BMW 328i gets EPA fuel economy downgrade

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BMW 328i

This is an earlier model year of the BMW 328i. Image: siRRonWong/Flickr/CC BY

BMW got some sobering news earlier this week when the Environmental Protection Agency lowered the fuel-economy rating of its 2012 328i eight-speed automatic model. The down-tick came following the federal agency’s second round of testing.

Dropped one in city, three on highway

According to a BMW spokesman, the automaker has been ordered by the EPA to lower the miles per gallon numbers for the 2012 BMW 328i automatic. Only last week, the sedan commanded 24 mpg in town and 36 mpg on the highway. Today, it can only achieve 23 and 33.

Agency ran its own test

Automakers are expected to run every new model through a battery of strictly prescribed tests and report the results to the EPA before receiving an official fuel-economy rating. Most of the time, the agency will accept the figures from the automaker without question. Sometimes, however, the EPA will conduct its own tests. The lowered numbers are a result of that second round of tests by the federal regulation agency.

EPA tests only a handful

According to Car and Driver magazine, only about 15 percent of all vehicle models sold in the U.S. get the personal treatment from the EPA testers.

Downgrade ‘abnormally low’

The EPA, from time to time, will make minor revisions in ratings, as implied in the fine-print disclaimer on its ratings stickers affixed to new cars. The BMW revision, dropping highway mpg by three, is quite severe. BMW, in a press release, said it was “surprised” at the “abnormally low” rating.

BMW 328i specs

The 2012 BMW 328i packs a 2.0 liter turbocharged four-cylinder 240 horsepower engine that delivers 260 lb-ft of torque. It has an eight-speed transmission, which is operated by paddle shifters mounted on the steering wheel.

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EPA testing standards

The car was originally tested by BMW in Munich. An EPA fuel-economy test has to be done on an indoor track, under controlled conditions. The type of fuel is even specified, so that all variables remain constant. The vehicle is attached to a dynamometer and is put through five different test cycles: city, hot city, cold city, highway and aggressive highway.

Lower rating to stay

BMW will not be able to re-test the car until its 2013 model is ready. Until then, the lowered rating will stick for the 328i automatic. The six-speed manual shift version, however, retained its 23/24 rating. There is still something to be said for the human touch.


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Car and Driver

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