From £23,085
The BMW 320d ED is an ideal machine for fleet managers and tax-shy execs

Our Verdict

BMW 3-series
The 3-series remains strong in the areas it has always excelled but now it's more rounded than ever

The BMW 3-series' outstanding performance and handling complete a consummate all-rounder

What is it?

The business class 320d. The version we road tested in February is all well and good for the punters, but even as we lavished it with stars, BMW had this, the EfficientDynamics model, gently warming up in the trouser press for its corporate debut.

Despite looking for all the world like a regular 320d (there is no badging to distinguish the car from its stablemate) the ED is in fact a wheeled loophole intended to help its buyers circumvent as much of the government’s company car tax rules as possible.

It does this by playing the now-familiar technical trump card; output from the 2.0-litre diesel engine is reduced to 161bhp from 181bhp, the six-speed manual gearbox’s ratios have been lengthened, internal friction has been further reduced, ancillary power consumption has been revised and, most importantly, smaller 16-inch aerodynamic alloys have been fitter under the arches.

The result is a drop in CO2 emissions from an already impressive 120g/km to a positively tree-hugging 109g/km. Not only does this drop the ED into a lowly 15 per cent tax band under the latest rules, it also ensures that businesses which purchase outright will be able to write off 100 per cent of the cost against tax in the first year.

What’s it like?

Much as you’d expect; a BMW 320d with some of the starch taken out. Fortunately, there was such an excess of starch to begin with that there really isn’t much of a penalty to pay for the ED’s fiscal finesse.

The 20bhp reduction in power means that even in its Sport mode (BMW’s selectable Drive Performance Control comes as standard) there’s a marginal decline in top-end urgency, which translates into a half-a-second deficiency in the 0-62mph sprint.

Nevertheless, that still means that the ED is capable of breaking the tape in an athletic 8.0 seconds, and with the same 280lb ft of torque available from 1750rpm as before, the car very rarely (if ever) feels like a feeble low-emission special.

Indeed, it’s a measure of the model’s class-leading chassis credentials that nudging it into Sport remains a compelling option - one arguably bolstered by the new wheels, which with a more generous profile and no run-flat rubber, offer a further layer of polish to the 3-series’ already exemplary ride quality.

The same gently heightened sense of comfort is noticeable in the car’s default Eco Pro setting, where a remapped throttle and gearshift indicator help stretch the 320d’s claimed fuel economy from 61.4mpg to a best-in-segment 68.9mpg. (To put that in perspective, the VW Passat Bluemotion manages the same return, but only from a 1.6-litre diesel engine with just 104bhp.)

Should I buy one?

Yes, definitely. With unerring accuracy, BMW constructed an ideal (as it stands at the moment among its peers, virtually perfect) machine for fleet managers and tax-shy execs. They’ve even brought it to market at the same price as the 320d SE, and added the eight-speed automatic option which its customer base apparently craved.

However, if your pride and joy is not subject to company car rules, you should pause before jumping on the bandwagon. Certainly the drop in CO2 emissions is going to benefit you too, but only to the tune of £10 a year, and our long-term experience with the standard engine has already proven it capable of 60-plus mpg without the need to deduct any of its potential energy.

If it were our money on the line, we’d pony up an extra tenner for added thrust, prettier wheels and the quiet satisfaction of experiencing one of the decade’s finest at its undiluted best. But that’s just us.

BMW 320d EfficientDynamics

Price: £28,080; 0-62mph: 8.0 seconds; Top speed: 143mph; Economy: 68.9mpg; Co2: 109g/km; Kerbweight: 1490kg; Engine type, cc: 1995cc turbo diesel, four-cylinder; Power: 161bhp; Torque: 280lb ft; Gearbox: Six-speed manual

Read the What Car? verdict: BMW 320d EfficientDynamics

Join the debate

Comments
75

2 May 2012

Nice colour. What's up with BMW, surely a press car should be silver, or black, or white..

2 May 2012

This sounds an impressive addition with some cost benefits but I am interested to know whether in addition to the ride benefit, there is any noise benefit. Can't remember what the road test said for the cooking 320d but here's hoping.

2 May 2012

Don't get me wrong, these figures are very impressive, but I was expecting an improvement over the last one.

2 May 2012

[quote Autocar]Much as you’d expect; a BMW 320d with some of the starch taken out. Fortunately, there was such an excess of starch to begin with that there really isn’t much of a penalty to pay for the ED’s fiscal finesse.[/quote] er, what?

2 May 2012

Smaller wheels and proper tyres seem to be the most impressive bit here. I wonder how much of the CO2 improvement is down to them?

2 May 2012

Clearly their marketing department have been listening to what their customers have been telling them and produced the ideal car.

Personally does little for me but if I were a rep covering the motorways of the UK, then I'd want one too.

 

 

It's all about the twisties........

2 May 2012

".......to a best-in-segment 68.9mpg" in the real world it'll get no where near it.

One worrying fact in the review was the car now has less power and higher gear ratio's, these two facts, especially combined, usually only take away from the driving pleasure.

 

Hydrogen cars just went POP

2 May 2012

Test drove the old model about a year ago when I was due to change but the lease cost was strangely very high ,was a nice drive though and and no drive train shudder even at low revs e.g 1500-1600rpm ,on spec though didn`t come close to the CC ,I definately would take another look though...

2 May 2012

[quote Autocar]

What is it?


The business class 320d. The version we road tested in February is all well and good for the punters, but even as we lavished it with stars, BMW had this, the EfficientDynamics model, gently warming up in the trouser press for its corporate debut.



Despite looking for all the world like a regular 320d (there is no badging to distinguish the car from its stablemate) the ED is in fact a wheeled loophole intended to help its buyers circumvent as much of the governm...Read the full article

[/quote] Middle management car justification,reduce the tax bits,and hey presto....a BMW for the image seekers.

Peter Cavellini.

jer

2 May 2012

Great company car I like to sound of back to the future with the ride, wonder if the lower grip levels make for more entertainment? Having seen a few on the roads to my eyes it looks bland and similar to the last model at the rear and a 5 in profile. The new nose is marginally more distinctive but that's about it.

Pages

Add your comment

Log in or register to post comments

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

  • First Drive
    21 May 2015
    The DS 5 is hard to pigeonhole but it works as a package. Impressive French-style long-range cruiser, albeit at strong money for an unproven brand
  • Car review
    21 May 2015
    The industry's biggest power makes a plug-in hybrid for the masses
  • First Drive
    21 May 2015
    The 4C improves, and the Spider is a good conversion, but it remains dynamically troubled and absurdly expensive
  • First Drive
    21 May 2015
    More traction and nothing separating Jag's monstrous V8 mouthpiece from your ears. It's the shoutiest, priciest F-Type on sale, but is it the best?
  • First Drive
    20 May 2015
    The C63 may have lost its big V8, but its replacement makes it difficult to mourn