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BMW 3 Series Review: The BMW 320D Review: Evil Ride

The BMW 320D Review: Evil Ride

By Aditya Chatterjee; 2nd June, 2012
Introduction

The BMW 320D Review: Evil Ride 

BMW has established itself as a renowned luxury car maker in India. They have constantly kept up with the rapidly developing Indian automobile industry. The Indian portfolio of this famed German car maker has a varied range, ranging from high end Cars to the entry level luxury ones.

India is no longer a country, where mass car manufacturers hold the edge over niche luxury car makers. It's all about over the edge action for all the car makers in India.

BMW 3 Series

Competitive spirit has seeped in across all car segments such as the hatchback, SUV or the luxury sedan range. The German trio of BMW, Audi and Mercedes Benz are battling fiercely to secure the mantle of the highest selling luxury car maker in India.

BMW has resorted to an aggressive strategic outlook of making the brand more affordable for its enthusiasts. As its brand visibility increases the aspiration factor would also strengthen. Endorsing the same with the X1, BMW made a very strong statement of intent.

Coming to the entry level luxury sedan fight, Audi recently unveiled the revamped A4 and Mercedes Benz C Class got an upgrade last year. BMW too will be getting the sixth generation 2012 3 series to replace the present E90 series.

We decide to review the present generation 3 series, which is sold in India to assess its existence amidst the recent new launches in its category.  

Exterior

The design of BMW 320D seems was not done in the most calm and composed manner. The designers didn't have the patience to make a serene looking sedan and instead they went ahead with more aggressive lines. The in-motion-when-in-standstill treatment is evident throughout with the lines racing against each other on the body of the car.

BMW 3 Series

It is very obvious on why the Beemer attracts and connects with the youth so instantly as the overall design of the car is meant to attract and pull all the performance enthusiasts, something that Mercedes-Benz lacks and rightly so as the Merc endorses elegance, manners and etiquettes until you decide to dig deep in your pockets, rob a bank or convince some Sheikh in Middle East to gift you the AMG series.

Normally, I love the blacks and greys on premium cars but then this one came in Vermillion Redreminded me of the BMW Zagato Coupe. I must say it stood out in traffic and in a very stylish way. Initially, I was not too happy about getting a dynamic edition, which lacks all the pampering but then as I drove through the streets of Mumbai with those corona rings as day time running lights, the 320 lured everyone's attention. The 320 looks as if it's always ready to get clicked. Hogging on all the attention possible, it strikes a very racy stance on the street and makes anyone inside look like a celebrity.

The front face, which sports the corona rings, has standard bi-xenon lamps, which also double up as the day-time running lights. The front profile looks more chiseled than the earlier generation models. It sports a very prominent V-Styling on the front face. The restyled dual section kidney grille makes the 3 series very similar to its elder siblings. The lower jaw, which has also been improved blends very nicely and also, has the V-styling on it.

Something that impresses me about the front profile of 3 series is that it is very tightly designed. One won't find anything out of proportion or out of place. All the elements are very much confined in a solid boundary. The long hood has a strong central V-rib that starts from the centrally placed logo and runs along till the end. The side profile boasts of many characteristic lines running across the profile. The most typical of it is the sharp wedge line that runs from the from wheel fender to the rear tail lamps. Even the outer mirrors had been restyled; these mirrors too have profile lines on them. The side skirts too endorse the sportiness of the sedan, as they get nicely camouflaged near the rear wheel fender.

BMW 3 Series

It's an outright performance sedan and its styling too elaborates it. The V-spoked alloys with 205/55 R16 tyres add on to the sportiness. Personally, I preferred the V-spoked design of alloys more than the Star spoked version, which comes on the highline. Lesser the number of spokes more racy it looks and also it gives a very muscular charachter to the entire styling.

The boot comes with a spoiler like lip on it. The tail lamps are traditional but have a modern styling to it with variation of lines on the tail lights. The rear tail lights are L shaped and come with LEDs for directional indicators. Again the chrome lettering of 320D in italics appears very racy. Chrome tipped exhaust concludes the rear very well. The BMW scores superbly over the Mercedes in design. Unlike the Mercedes Benz C Class, where the front design is exciting but the rear doesn't do justice at all clubbed with those boxy outer rear view mirrors, the 3 series is very uniform in design and maintains the same aggression throughout.

So the 3 series has a wild flair and it beats the C Class in looks hands down? If you choose to spend your leisure time with friends enjoying the adrenaline rush of Horse racing over some calm golf match, your cheque should be in the favor of the Bayerische option. These two cars are very different in characteristics while the 3 series is a young and glamorous ride the C class is more matured and elegant in its behavior. The 3 series is so restless that if the cars could talk, the C Class would have said "You are young blood now, eventually you will get matured and be like me". 

