Of all the BMWs currently available I find the 320i with the sport package to be the most intriguing. As I've mentioned in the past, the BMW I miss the most is my beloved e46 328i. The e39 M5 was brilliant, I thoroughly enjoyed the Z4, and the X3 was surprisingly good. But the 3er seemed to fit me the best.
What I loved about the e46 was it's superb handling, well appointed (but spartan) interior, and best-in-class ergonomics. The latter going unnoticed until spending time driving other cars, BMW doesn't get enough credit for this. The inline six was brilliant, smooth and sonorous. With the CAI, FFE, and Dinan software upgrade the middle of the power band really opened up.
The time I spent with the 3er changed my perceptions of what I needed in a car forever. The stoplight showdown and 0-60 time just didn't matter. What I wanted was good mid range acceleration, aka passing power, and a solid chassis to enjoy some great driving roads. There is one car in the current BMW range in the US that fits this bill expertly: the 320i.
With the 320i fitted with the sport package and manual transmission I get everything I'm looking for in a car today. Additionally, the fuel economy is great, and, if the 2.0 four banger is like other BMW engines, that economy will improve with age.
What I also like about the 320i is the ability to get a spartan build without all the eletrickery that I neither need nor want. I would opt for leather, moonroof, split folding rear seats, alarm, and sport package (of course). Maybe I'd add the driver assistance package since the rear view camera could be a life saver.
With that set of options I'd have a very similar setup to my 328i and only be giving up 9HP. I don't see that as a compromise at all. I think many current and former BMW owners will flock to the 320i. It's the right car for these times giving people the luxury and performance they want without making them pay for a multiple of gewgaws they don't.
BMW, thanks for finally bringing the 320i to America.