Top per­for­mance from se­ries se­quel

Pilbara News - - Motoring - Derek Og­den

Even for mo­tor­ing jour­nal­ists, Euro­pean lux­ury cars are a lux­ury.

When the ini­tial adu­la­tion wears off, fa­mil­iar­ity sets in.

Some ve­hi­cles, how­ever, hold some­thing in re­serve to keep an au­to­mo­tive world-weary scribe in­ter­ested.

Such a car came into my pos­ses­sion re­cently. With time, the BMW 320d could quite eas­ily have be­come a Euro Camry. It didn’t.

The lat­est it­er­a­tion fea­tures sharper ex­te­rior de­sign, the in­te­rior uses new ma­te­rial to cre­ate a pre­mium im­pres­sion, er­gonomics have been up­graded and ad­vances in BMW Ef­fi­cient-Dy­nam­ics tech­nol­ogy have led to gains in per­for­mance, ef­fi­ciency and car­bon emis­sions across range.

Af­ter 40 years, with about 14 mil­lion ex­am­ples de­liv­ered to cus­tomers, the 3 Se­ries now ac­counts for a quar­ter of BMW sales world­wide. In Aus­tralia, more than 110,000 3 Se­ries mod­els were sold in the past five years.

Of the seven vari­ants, in Sedan and Tour­ing (sta­tion wagon) forms, on of­fer in Aus­tralia, I had the lone diesel, the 320d Sedan, on short-term test.

Great at­ten­tion has been paid to mak­ing the new 3 Se­ries ap­pear wider, hence sportier, with a front end gain­ing new aprons with re­vised air in­takes. New-de­sign headlights and strik­ing LED day­time run­ning lights only go to em­pha­sise this.

Once again, the sculpted rear apron and stan­dard LED rear lights em­pha­sise the car’s width.

New wheels, ex­te­rior colours and equip­ment op­tions, round off choices for the new 3 Se­ries buyer.

BMW con­tin­ues to fo­cus on the driver, with easy ac­cess to all the main func­tions.

Er­gonomics have been im­proved fur­ther and ad­di­tional chrome high­lights and high-gloss sur­faces give the in­te­rior an even greater look of lux­ury.

For ex­am­ple, the cen­tral con­trol panel in the cen­tre con­sole comes in high-gloss black and fea­tures an am­bi­ent light­ing sur­round given by ad­di­tional chrome ap­pli­ca­tions.

Con­nected-Drive is stan­dard in the new BMW 3 Se­ries.

A SIM card built into the sys­tem gives ac­cess to a wide range of ser­vices from BMW Con­nected-Drive with­out the need for a smart­phone.

Smart­phone apps that have been op­ti­mised for BMW, such as Au­di­ble, GoPro and Spo­tify, can be used via the car’s dis­play and con­trol con­cept.

All three four and six-cylin­der petrol en­gines, in­clud­ing the four­cylin­der diesel unit in our test BMW 320d, are from the new mod- ular BMW Ef­fi­cient-Dy­nam­ics en­gine fam­ily and are equipped with the lat­est BMW Twin-Power Turbo tech­nol­ogy, which com­bines good per­for­mance with ex­cel­lent fuel ef­fi­ciency. Car­bon diox­ide emis­sions are Euro 6 rat­ing.

The out­put of the new BMW 320d ben­e­fits from fur­ther im­prove­ments in in­ter­nal fric­tion and re­spon­sive­ness through the use of anti-fric­tion bear­ings in­stead of plain bear­ings — up from 135kW of its pre­de­ces­sor to 140kW at 4000rpm.

With peak torque of 400Nm, be­tween 1750 and 2500rpm, the new BMW 320d sedan with eight-speed trans­mis­sion re­turns a zero to 100km/h time of 7.2 sec­onds, twotenths of a se­cond less than the pre­vi­ous 320d sedan.

In­tel­li­gent Emer­gency Call, an­other stan­dard fea­ture, comes to the aid of the oc­cu­pants if the airbags are trig­gered in a crash.

The built-in SIM card au­to­mat­i­cally trans­mits de­tails on the sever­ity of the crash, the po­ten­tial risk of in­jury to the oc­cu­pants and the ve­hi­cle’s lo­ca­tion to the BMW Con­nected-Drive Call Cen­tre.

This in­for­ma­tion is then used to ar­range emer­gency re­sponse.

Ride and han­dling are im­proved via the lat­est de­vel­op­ments in damper tech­nol­ogy, more rigid body shell mount­ing and a re­tuned steer­ing set-up.

BMW’s Driv­ing Ex­pe­ri­ence Con­trol can shift be­tween four driv­ing modes — Com­fort, Sport, Sport+ and Eco Pro — which al­ters throt­tle re­sponse and trans­mis­sion shift points.

The test ve­hi­cle recorded 7.8 litres per 100km in town and around 4.0 litres per 100km on the open road.

At $63,800, plus on-road costs, 320d is not cheap and, with the op­tions, could be even more.

Pic­tures: Mark Bean

A wider stance puts more ‘sport’ in the BMW sedan.

BMW’s Driv­ing Ex­pe­ri­ence Con­trol can shift be­tween four driv­ing modes.

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