BEHIND THE WHEEL: BMW 320d
WEDNESDAY JULY 9, 2014
People seem to be upset with the fuel prices going up by 20 cent for the 95 and 15 for the 97 because what authority should actually be doing is to introduce 98RON. It doesn’t bother me as I find Malaysia’s gas is still… reasonably priced but surely the cheaper the better. Before it gets way too expensive which is the case for many places on Earth, get a V8 engine if your pocket allows.
For the times I’ve been in northern New Zealand and western France, fuel is quite expensive as diesel itself would cost over 5 ringgit and petrol being a ringgit more. That made me slightly concerned for fuel economy which led me to think of the goodness of diesel engines. Yes one more isn’t that much but diesel grants you more miles. Then again, I hate diesel engines. I dislike the sound they make and what more, the fumes that comes smell awful. Worst of all, the diesel engines produce would have alerted your enemy before you have the chance to run them over.
Excellent gear shifts
Rides a tad harsh
0-100 km/h: 7.4 s
Top speed: 230 km/h
Unsurprisingly BMW makes very good diesel blocks where there's one with three turbos strapped onto it. They got my attention when the F30 320d shares a near identical 0-100 km/h and top speed figures with a petrol 320i. Both having 2-litre engines, both being turbo charged and the diesel one probably weights just a little more. Instead of a Guilietta from Alfa Romeo that I always wanted for the South of France, I chose a 320d instead. Partly that the F30 is still relatively new, partly because it returns good mileage and most of all I wondered if the new 3 series is still best in class.
For a start, some of the diesel rattle could be heard from the inside so by turning on the air conditioning, the clatter will be muffled. I wasn't expecting much from the rented car but it came equipped with Navigation system Professional that's got lots of buttons on the iDrive controller, 12GB hard drive, 8.8" screen and real-time traffic navigation with 3D maps. What I'm most impressed with was the BMW Assist where you could just tell the lady behind the screen where you would like to go and boom! Very much like a genie, only better.
Let's start off with the Comfort mode. Well.. it is what you get when you push for ignition. The steering is alright, so as the throttle and same goes for the rest of the car which is fine but by no means sporty. Then there is the EcoPro mode which blunts everything in the name of fuel saving. So what's reserved for the Sports mode? When I finally found some straights in Roussilon, I finally got to push for Sports where it promises to tighten everything which it did but sadly not to my liking. Surely the electric powered steering became heavier and more responsive but nothing close to what BMW's used to manufacture. On a two-kilometer straight, I went all out and the result was frankly disappointing.
The fault might be 220 kg worth of passengers or 184hp and 380Nm of torque. If my memory have not failed me, 7.5 seconds to a hundred felt slow and what came after that was even slower. Or was the diesel at fault? Truth be told, the numbers look adequate for an everyday car but I honestly expect more because I am feeling slightly disappointed to report that I've failed to scare anyone on board on those skinny French roads. The 320d corners pretty flat in corners riding on 17 incher run-flat tyres but the ride is still harsh and evident road noise can be jarring. My final dislike may be due to the trim that the car was presented in but the leather and plastics on the inside is rough but it'll last.
Then again, people who buy diesel are all in for the economy and the 320d does it extremely well. This is where the EcoPro did most of the job whereby the journey didn't cost more than 130 Euros to travel an estimated 700 kilometres in the South of France for 11 days of summer. What's more is that the 8-speed automatics in all BMWs today are absolutely brilliant as it never once did hesitated to pick a gear. The ZF box is I dare say as good as a double clutch one and much better than a PDK on low speeds. Finally, the latest generation of iDrive is simply magnificent. Its interface is so user-friendly that I got acquainted in the matter of hours. If the iDrive is still too much to handle, you've got to get yourself checked.