The BMW 3-series' outstanding performance and handling complete a consummate all-rounder
First DriveNew plug-in hybrid 3-series is claimed to return up to 131mpg with CO2 emissions of 50g/km
First DrivePractical 3-series estate loses some of the saloon’s edge, but engine and transmission impress with controlled pace and economy
What is it?
A (very) mild set of revisions for the high-flying 3-series. BMW reckons the current model is a good enough seller to warrant only mild styling modifications and spec tinkering.
So the 320d Touring’s basic qualities are retained in this revised version; BMW’s 2.0-litre oil-burner produces 174bhp and 258lb ft, but thanks to the firm’s Efficient Dynamics tech, it now returns 57.6mpg on the combined cycle and emits 130g/km of CO2.
The visual changes are almost all outside, with revised front and rear lights and bumpers, side skirts that BMW claim ‘play with the light’ to change the car’s side profile and extra creases in the bonnet.
You do get a few extra toys for your money; SE models now come with 17in alloys as standard, for example. But unless you spec BMW’s new, improved sat-nav and iDrive system, it’s hard to see much difference inside.
What’s it like?
Unsurprisingly familiar. Which is to say the 320d still feels rapid enough when it needs to be, refined enough the rest of the time and nicely balanced throughout.
Heavy, grainy steering and a positive gearshift help the process, and BMW does seem to have made another step in ride refinement on run-flat rubber (this is presumably down to further work on tyres rather than any great change in suspension set-up).
The engine is happy to be revved hard up to its peak power point of 4000rpm, although it tightens up soon afterwards.
And at motorway speeds it’s virtually inaudible; you’re more likely to be disturbed by wind noise from around the door mirrors or road noise from those run-flats than any diesel rumble.
Should I buy one?
A series of sensible revisions have sharpened up the 3 in the sort of intelligent manner you’d expect from BMW.
If you’re looking for a compact executive with low running costs and a bit more practicality than the saloon then the 320d Touring remains an almost irresistible choice.