From £24,800
The BMW 320d is better than ever: sharper, smoother and its convenience heightened.

Our Verdict

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Richard Bremner Autocar
30 January 2012

What is it?

Step straight from an outgoing BMW 320d M Sport into this new-generation 320d Sport, and it’s easy to see that BMW has tackled the three weakest areas of the old model with some success.

What’s it like?

First, the ride. True, the test car came optionally kitted with the adaptive M Sport suspension that does a fine job of smothering bumps, but equally it rides on 50-section run-flat tyres, and even in the firmer Sport and Sport Plus modes it delivers a fluency of motion that you simply won’t experience in the old M Sport 320d. The gearchange has improved too, from being springily obstructive to smooth-moving and compliant when warm.

More subtle – though not when it fails you for the umpteenth time – is a sat nav that picks more intelligent routes and manages to serve instructions before you get there rather than just as you’re driving by it. Day-to-day, that makes a difference.

BMW’s 2.0 181bhp TwinPower diesel serves up the same impressive blend of sporting performance and heart-warming economy, mileage in the high 40s a certainty with 50mpg-plus a real possibility, especially when you engage the Eco-pro mode and follow its advice. If all this sounds a bit worthy, well, keen drivers will almost instantly notice the sharper steering, this 3 Series changing direction with the agility of a cat on the run but without any of the nervous darting. It rounds corners with such ease that it makes the outgoing model feel slightly slow-witted, though it’s hardly that.

All of which makes the 320d feel a more polished machine than the last, good though that was.

Should I buy one?

Usefully, it’s also a little roomier too. Still, it’s not all perfect. The light, background grumblings of the diesel are beginning to sound slightly uncouth compared to VW’s latest 2.0 TDI, the driver’s seat is only slightly less fiddly to adjust than before - and still denies you standard-fit lumbar adjustment - and some may consider the Sport’s cabin décor a bit disco. But that’s largely it, this latest 320d proving to be a mightily accomplished car.

BMW 320d Sport saloon

Price: £29,080; Top speed: 146mph; 0-62mph: 7.5sec; Economy: 61.4mpg; Co2: 120g/km; Kerbweight: 1495kg; Engine: 4-cyls in-line, 1995cc; Power: 181bhp at 4000rpm; Torque: 280lb ft at 1750-2750rpm; Gearbox: 6-spd manual.

Join the debate

Comments
60

31 January 2012

Better to 'go ugly' and get an S-Drive X1 with the same engine but more basic, less "disco" interior and save £5k or more. Plus it rides more softly on the standard 17"s.

31 January 2012

At last!!! A review of a new BMW which doesn't contradict the 'first drive' from a few weeks ago...

It must be a good car because all he can really fault is non standard lumbar support and fidly seat adjustments...i can't wait for a go in one next week :-)

31 January 2012

[quote julianphillips]disco" interior[/quote] oh come on...we all like a bit of a disco don't we??!!!

personally, i like the interior. the one i sat in 2 weeks ago at the launch had the 'disco' red stripe across the dash and very nice it was too!

31 January 2012

I think this is the best all-round car for so many people, most of the time! Would love to test-drive one!

The comments section needs a makeover... how about a forum??

31 January 2012

[quote julianphillips]Better to 'go ugly' and get an S-Drive X1 [/quote]

No thanks this 320 is quite ugly enough both inside and out to scare me away from my local BMW dealership. Shame about the looks as no doubt a fine car underneath.

31 January 2012

[quote mike_d_dunn]No thanks this 320 is quite ugly enough both inside and out to scare me away from my local BMW dealership. Shame about the looks as no doubt a fine car underneath[/quote] give it a chance! in the metal it's very handsome...just out of curiosity, which four door sloon do you like the look of?? personally, only the c class equals it on outside looks alone...

31 January 2012

120g CO2 and 7.5s 0-62 - wow!

31 January 2012

I really like the headlamp/grille arrangement on this 3 series, I think its one of BMWs best at the moment. Considering how closely together they were released its a shame they didn't try harder and do something similar with the 1 series, the front end of the latter looks like a complete rush job

31 January 2012

Looks are a totally subjective il sole and each to his own, but personally I think the c class, A4 and S60 are all far more appealing than the 3 series.

31 January 2012

[quote il sole][quote mike_d_dunn]No thanks this 320 is quite ugly enough both inside and out to scare me away from my local BMW dealership. Shame about the looks as no doubt a fine car underneath[/quote] give it a chance! in the metal it's very handsome...just out of curiosity, which four door sloon do you like the look of?? personally, only the c class equals it on outside looks alone...[/quote]

Volvo S80, the design is now 6 years old and still looks fresh, and IMO from certain angles the new 5 series is very similar

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