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 100 RON. It doesn’t bother me as I find Malaysia’s gas reasonably priced but surely the cheaper the better. Before it gets seriously expensive, try experiencing a V8 before it's all too late.

 

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 somewhat 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.

 

But then, I hate diesel engines. I dislike the sound they make and what 's more, fumes that come smell awful. Worst of all, sounds a diesel engine produce would have alerted your enemy before you have the chance to run them over.

PRO

Excellent gear shifts

Ingenious iDrive

Economical

CON

Rides a tad harsh

Road noise

SPECIFICATION

2-litre 4-cylinder
184hp 380Nm
8-speed ZF
0-100 km/h: 7.4 s
Top speed: 230 km/h

RM 248,800

F30 FRONT

Unsurprisingly BMW makes good diesel blocks where they've even made one with three turbos. They certainly got my attention when the F30 320d shares a near identical 0-100 km/h and top speed figures to its petrol counterpart. Both having 2-litre engines, both being turbo charged but the diesel one weights more.

 

Instead of a Alfa Romeo Guilietta which would be perfect for South of France, I chose a 320d. Reason being, the F30 is newer, gives more range and most of all I wanted to know if 3 series is still king.

bmw 3 side

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. What I'm most impressed with is 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.

3 series interior
3 series interior

Let's start off with the Comfort mode. Well.. it is what you get when you push for ignition. The steering is alright, so is 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 BMWs of old. On a two-kilometer straight, I went all out and the result was a little disappointing.

3 series front

The fault might be 220 kg worth of passengers or 184hp and 380Nm of torque. If my memory did 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.

The feeling of dissatisfaction is mostly due to have failed to scare anyone on board on those skinny French roads. The 320d riding on 17-inch run-flat tyres corners flat in corners 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 they will last.

bmw 3 back

Then again, people who buy diesel are all in for the economy and the 320d does it extremely well. This is where EcoPro did most of the job whereby the journey only costed 130 Euros to do 700 kilometres of 11 summer days. Furthermore, the 8-speed automatics in all BMW are impressive as they don't hesitate in choosing gears. The ZF box is I dare say as good as a double clutch unit and much better in traffic.

 

Lastly, the latest generation of iDrive is quite magnificent. Its interface is user-friendly whereby learning curve is only a few uses away.

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