Herald Sun - Motoring - - HEAD TO HEAD -


BMW hits Benz head-on thanks to the High-Line range, with plenty of fea­tures to re­flect the pres­tige badge. The 328i is a good buy though the 320i is a lot cheaper (nearly $5K) and almost as sat­is­fy­ing. Leather, satnav, nine-speaker audio and an ex­ten­sive safety kit are al­lur­ing. No capped-price ser­vice and re­sale is 57 per cent, same as the Mercedes.


Some heavy-handed de­signs pre­date this 3 Se­ries but the lat­est re­deems past in­dis­cre­tions. It’s neat, roomy (for four), has a de­cent 480L boot (a match for the Merc) and a sub­dued but highly ef­fec­tive dash­board. Good use of ma­te­ri­als — leather and gloss trim — raises the am­bi­ence. Best of all, it looks ex­pen­sive.


Tur­bocharged four-cylin­der 2.0-litre petrol en­gines are be­com­ing popular. This one (180kW/350Nm) de­liv­ers pleas­ing per­for­mance — 0-100km/h in 5.9secs and rea­son­able thirst, 6.3L/100km on 95 RON. Eight-speed auto is as smooth as sin­gle malt and rear drive en­hances han­dling. Run-flat tyres so there’s no spare (ditto Merc). Wel­come fea­tures in­clude head-up in­stru­ment dis­play.


Ger­mans love their safety and all brands sport top­shelf fea­tures. This one gets a five-star rat­ing with six airbags, tyre-pres­sure mon­i­tor, self-park­ing, lanechange warn­ing with pas­sive steer­ing, sur­round cam­era with front and rear park sen­sors, col­li­sion warn­ing with lowspeed brak­ing and bi-xenon head­lights with auto-on func­tion.


Feels as dy­namic as a sports car. The en­gine is sparkling in its re­sponse — though still a bit harsh — and the eight cogs slide up and down with seam­less ease. It’s quick but more im­pres­sive is the han­dling and the sense that it’s on rails. But it’s tai­lored more for the sporty driver and could be a bit more com­fort­able.

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