The BMW 3 Series has long been the backbone of the German brand. Since 1975 there’s been a total of seven-generations of the mid-sized luxury sedan. These days with the rise of SUV and utes it’s reasonably rare we get a chance to drive an actual sedan. We’ve just spent a week in the BMW 320d and enjoyed every second in it.
What is it?
Car designers use some whacky terms to describe cars, for example the BMW 3 Series is a typical three-box design. This means there’s three distinct spaces, the bonnet, the cabin and the boot. In other words, a sedan. I only say that because many brands are moving away from this type of styling. Instead we are seeing the emergence of Fastbacks and Sportbacks, which see a sloping roof-line from the B-pillar back.
Thankfully BMW retains the three-box design, to do otherwise would be an atrocity. Look at the new Holden Commodore for example.
There was once a time when the 3 series was regarded as a compact sedan. However, these days it’s actually 76mm longer and 16mm wider than it’s predecessor let alone the models way back in 1975. We could really get into the nitty gritty, but it’s substantially bigger in just about every area. This is why I think it’s a very attractive car, those lines, creases and revised kidney grill are quite striking. It’s an evolution of the previous model no doubt, but the new form is stunning.
The interior has been spruced with a more digital vibe, such as the instrument cluster and tablet style infotainment system. But they haven’t gone too far, some would argue brands like Audi have. I don’t subscribe to that theory, but if you’re after a somewhat more classical interior then take a look at the 3 Series. The 320d is the entry level variant for the range, which means there’s a diesel up front.
Behind the wheel
Occasionally I allow our Dictator Trevor Long into my review cars. As a previous owner I think he’s qualified to comment on the 320d. So here we go.
Look, it should be noted that I may approach this with a level of cognitive bias, I owned a 318i in 2000, and went on to trade that for my second one just a couple of years late. I do love the way a BMW drives.
Those days are behind me now with family filling larger cars. So, I’ve got to say this was a joy to get behind the wheel of.
Firstly outside, the looks hit the spot. I think BMW lost its way with the fifth and sixth generation 3 series, this brings it all back. All is forgiven.
Behind the wheel is smooth, yet direct, and all the feeling I remember and expect of BMW. If Bowen didn’t tell me it was a diesel I wouldn’t have known, it’s so refined
But the best thing for me is the tech – wireless Apple CarPlay. A joy. So cool, so easy. Why a car has wireless charging but cabled CarPlay I don’t know – this BMW is the gold standard, wireless charging with wireless CarPlay.
At a price that sits alongside the Tesla Model 3, it’s making me realise there’s a reason I didn’t buy a Tesla, and it’s not just that I can’t afford it – it’s because cars like this 320d exist.
I second all of that but for me it’s immediately obvious there’s an oil burner under the bonnet. Which is not a bad thing at all, because as Trev says it’s very refined. In fact, many European turbo-diesels out do their petrol counterparts, especially when it comes to fuel economy. It’s a shame they will all be banned one day anyway.
The 320d is powered by a four-cylinder turbo diesel, the out puts are handy with 140kW and 400Nm of torque. Power as it’s always been is sent to the rear wheels via an eight-speed automatic.
The 320d is loaded with safety tech but I want to drill down on an issue I simply don’t understand. BMW’s iDrive is excellent, there’s no escaping that fact. But BMW is also happy to offer Apple CarPlay but at this stage only via an initial 12-month subscription.
All BMW’s now come standard with it but initially you’re offered a 12-month subscription for $179.00 with a $1 free month trial. But after the 12-months you’re faced with three years for $479.00 or a lifetime subscription for $639.00.
Now as Trevor Long showcased in this video BMW offer the best CarPlay experience because it’s wireless. But I will never understand why BMW do this. I’m almost certain Apple don’t receive a cent. Check out the link for yourself, it’s mind-boggling, But then things get complicated. Via the BMW ConnectedDrive portal there’s any number of add ons and packages, deciphering it would give an aspro a headache.
The 320d model kicks off at $67,900 before on-roads. Fuel consumption is rated at 6.4L/100km, we averaged mid 7’s.
Why would you buy one?
I assume most people are simply upgrading from a previous generation model, just like Trev did until he was placed under the marriage thumb.
The BMW 320d has all the hallmarks the brand has long been associated with. Luxury, precision craftsmanship , excellent dynamics and the allure of that famous roundel. It’s an 8.1 out of 10 from me.
Chris is EFTM’s Motoring Editor, driving everything from your entry level hatch to the latest Luxury cars through to the Rolls Royce.
He has been in the media for 20 years, produced three Olympic games broadcasts, attending Beijing 2008 & London 2012.
Strangely he owns a Toyota Camry Hybrid, he defiantly rejects the knockers.
Chris is married to Gillian and resides in Sydney’s North West. They have Sam the English Springer Spaniel and Felix the Burmese cat to keep them company, and recently welcomed baby Henry to the family.