• 330d is the first six-cylinder diesel in the new 3-series range
  • Multi-spoke 18-inch alloys standard with Luxury spec
  • Luxury trim also brings chrome exterior trim
  • Boot access made easier by separately opening hatchback glass
  • Heavily creased panels reflect the current BMW design trend
  • Centre console is properly converted for right-hand drive with buttons conveniently placed
  • Standard leather colours are black, beige or brown
  • Rear passenger space is a vast improvement over previous 3-series'
  • Dials are clear, sharp and easy to read
  • Luxury trim adds classy wood finishes
  • Boot loading lip is slightly proud of the rear bumper to prevent scuffed paintwork
  • Twenty years ago, the 300d would have been considered junior-supercar fast
  • Small-ish fuel tank gives an acceptable, but not impressive range
  • Updated engine gets a twin-scroll, variable geometry turbocharger
  • Brakes are strong, with good performance and feel
  • Extra weight of the six-cylinder engine blunts turn-in response slightly
  • Another landmark diesel BMW. Pricey after options, but worth every penny

Given the mechanical diversity once found in BMWs, it seems slightly odd that, out of 10 engine variants currently on offer to 3-series buyers, the 330d is one of only three that aren’t four-cylinder turbos. The richer end of the spectrum will be filled up as time passes, of course, and you can be sure that an even more powerful oil-burner than this will play its part.

However, our test subject’s mill leaves little to be desired. It is an update of the ‘30d’ lump you’ll find in an X5 or X6 (see ‘Under the Skin’, p67), and promises better throttle response and refinement compared to the E90 330d, as well as more thrust. Its headline outputs of 255bhp and 413lb ft may no longer make it the hottest fleet exec on the block, but that’s only due to the trend for twin and even triple-turbocharging that BMW itself started, and which has seen as much as 376bhp conjured from a 3.0-litre diesel.

Matt Prior

Road test editor
Impressively smooth ZF auto gearbox is well matched to the 3.0-litre motor

BMW’s 3-series Touring body is identical to the saloon from the B-pillars forwards and has the same length, width and wheelbase as the four-door. It uses the same all-independent strut front and multi-link rear suspension, too; no 5-series-style automatic self-levelling here. But the 97mm growth spurt the F30 put on relative to the E90 should make this Touring that bit more accommodating than the last.

ZF’s emissions-saving eight-speed automatic gearbox comes as standard on the 330d, as does Servotronic variable-assistance power steering (choose a less powerful engine and you have to pay extra for both). But it wouldn’t be like BMW to give everything away for free. The Adaptive M Sport suspension of our test car, which allows you to tailor the damping control to suit your mood, is an extra, as is the car’s non-speed-dependent variable-ratio steering.

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