22 January 2004

BMW has confirmed that it will strengthen both its three and five-series line ups this March. Among the new arrivals will be a new 525d to sit below the 3.0-litre oil burner, a new entry-level 3-series coupé, and the long-awaited M3-like diesel, the 330Cd.

In acknowledgement of the huge demand for its new diesel five, the new smaller capacity 525d will broaden the choice for prospective buyers. Priced at £28,050 in SE form, it represents a saving of nearly three thousand pounds on the 530d. However, producing 177bhp and 294lbs ft of torque, it’s less than a second slower to 62mph than its bigger brother, and lacks just 15mph at the top end. Returning even more frugal fuel concumption than the three-litre, and qualifying for a lower carbon dioxide-calculated tax bracket, it should be a cheaper prospect to run into the bargain.

Turning to the three-series, BMW will also augment choice by extending its new ES specification to the coupé lineup. The 318 Ci ES will be the new entry-level coupé, costing £20,995. This is a £1930 saving over the SE-equipped version, and includes sports suspension, 16” alloy wheels, a dash-mounted CD player and an M Division-styled steering wheel.

However, the biggest arrival this March will be the car that performance fans have been waiting on for a year or more; the 330Cd. Featuring the same three-litre common-rail turbodiesel found in the saloon and touring models, and with more torque than the range-topping M3, it’s capable of sixty-two mph from rest in a shade over seven seconds, and 150mph, as well as returning 42mpg on the combined cycle. In £31,325 coupé guise, equipped in sports trim, it’ll feature an M-inspired exterior styling kit, 18” M Sport alloy wheels, and sports suspension and seats.

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