• The 2013 BMW 320i shaves $3,400 off the 328i's base price
  • 2.0-liter turbo four makes 180hp, 200lb-ft
  • Goes on sale this spring

A new, entry-level model will join BMW's popular 3 Series lineup this year. Dubbed the 320i, the latest 3 Series joins the model's range below the 328i, shaving off horsepower to reach a more affordable base price of $33,445 including destination.

Inside and out, the BMW 320i is largely unchanged from its more expensive stablemates. Aside from badging, the only way onlookers can distinguish the latest 3 is its single exhaust, versus the 328i's two pipes and a pronounced dual exhaust on the 335i. Inside, the 320i is completely carried over, retaining interior design and many standard features like Bluetooth and fuel-saving Start-Stop technology.

The biggest changes are under the hood, where the 320i uses a de-tuned version of the same 2.0-liter turbo four-cylinder found in the 328i. In the 320i, it's good for 180 horsepower and 200 pound-feet of torque, cutting 60 horses and 55 pound-feet from the 328i. BMW says 0-to-60 takes 7.1 seconds with either the standard six-speed manual or optional eight-speed automatic - a sharp rise from the 328i's 5.4-seconds 0-to-60 time.

But drivers who don't mind losing horsepower will appreciate the 320i's base price. At $33,445 with shipping, the new 320i undercuts today's 328i by $3,405. With BMW's attractive lease offers, we expect to see a big difference in monthly payments between the two models. Interestingly, drivers who choose the 320i won't save big at the pump. Manual 320i models will return 22 mpg city and 34 mpg highway - less than the 328i's EPA figures - while the automatic's 23 mpg city and 33 mpg highway equals the 328i's numbers. Blame it on the smaller engine working harder to move the 3,500-pound sedan.

Despite its new status as the bottom-rung 3 Series, the 2013 BMW 320i won't lose any options offered by pricier models. That means available features include BMW's xDrive all-wheel drive, BMW Assist telematics, and the usual litany of option packages including the Sport Package and Premium Package. Shoppers will be able to configure a 320i to their liking when the model reaches dealers this spring.

What it means to you: The new 320i's biggest competition will likely come from BMW's own certified pre-owned 328i models.

See all Detroit Auto Show News. 

What do you think of the 320i? Let us know in the comments below. 

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Doug DeMuro has a wide range of automotive industry experience, from work at a Ferrari dealership to a manager for Porsche North America. A lifelong car enthusiast, Doug's eclectic vehicle purchases include a Porsche 911 Turbo, an E63 AMG wagon, an old Range Rover and a Mercedes Benz G-wagen.

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