FAB­U­LOUS TWEAKS

NEW LINE-UP OF BMW’S MEAT-AND-VEG 3 SE­RIES WILL WORRY RI­VALS

Mt Druitt - St Mary's Standard (East) - - CARS GUIDE - Pe­ter Barn­well Call Triv­ett Clas­sic BMW, Church St, Par­ra­matta on 9841 8880.

AF­TER dab­bling last year, BMW has again re­freshed its 3 Se­ries with a (slightly) new look, new en­gines, more tech­nol­ogy and more stan­dard kit along with sharper prices on some mod­els.

The lat­est en­hance­ments in­clude a new gen­er­a­tion turbo six cylin­der petrol in the range­top­ping 340i as well as an en­try level three cylin­der turbo petrol model called the 318i.

CHOICE

TWO body styles are avail­able in the line-up – four door sedan and five door Tour­ing (wagon) – along with five en­gines: 318i three cylin­der, 320i, 320d and 330i four cylin­der 2-litres and the 340i six pot 3-litre. The 320d is a turbo diesel 2-litre.

Power and torque are up, with the 318i good for 100kW/220Nm us­ing a claimed 5.4 litres/100km.

The 320i turbo petrol achieves 135kW/270Nm and 5.8 litres/100km, the 320d diesel gen­er­ates 140kW/400Nm and gets 4.4 litres fuel econ­omy, the 330i turbo petrol ratch­ets that up to 185kW/350Nm and 5.8 litres/100km, while the 340i turbo petrol six is good for 240Kw/450Nm and 6.8 litres/100km.

The lat­ter is a com­pletely new en­gine from BMW co­de­named B58 and this is its first ap­pear­ance in a pro­duc­tion BMW. The en­gine re­tains sim­i­lar tech­nol­ogy to the pre­vi­ous 3-litre fea­tur­ing a twin scroll turbo, di­rect fuel in­jec­tion, vari­able cam tim- ing and valve lift, but hits up­com­ing Euro­pean emis­sions tar­gets and has im­pres­sive fuel ef­fi­ciency.

This places the 340i at an ad­van­tage when it comes to ap­ply­ing the Lux­ury Car Tax. Be­cause it uses less than 7 litres/100km, buy­ers pay less tax which is re­flected in the pur­chase price.

PER­FOR­MANCE

IN TERMS of per­for­mance the 340i clocks a 0-100kmh sprint in a slick 5.1 sec­onds. But even the 330i is quick at 5.8 sec­onds with the oth­ers not far be­hind.

Part of the rea­son for this is the gen­eral adop­tion of an eight­speed au­to­matic trans­mis­sion with pad­dle shift across the en­tire range, 318i triple in­cluded. A six-speed man­ual can be or­dered if re­quested.

Prices start at $54,900 for the 318i ris­ing to $89,900 for the 340i.

The Tour­ing wagon is only avail­able in 320i and 330i spec, start­ing at $65,300 for the 320i. The 330i adds eight grand.

To the ex­tra kit added across the 3-se­ries range in late 2014, the lat­est re­vamp adds LED head­lights, a more ag­gres­sive frontal look fo­cus­ing on bumper and head­lights, LED tail lights, a re­vised in­te­rior with more chrome trim, im­proved am­bi­ent light­ing, chas­sis im­prove­ments with two-way dampers on some mod­els with no com­fort com­pro­mise, sharper steer­ing and four drive modes: Eco, Com­fort, Sport and Sport+ (on the 340i.)

BMW Con­nected-Drive is added, giv­ing buy­ers more func­tion­al­ity and more dig­i­tal con­nec­tions.

DRIV­ING

WE WERE able to take the stylish, range-top­ping 340i for a spin in the NSW North Coast hin­ter­land, an im­pres­sive ex­pe­ri­ence.

The car is unashamedly a (lux­ury) sports sedan of­fer­ing up stu­pen­dous en­gine per­for­mance and sharp dy­nam­ics with a large mea­sure of com­fort thrown in.

The sound of the po­tent straight six at full throt­tle is rem­i­nis­cent of ear­lier M3s, with a metal­lic rasp pierc­ing the well-in­su­lated cabin when ap­proach­ing en­gine red­line.

Flick it into the next gear on the pad­dle shift and away it goes again with small in­cre­ments be­tween each of the eight cogs.

The han­dling and dy­nam­ics in gen­eral are right up to the en­gine with that sharp steer­ing re­sponse and well con­trolled sus­pen­sion giv­ing the 340i a rock solid feel through turns, even on poor sur­faces. Driver en­gage­ment is at a high level

Then there’s the lux­ury side of the equa­tion which leaves very lit­tle to be de­sired.

Premium au­dio, soft leather up­hol­stery, elec­tric ad­just­ment to many func­tions, multi zone cli­mate con­trol and a good help­ing of driver as­sist safety fea­tures.

The new BMW 3 Se­ries looks more ag­gres­sive, and of­fers two new en­gines at the bot­tom and top of the range.

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