In many respects the 320d could be the hidden star in the current 3 Series lineup, as it not only offers exceptional economy, but all that a driver expects from a 3 Series.
The 320d is powered by a 2.0-litre DOHC four-cylinder common rail diesel engine. It delivers 115kW of power at 4000rpm and an impressive torque of 330Nm at 2000rpm. Diesel does not have to equate to any lack of performance and the 320d is a perfect example of how good a diesel can be. For most drivers they would not even know they are driving a diesel powered car. Acceleration is good and handling and driving quality is as good as any petrol powered 3 Series. This car is no slouch and will peel off 0-100km/h in an impressive 8.9 seconds - a second faster than its 2.0-litre petrol equivalent. It has a top speed of 216 km/h.
The 320d deserves plenty of success as it is a classy and functional package. It comes with the diesel engine only mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission with steptronic, which is not a bad thing. The strong torque of the diesel can deliver with ease and unlike diesels of old, there is no startup clatter, puffs of black smoke and other diesel ailments of yesterday. Today's diesel is fuel efficient, significantly quieter than past models and very much at the cutting edge of design and performance. This model has the latest common rail technology, which means that it has a frugal high pressure injection system and computer controlled variable geometry turbocharger.
The 320d handles as good as any BMW and is responsive with good acceleration with little gear kick down as might be expected.
Therer is no manual option available, but the steptronic is a class gearbox and fulfils the job competently. It boasts extensive safety equipment including ABS, six airbags, ESP and brake assist. Interior comfort is refined and at an entry price of $56,700 is good value. The 320d Executive model is $61,500, and of course there are a host of options available.
BMW 320d sedan
Engine: 4-cyl. inline, CRD engine
Bore & Stroke: 84/90mm
Compression ratio: 17:1
Max Power: 115kW @ 4000rpm
Max torque: 330Nm @ 2000rpm
Transmission: 6-speed auto with Steptronic
Suspension: Front - double joint spring-strut front axle; multi-link rear suspension
Brakes: Ventilated discs
Steering: Rack and pinion
Wheels: 7Jx16 steel
Tyres: 205/55 R16 91V RSC
Fuel consumption: Urban cycle 9.1L/100kms; Average 6.7L/100 kms
Fuel tank: 61 litres
Fuel range: 910 kms
Kerb weight: 1445kg
Towing: Braked/Unbraked 1800/1600kg
Safety features: Dynamic stability control including ABS, CBS and traction mode
Performance: Top speed 216km/h. 0-100km/h 8.9 seconds
Price: From $56,500.