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, 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.

Top 5 Compact saloons

  • The Jaguar XE - the big cat's new compact exec
    Jaguar's new four cylinder 2.0-litre Ingenium diesel engine comes with either 161bhp or 178bhp outputs

    Jaguar XE

    1
  • BMW 3 Series saloon
    BMW 3 Series is priced from £24,975

    BMW 3 Series

    2
  • Ford Mondeo Titanium 180PS

    Ford Mondeo

    3
  • The 2015 Audi A4

    Audi A4

    4
  • Mercedes-Benz C-Class
    The C-Class shares a lot of its looks with the new S-Class, furthering its desirability

    Mercedes-Benz C-Class

    5

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

  • Seat Leon 1.4 EcoTSI FR Titanium
    First Drive
    27 May 2016
    High-spec new Titanium FR trim is temptingly good value, particularly on the semi-enthusiastic 1.4 EcoTSI petrol
  • Kia Niro
    First Drive
    27 May 2016
    The Kia Niro will be one of the greenest cars in the compact crossover class when it goes on sale later this year. We drive it to see what else it has to offer
  • Car review
    27 May 2016
    Can the turbocharged successor to the 458 raise the bar again?
  • Car review
    27 May 2016
    The big-in-every-way Bentley SUV lands. We assess the impact
  • Volkswagen Touran 2.0 TDI R-Line
    First Drive
    27 May 2016
    The Volkswagen Touran R-Line offers a sporty twist on the ever-sensible MPV formula. We’ve sampled the punchy 2.0-litre diesel