate you are most likely doing double those arbitrary and outdated, black-on-white numbers.

Perhaps the Germans created this machine to save them from having to bail out another country burdened with debt. Here’s how it works: because the 328i is without want of power, we will surely stretch its legs beyond the government’s revenue-raising limits imposed on us. Fortunately, the 328i is sufficiently fuel efficient—enough so that we can afford those speeding tickets. The fines could then be used to pay off the debt. It could be Cash-for-Clunkers 2.0, except this time, people wouldn’t be able to put the money towards fuel efficient vehicles like a Ford F-150 pick-up truck.

Sure it’s a little paternalistic to force people into fun, safe, comfortable and fuel-efficient vehicles that are actually enjoyable to drive, but I mean who hasn’t voted against gay marriage from time to time?

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