Despite the power disparity on paper of 300 for the Volvo versus 240 for the 328i the 328i only loses the 1/4 mile sprint by 2/10's although the Volvo has four miles per hour on it through the traps with a 102. The Volvo would match up better versus the six cylinder offerings from BMW, Audi, and Mercedes. The 328i still out accelerates all other competitors however which certainly is impressive.
Car and Driver makes an interesting point of BMW seeming to focus more on fuel economy and comfort rather than sportiness as they once did, "But maybe that tire choice is emblematic of a new approach at BMW, one that values fuel economy and rear-seat space and comfort more than it once did." Seems the mainstream is picking up on it finally but the fact is the BMW 328 still wins this comparison.
Car and Driver believes the E90 was a more interesting car to drive although we do not know if we agree with that. The N20 sits further back, the car isn't any heavier, and has a far fatter curve. It is likely nostalgia and criticism towards BMW's shift from sportiness to watering the brand down a bit to sell as many cars as they possibly can rather than anything wrong with the 328i. The 3 still is the best in its class, even if the gap is not as large as it once was. Only natural for others to get better as they attempt to imitate the best.