The fly in the diesel ointment though is that pesky, better priced 330i.
I am not going to waste time and space getting into the styling and other nitty gritty details as the 3 Series has been around for a while and we have spoken about these aspects over and over. What I do want to say though is that if you don’t want the standard spec model, then you can simply tick the box that says M Sport and for R876 000, which is just short of a R50 000 premium over the run-of-the-mill model, you get a host of sporty additions from the factory.
Large air intakes in the front end, distinctive side skirts and rear apron along with BMW Individual high-gloss Shadow Line trim, kidney grille bars in high-gloss black, air intake trim in high-gloss black and a rear diffuser in Dark Shadow. The same sporty treatment is carried over to the interior where you will find sports seats with M-specific upholstery, an M leather steering wheel, an anthracite-coloured BMW Individual headliner, and interior trim strips in aluminium Tetragon.
So, while the 330d M Sport certainly looks the part, the real news lies under the bonnet so to speak. BMW’s 3.0-litre six-cylinder turbodiesel is the stuff of legends. For generation after generation, the wise performance enthusiast would opt for this derivative simply because it delivers tree stump pulling torque while returning fuel consumption figures its petrol siblings could only dream of.
BMW remains the only premium manufacturer to offer a 3.0-litre six-cylinder turbodiesel in this segment, and although not as popular as it should be here in South Africa, it still makes a lot of sense on an everyday basis. But what has slowly crept into the mix with small capacity, high power, fuel efficient, turbocharged petrol engines, is that they now come pretty close to delivering the same sort of torque and fuel consumption numbers, but at a better price point.
Just for the record, the model I am alluding to is the 330i that comes in some R100 000 cheaper than the 330d, and not the whole lot faster M340i xDrive that is a full R200 000 more than the oil-burner.
In terms of straight-line numbers, and making use of the launch control function of the eight-speed sport Steptronic ‘box, the 195kW/580Nm 330d is no slouch, and hits 100 km/h in 6.02 sec, covers the quarter mile in 14.33 sec, and crosses the 1 km mark at 205 km/h. And this is all done while still being able to offer you a real-world fuel consumption number of 7.1 litres per 100 km.
The fly in the diesel ointment though is that pesky, better priced 330i. It is slightly quicker to 100 km/h with a time of 5.94 seconds, quicker to the quarter mile at 14.26 seconds, and faster at 1 km by seven kilometres per hour. It is also quicker in all the in-gear roll on acceleration tests, and where it really hurts the turbodiesel argument, is that it was only half a litre per 100 km heavier on fuel.
As to be expected is that the 330d offers class leading dynamics thanks to a low centre of gravity, 50:50 axle load distribution, and an increase in the front and rear track compared with the outgoing F30 model range. Added to this you get increased camber up front as well as a body that is now some 25% stiffer riding on a finely tuned M Sport suspension and brake set-up.
But being agile is not the only class-leading aspect of the 330d, the car also offers a host of standard and optional safety, connectivity and assistance systems, from “Hey BMW” that now lets you verbally communicate just about any command or need to your car, to the car driving itself. Well almost anyway.
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