BMW 3 Series

Interior

The exteriors can be summed up by the word performance. Superb exteriors had raised all my expectations with this entry level Beemer. I was super excited to get inside and get a feel of it. Mentally, I was this suave undercover agent as soon as I had got the car and hoped in with all the necessary style and attitude.

BMW 3 Series

Sadly, the interiors could not hold my expectations for long and at this very moment I was missing the C Class Avantgarde that we had reviewed earlier. The interior of the BMW 320D CE lacks the sophistication of the C Class not marginally but with a good difference. Some may argue and justify that the BMW is more of a driver's car than an owner's car so the level of interiors is fine.

The Highline version of the 320D packs in some more goodies compared to the 320D CE (Corporate Edition). The steering wheel is equipped with Media controls, Phone pairing option and the voice activation system. The flowing lines along the edges of the spokes on the steering look good. However, the one on C Class scores more points on the style criteria. Also, the steering on our car was mechacnically ajustable.

The fit and finish of the buttons are typical BMW with high quality material used for the interiors. Initially, I mentioned about the interiors lacking sophistication but then the simple aesthetic treatment on the interiors is not disappointing.

The twin cluster instrumental panel engulfed in silver rings and with white needles for the speedo-tacho arrangement as well as for the fuel tank and fuel consumption. All the necessary information regarding the Tripmeter, Fuel to empty tank, Fuel consumption can be toggled through by a click on the lever to the left of the steering wheel.

The grainy ebony black dashboard flows elegantly and without being too loud and being a space hogger. A dark glossy panel runs along the width just under the dashboard, an elegant touch to the interiors. This panel houses the air-conditioner vents along with the matte chrome finished shimmers for the Start/Stop button.The touch and feel of the buttons on the central console with circular knobs for operating the air-conditioner are nice. The rear wind shield sunscreen pops out through a button on the central panel.

BMW 3 Series

Also affixed on the central console is a big 8.8inch display. It is located very nicely and is very convenient for the driver and the co passenger to operate. This screen is the display for the iDrive operating system. The iDrive is basically an entertainment, information and telecommunication browser. The most interesting part is the iDrive controller, which can be operated through an easy permutation of clicks and twists. Browsing through the different menus is very easy and lucid. At any point one can go through the vehicle information on the fuel efficiency, Distance to empty in a split screen on the 8.8inch display . An important element is the direct selection buttons for CD, Radio and Phone and a dedicated Back and Option button. The resolution rate of the 8.8inch display is also very high so one can just pull over and catch a movie on it.

Music for me is very important and the iDrive saved the hassles of carrying pen drives as it has a 80GB on board hard drive. So just pair your flash drive with it through the iDrive controller and all your data/music gets transferred on board.

The seats, covered in Dakota leather are very comfortable. They come with personalization options too; one can store two settings of the seat position in the auto memory. The back support and the thigh support are effective indeed and one feels totally in a cocoon once seated in the driver's seat. The seats are electrically adjustable and even for tall well built guys (by well built I mean healthy guys too) there is no discomfort. The headroom and legroom for the front row passengers is superb.

As the earlier paragraph ended "The headroom and legroom for the front row passengers is superb", it is true only if you decide not to allow anyone to sit behind. The rear seats continue the comfort factor but then the 3 series is totally a miser of all sorts in offering legroom. This was a big issue, while we were clicking the images of the front cock-pit seated at the rear. But this is not just the Beemer, the C Class too doesn't score any points in this. The driver has to be really short for the rear passengers to enjoy some decent legroom.

BMW 3 Series

The sandy interiors went really well with the contrasting exterior colour. All the lines on the interior are very subtle. They don't pull your attention but then still one can't ignore their presence. The twisted aluminum door locks and the material used in door trims were good. Something that was an obstacle to the good lines on the door was the position of the speakers on the front doors. One wanders on what are those speakers doing there?.

If you want to find out the real quality and finishing of the car, the best area to find it out is the ABC area (Accelerator, Break and Clutch), which for an automatic is the AB area. The pedals on this suit all types of feets also one can see dead pedal too, great comfort on long drives when switched on the Cruise Control.

Storage options in the cabin space include a glove box on the dashboard which could gulp in the owner's kit only with some other petty documents. I had wished some space for my mini laptop to slide inside the glove box but then the owner's kit bullied the lappy out. Also, on the front dashboard are the Push-and-slide out cup holders. The one for the co-passenger come straight out while the one for the driver turns and comes out. So according to BMW, the driver has to twist and put the mug to his left, don't think that is too comforting.

