The power of the mo­ment

BRIAN BAS­SETT binds the BMW 330d Au­to­matic with a speed lim­iter to stay out of trou­ble

The Witness - Wheels - - MOTORING -

I HAVE driven BMWs for more than 25years.

Mostly the 3-se­ries but here and there a 5-se­ries. The main rea­son I con­tinue to drive these Bavar­ian chariots is not only be­cause of their build qual­ity and peppy en­gines, but also be­cause of their han­dling and driver fo­cus.

I am grate­ful to Allen Neave of SMG Pi­eter­mar­itzburg for al­low­ing me a few days with the 330d M-sport pack­age, which was most en­joy­able.

The 3-se­ries not sur­pris­ingly ap­peals to the young and the young at heart.

The face-lifted 3-se­ries launched ear­lier this year is largely all about changes un­der the hood and not about the ex­te­rior.

The car re­mains as it was with the typ­i­cal BMW kid­ney grill at the front, flanked by swept-back head­light mod­ules and fog lights built into the front bumper.

The tail lights which dom­i­nate the rear end are now full LED lights. The short over­hangs, the long wheel base and coupe-like roof styling, as well as the 19inch, dou­ble seven-spoke light al­loy wheels give the 3-se­ries a dis­tinc­tive and ath­letic de­sign per­son­al­ity, which stands out wher­ever it goes.

The in­te­rior is well put to­gether and er­gonom­i­cally ex­cel­lent.

The seats and doors are fin­ished in soft leather, as is the multi-func­tion, three-spoke steer­ing wheel which, to­gether with the com­fort­able front sports seats, is fully ad­justable.

The steer­ing con­trols func­tions like cruise con­trol, Blue­tooth and the fine, six-speaker CD/Aux/USB au­dio sys­tem can also be linked to a se­ries of elec­tronic won­ders, which may be pur­chased as op­tional ex­tras.

The dash­board is typ­i­cally BMW with four ana­logue gauges and a screen op­er­ated by a cen­trally-placed con­troller, which dis­plays a range of in­for­ma­tion about the ve­hi­cle and your jour­ney.

The ve­hi­cle I drove came with a sun­roof which lit a some­what for­mal black in­te­rior.

Space and safety

The rear seats take two pas­sen­gers com­fort­ably and I liked the wide, cen­tral arm­rest which in­creased rear pas­sen­ger com­fort lev­els.

The boot is sur­pris­ingly spa­cious and the rear seats fold for­ward in 40:20:40 split to dou­ble the boot space.

The 3-Se­ries has a 5-star NCAP rat­ing, six front, side and cur­tain airbags, a spe­cially de­signed oc­cu­pant cell, adap­tive head­lights and ABS with EBD and dy­namic sta­bil­ity con­trol, to men­tion but a few. There is also the usual on-board alarm and cen­tral lock­ing.

If you are into gad­gets, your elec­tronic key can be pro­grammed to set tem­per­a­ture, seat­ing and air­flow po­si­tions to your lik­ing. All it takes is money.

Per­for­mance and han­dling

For BMW per­for­mance and han­dling is what it is all about and there the 330d does not dis­ap­point.

The ac­cel­er­a­tion from the turbo-charged, three-litre, six­cylin­der 258 kW/560 Nm en­gine is bril­liant and pro­vides power in a mo­ment.

This car gets from 0-100 km/ h in 5,9 sec­onds and top speed, should you feel like sui­cide, is 250 km/h.

Fuel con­sump­tion is around 7,9 l/100 km depend­ing on driv­ing style and ter­rain.

The ride is quiet and com­fort­able even at speed and on the N3 I found it very dif­fi­cult to keep the car to the speed limit. The steer­ing is im­me­di­ately re­spon­sive and the eight-speed au­to­matic trans­mis­sion is seam­less.

Driv­ing in town is a plea­sure, although I had to get used to not de­press­ing the ac­cel­er­a­tor too force­fully, as the car leaps for­ward with­out much prompt­ing.

The 330d is a fam­ily car, a sports saloon and a grand tourer all wrapped in an im­pres­sive tech­no­log­i­cal pack­age.

The car comes with a five-year or 100 000 km mo­tor plan which is ex­tend­able and cov­ers ev­ery­thing but tyres.

Price and com­pe­ti­tion

BMW on Call will ser­vice your needs for the du­ra­tion of your plan. New, the car will cost you about R600 000, but re­mem­ber there are demos and year olds, which re­duce the cost sub­stan­tially. The op­tions list is long and should you choose to do so you could add sev­eral hun­dred thou­sand rand to the new price.

Also have a look at Mercedes C-Class, Audi A4, Lexus IS and In­finiti Q50.

PHOTO: BMWBLOG.COM

The BMW 330d with the M pack­age — few petrolheads thought a diesel could ever be this smooth.

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