Shock and awe­some

M Sport sus­pen­sion add-ons, for­merly for the masochist, now en­hance the 3 Se­ries

The Courier-Mail - Motoring - - PRESTIGE -

than the tiny Toy­ota Yaris run­about (6.0L/100km v 6.3L) and yet it’s no slouch thanks to the won­ders of tur­bocharg­ing tech­nol­ogy. This is an im­por­tant con­sid­er­a­tion be­cause the money you’ll save on fuel could jus­tify what to grab from the op­tions list.

The 3 Se­ries start­ing price is now a snip over $50,000 thanks to the re­cent ar­rival of the none-too-shabby 316i. The badge may bring on night­mares about the stub­by­look­ing and lethar­gic 316s from the late 1990s but the new one is a gem.

The car we’re fo­cus­ing on is the next model up, the 320i, which starts at $58,900. Not so long ago the 320i badge on the boot of a BMW sig­ni­fied a small six-cylin­der engine was un­der the bon­net. Now it means there is a rel­a­tively large 2.0-litre turbo four.

With not much less grunt than that found in a Volk­swa­gen Golf GTI, it moves along with al­most the same pace as the world’s top-sell­ing hot hatch (0-100km/h in 7.3 sec­onds against 6.9).

The new 3 Se­ries has re­ceived mixed re­views since it ar­rived late last year but there is a fairly sim­ple rea­son for the ups and downs.

For­give me for be­ing such an anorak but the out­come of road tests have largely de­pended on what wheels and tyres with which the gleam­ing press car has been fit­ted — and what roads re­view­ers have driven on.

Car com­pa­nies love to spruce up their demon­stra­tor mod­els. Big shiny wheels look good in pho­tos. They are also rub­bish over bumps be­cause there isn’t as much rub­ber to soak up the rip­ples.

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