The slits on the door trims with different compartments in it, impressive. Under the armrest for the front row, is the USB plug-in and some intermittent storage. In the rear section, the armrest comes with push and pull cup holders.

BMW 3 Series

A boot space of 460 liters is too good. It makes sure you pack in all the relevant and irrelevant things and shoot off for a nice weekend trip. In case you open the boot and find the spare tyre missing, do not make a panic call because it has run-flats. There must be some reason why Mr.Bond used the BMW before the Aston; perhaps he transported the bad guys inside the boot.

One would find me all floored with the exteriors but not too much with the interiors of this vehicle. I am not whining about the interiors, the reason being it's a very driver centric car. It is what a Skoda is to its segment. The interiors are very features oriented. Also, we were reviewing the humble dynamic edition so the highline must be more souped up. Just thinking of the Dynamic Edition, the Honda Accord looks more sophisticated than it.

Performance

The present generation BMW 320D is powered by a 4 cylinder 1995cc turbocharged third generation CRDi engine which produces a power of 184bhp at 4000 rpm and a torque a 380Nm at 1750-3000 rpm. The official figures claim an acceleration timing of 7.6 seconds for 0-100 km/h and a maximum speed of 233kmph. It has got a 6 speed automatic transmission.

BMW 3 Series

Inside the cabin, the comfort is good. The Air-Conditioners are fantastic and don't take much time to transform the cabin into Antarctica. In fact, the cabin was our ideal hangout in between breaks during the shoot. The rear passengers get their own AC vents too. The front row of passengers get a standard 2 zone air conditioning.

The music system is very good. The entertainment factor of the 3 series is superb. The iDrive clubbed with the speaker setup and the 8.8 inch display screen is a great entertainment package. Browsing through the different genres of music to different radio stations, the iDrive controller makes it very active. One can also change the tracks with the help of the controls given on the steering wheel.

The leather of the seats and all other buttons and equipments are very nice to touch. This quality is shared across all the models. Even the interior styling remains same as compared to its bigger sibling, the 5 series. I personally would give the C Class bit more marks compared to the 3 series in the comfort and luxury feel.

The above is a description of the 3 series in a standstill. Though, we can't just be looking and feeling the car only and thus our very own test track for this car was the Nasik Mumbai highway.

BMW 3 Series

Nasik, situated at around 200kms from Mumbai is a very laid back city compared to the hustling Mumbai. It grows onions, grapes and Scorpios (not the one with legs but the one that Mahindra makes). It is also famous for its vineries and long stretches of roads.

On a sunny afternoon, under the super grilling sun we raced our blazing red 320D on the Nasik Mumbai highway. It is a very good testing track as normally in the afternoons there is very less traffic . Reaching the triple digits and travelling at it did not take even the slightest of efforts. The gear ratios are very balanced. The strength of this motor is its mid-range torque delivery but it remains meaty at top end revs as well. One can squeeze out the maximum torque till 3000 rpm after that there is a sudden drop till 3250 rpm.

The power delivery is very linear in nature and that's the best. Overtaking on the highways is not at all difficult. The gears fall in place at the right time. In case you still in mood for some high-performance driving, shift the gear stick a little left and there you are all set to unveil the beastly side of this wild ride. The super performing motor, awesome shifts and the red color are the perfect combination for it to be a getaway car. If you manage to run in a bunch of bad guys who are chasing you and trying to shoot you, just shift it into manual shift, switch off the traction control and drift your way out with an evil smirk.

The performance of the diesel engine scores impressively over its petrol counterpart. Not that it's just a highway happy car but then even in city traffic the motor performs excellently. Its dimensions and the engine make it a very peppy sedan. This luxury sedan is a very practical everyday transport solution too.

BMW 3 Series

Handling is tight with the sporty steering wheel. There is no body roll of any sort and instead one feels very much in control even at high speeds. The suspensions though breaks the fantasy world. It is very stiff. Now for Mr.Bond it is OK as he does not have a dedicated office commute, he would use his BMW for an occasional chase sequence and other action needs. The stiff suspensions can be a bit of mood spoiler but then it has a silver lining to it. It is the cornering capability of these stiff suspensions, which is amazing. The ghat section travel was the best ever in this car. I was so intrigued with the cornering quality of the 3 series that I chose all the twisty sections over the straight ones.

It is not just a poser car with high performance styling. The performance qualities that BMW has been famous for is carried on this one too with its superb weight distribution. Braking on the 3 series makes you feel super confident for those last minute maneuvers.

