• This 2011 BMW 328i Sports Wagon is one of fewer than 400 3-series wagons fitted with the M-Sport package.
• The wagon's naturally aspirated 3.0-liter straight-six makes less power than BMW's turbocharged engines, but it is less complex and thus more reliable.
• The result is a car that's quick, practical, and fun to drive, and the icing on the cake here can be found between the seats: a six-speed manual transmission.
"They don't make them like that anymore" is both a cliché and a double-edged sword. Hyundai, for instance, would be positively eager to point out that its factories don't make 'em like the old Sonata or Excel any more, and good thing too. In the case of BMW, however, power and sheer speed have increased, but the 3-series is now styled like a visual head butt. Here, on the other hand, is the kind of enthusiast secret handshake that BMW used to be so good at.
Up for auction at Bring a Trailer (which, like Car and Driver, is part of Hearst Autos), this 2011 BMW 328i wagon checks all the possible boxes. First of all, this North America–spec wagon is one of only a few equipped with the desirable M-Sport package. Along with 18-inch wheels and some more aggressive bodywork, the M-Sport also got sportier seats and a lovely leather-wrapped three-spoke steering wheel.
Even better, and rarer, it's a manual. The bulk of 3-series sold in 2011 were, of course, equipped with automatic transmissions. Today, it's rare to see even an M-car with a stick shift. In this case, the six-speed manual and three-pedal setup unlocks quite a bit more fun when seated behind the wheel.
Spec-wise, the engine seems unremarkable, but it's a trick. Peak power from the naturally aspirated straight-six is 230 horsepower and 200 pound-feet of torque. Even with BMW's xDrive all-wheel drive sapping some power through parasitic losses, it's still plenty. It's a BMW straight-six, after all: an inherently perfectly balanced engine built by a German company whose middle initial is literally "Motoren."
In an M4, stomp the throttle and go directly to jail, do not collect $200. But in this wagon, you could wind it out on your favorite back road, taking that straight-six to redline again and again. You paid for the whole tachometer, so why not use it? Then, back to work on the Monday rat race, it's a competent cruiser with gutsy torque. Plus, there's enough cargo room to haul groceries or the dog or your road bike. Throw in all-wheel drive for four-season drivability, and you've got a Munich-built Swiss Army knife of a car.
As far as the rest of the crossover-driving masses around you know, it's just another car on the road. But show up at your local Cars and Coffee event in this wagon, and those gathered there will know. Nods of approval. Knowing smiles. Oh, is that a manual? Sweet. Too bad we don't get the wagon over here. Yeah, they just don't make 'em like that anymore.
With six days to go on the auction—which ends on Thursday, September 29–early bidding stands at $13,400. Whoever wins the auction will be getting a very special machine.
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