BMW 328i x Drive (Peter Hetzmannseder/BMW )

Bottom line: The 2014 BMW 328i xDrive wagon is expensive, especially in comparison with many of its rivals. It is worth it.

Ride, acceleration and handling: For a compact wagon, it gets superior marks in all three.

Head-turning quotient: It turned heads everywhere, even drawing more spectator praise than some more exotic rivals.

Body style/layout: The 2014 BMW 328i xDrive is a front-engine, all-wheel-drive compact hatchback wagon in the entry-level luxury category ($40,000 to $60,000). Later this year, it will be available with a diesel engine and rear-wheel drive.

Engine/transmission: The current 328i xDrive comes standard with a turbocharged (forced-air) 16-valve, ­2-liter in-line four-cylinder gasoline engine with variable valve timing. The engine is linked to an eight-speed automatic transmission that also can be shifted manually.

Capacities: Seats five people. The cargo hold is big enough to carry two weeks’ worth of groceries or four soft-pack luggage pieces. The fuel tank holds 15.8 gallons of gasoline (premium grade is required).

Mileage: My real-world mileage was 20 miles a gallon in the city and 30 on the highway.

Safety: Standard equipment includes front and rear ventilated disc brakes, four-wheel anti-lock brake protection, an automatic brake-drying system, emergency braking assistance, electronic brake-force distribution, electronic stability and traction control, passenger head-restraint whiplash protection, and side and head air bags.

Optional safety equipment recommended by this column: Blind-spot monitoring, lane-departure warning, real-time-and-place speed-limit monitoring, and parking-distance monitoring.

Pricing: The base price of the 2014 BMW 328i xDrive wagon is $41,450, with a dealer’s invoice price of $38,135. Price as driven is $51,075, including $8,700 in options (“M Sport” design and equipment package, onboard navigation with high-definition backup camera, advanced safety items) and a $925 port-to-dealership transportation charge. Dealer’s price as tested is $46,975.