The 3 series also makes use of Efficient Dynamics which controls the fuel consumption. It makes driving an intelligent experience by regulating the fuel flow according to the different driving styles. The best mileage figure that we got on the 320D is 13 kmpl and the worst was 10kmpl. 

Tech specs
Technical Specifications
 Make BMW
 Model 320D
Variant
Engine Capacity (cc) 1995
Power (PS/RPM) 177/4000
Torque (NM/RPM) 380/2750
Dimensions in mm
Ground clearence
Length  4531
Width 2013
Height 1421
Wheel Base 2760
Claimed fuel efficiency in KMPL 16
Tyre size 205/55 R16
Top speed KMPH 233
Curb weight Kgs. 1445
Tank capacity in Liters 61
Features
Features 320D 320D Dynamic 320D Exclusive
Automatic transmission with steptronic Yes Yes Yes
Central locking with immobiliser and crash sensor Yes Yes Yes
Dakota Leather upholstery No No Yes
Fog lights Yes Yes Yes
Glass roof, electric No No Yes
Sports leather steering wheel Yes Yes Yes
Multifunction steering wheel Yes Yes Yes
Rain and light sensor Yes Yes Yes
Park distance control, rear Yes Yes Yes
Electric seat adjustment with memory for driver seat No Yes Yes
HiFi loudspeaker system No No Yes
iDrive package No No Yes
CD changer for 6 CD No No Yes
Driver and front passanger airbag Yes Yes Yes
Head airbag front to rear Yes Yes Yes
Side airbag driver and front passanger Yes Yes Yes
Cornering Brake Control Yes Yes Yes
Dynamic stability control Yes Yes Yes
Dynamic traction control Yes Yes Yes
Run flat tyres Yes Yes Yes
Trim finisher black high gloss Yes Yes Yes
Fire wood trim Bamboo Grain Antracite No No Yes
Competition
Specifications
BMW
Audi
Mercedes Benz
Skoda
Variant 320D Corporate A4 4.2 TDI Multitronic C 250 CDI Superb 2.0 TDI CR A
Ex Show room price Mumbai in lakh 22.5 31.48 33.75 23.07
Engine Capacity (cc) 1995 1968 2143 1968
Power (PS/RPM) 177/4000 140/4800 204/4200 140/4200
Torque (NM/RPM) 380/2750 320/2500 500/1600 320/2500
Dimensions in mm
Length 4531 4703 4590 4838
Width 2013 1826 1770 1817
Height 1421 1427 1447 1482
Wheel Base 2760 2808 2760 2761
Claimed fuel efficiency in KMPL 16 12 12 14
Tyre size 205/55 R16 205/60 R16 225/45 R17 205/55 R16
Top speed KMPH 233 200 225 200
Kerb weight 1445 1610 1655 1608
Tank capacity in Liters 61 65 66 60
Key Features
Automatic airconditioning Yes Yes Yes Yes
Automatic transmission with steptronic Yes Yes Yes Yes
Central locking with immobiliser and crashsensor Yes Yes Yes Yes
Leather upholstery No Yes Yes Yes
Fog lights Yes Yes Yes Yes
Sports leather steering wheel Yes Yes Yes Yes
Multifunction steering wheel Yes Yes Yes Yes
Rain and light sensor Yes Yes Yes Yes
Park distance control, rear Yes Yes Yes Yes
Electric seat adjustment with memory for driverseat No Yes Yes Yes
HiFi loudspeaker system No Yes Yes Yes
CD changer for 6 CD No Yes Yes Yes
Driver and front passanger airbag Yes Yes Yes Yes
Head airbag front to rear Yes Yes Yes Yes
Side airbag driver and front passanger Yes Yes Yes Yes
Cornering Brake Control Yes Yes Yes Yes
Dynamic stability control Yes Yes Yes Yes
Dynamic traction control Yes Yes Yes Yes
Conclusion

So if you are looking for a performance luxury sedan, the 320D can be the perfect solution. It may not be a very great owner's car but then if you enjoy driving and love to live it in the fast lane, the 320D should quench all your need for speed.

The D especially since petrol prices are marching upwards so it makes more sense to go for the diesel. In that way your performance wishes won't burn up your pocket completely.

BMW 3 Series

The next generation BMW 3 series is just a few months away. The F30 which succeeds the E90 promises of a very chiseled styling than the curves and turns of this one. The corona rings have been restyled and joined with the kidney grille. The entire arrangement makes the car look wider. Call me old school but I still am not too impressed with the 2012 styling.

As for the competition on who is the mightiest luxury sedan manufacturer, there is only one winner and that is the consumer. 

BMW 3 Series