Home / Home / BMW 320d Road Test Review – Cornered

 

The new BMW 320d hasn’t lost an ounce of sheer driving pleasure and Bavaria have shown they still have what it takes to deliver the ultimate driving machine. While new norms have necessitated more than a few changes, does the new 3 have the opposition cornered?

BMW 320d road test

Story: Jim Gorde
Photography: Saurabh Botre

Corner-carving is a skill whichever way you look at it. Whether it involves a carpenter, sculptor or carmaker, getting the right result is nothing short of an art. It must be smooth and precise, yet sharp where it needs to be. And, let me tell you, with the new 3 Series, BMW have raised the bar for performance and handling, especially in the bends.

The new G20 seventh-generation 3 Series was conceived in a changing world. No, it isn’t electric, but it does bring some serious new hardware and accompanying software that take it further forward and make it ready for the next decade. With the new BMW 320d, the Bavarian major have addressed not just efficiency, but also further sharpened their already agile sport-luxury weapon and given it an updated arsenal to ensure the salvo leaves the competition in the dust.

BMW 320d road test

But, first, the styling. The BMW 320d is a sharp, modern-looking car and, in this Luxury Line guise, it does get a lot of chrome trim. The kidney-grilles feature active vents that do both aid cooling and reduce drag as needed. The LED headlamps look distinct and work just as well on clear nights as on dark evenings during a downpour. The long, accentuated bonnet gives away the longitudinal engine and adds to its sporty appearance. It also features fog-lamps and independent parking lights for left and right. The four-door profile is all the 3 there is. Two doors are now 4 Series domain. The wheel-arches pack 17-inch wheels with more than adequate 225/50 R17 rubber. The shapely tail gets a pair of unique and much slimmer, three-dimensional tail-lamp clusters that are among the elements that mark this out as the new 3. It’s grown larger; as is the case with all new cars these days.

Now, to the numbers. At 4,709 millimetres long, it’s 76 mm longer than the previous F30, with a wheelbase up by 41 mm. Width and height are up and down a few mm, too, respectively, but the kicker is the difference in track width. The front wheels are now 45 mm further apart than before, while the rear track has also grown by 21 mm. The increased track is one of the key factors in making it the superb handling package it is, with the adept suspension and flawless damping taking care of the rest.

BMW 320d road test

The new BMW 320d sports a number of changes. However, the engine, for all intents and purposes, is the same. The 2.0-litre four-cylinder “B47” turbo-diesel unit continues with its 190 hp and 400 Nm, the turbocharging is multi-stage, and the common-rail direct injection uses solenoid injectors with a maximum pressure of 2,000 bar. The eight-speed automatic continues to drive the rear wheels. That said, the revamped electronics make for some major differences compared to its predecessor. Start it up and it’s not got a typical diesel thrum. It’s more of hum that varies in intensity as the revs build. The main drive modes, Eco Pro, Comfort, and Sport, alter the characteristics noticeably — particularly rev bands and throttle response. Since the first drive was done with earlier this year, I’ll briefly mention the high-res centre touchscreen, ambient lighting, Welcome Carpet light, large sunroof, and the “Hey, BMW” voice control personal assistant. The seats are firm but supportive — as they need to be when driving a car as engaging as the new 3 is, especially when going through some fun twists and bends.

BMW 320d road test

The steering wheel feels a little like the one in the BMW M5, with a soft-touch cushion-like grip on either side. However, it’s coarser, making it easier to turn. The rack is well-calibrated and feels tuned to perfection. Every half-degree of input receives an immediate response. There is no real play. But that only helps enjoy playing with the car so much more.

More on page 2 >

 

About the author: Jim Gorde

 

Automotive Correspondent at Bike India and Car India.
Believes that learning never stops. Loves V8 engines as much as a good breakfast.
t: @BikeIndia / @CarIndia

 

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