Rolling around in a BMW 3 Touring is certainly going to get you alot of stares. After all, how many Malaysians are used to seeing station wagons around other than the popular AD Resort workhorse? Some of my peers even commented to me they didn’t know BMW made station wagons. Apparently BMW is supposed to be making sporty driver’s cars, and it seems that station wagon can’t really fit into the typical equation. Call me weird, but I actually prefer the Touring body to the Sedan’s body!
Despite the 3 Touring being heavier, the 325i Touring clocked the same time around the Nurburgring track as it’s 325i Sedan sibling, so there’s no compromise in driving experience there. Driving the BMW 3 Touring around is still as fantastic as a 3 Sedan – wonderful sharp and precise steering, lovely handling typical of a rear wheel drive sedan.
But there’s something very, very different about this 3 Touring. It’s a diesel! Yes, the BMW 320d seems intent on breaking all the rules when it comes to a BMW, yes it remains a lovely drive. Slow town driving is really a relaxing experience due to the crazy amount of low-end torque that’s an inherent characteristic of turbodiesels. You will rarely find the need to go over 2,500rpm.
But then you get to a crossroad, or a roundabout that requires some quick reflexes, this is when you find that you have to take on a somewhat predictive behavior to the accelerator pedal. There is some turbo lag – from the moment you floor the pedal, boost only kicks in slightly more than 1 second later, and 1 second could really mean the difference between heaven and hell. I also found it hard to do overtaking at highway speeds because of a combination of gear ratios, the torque curve with all the torque at the low end, as well as the short revband of the turbodiesel. Somehow the minimal exhaust gasses produced at cruising speeds combined with a high gear ratio makes turbo lag even more prevalent.
The 2.0 litre turbodiesel in the 320d is good for 163hp at 4,000rpm and 340Nm of torque between 2,000rpm to 2,750rpm. 0-100km/h takes 8.8 seconds, and the car goes to a top speed of 218km/h. The relatively high horsepower in relation to displacement compared to other more â€œold schoolâ€ diesel engines in our country should be due to the usage of a variable turbine geometry turbocharger instead of a conventional one. The diesel clatter is quite loud at low speeds, but at highway cruising speeds its nowhere to be heard. Wind down the windows at night and you can hear the turbine spinning, which I find strangely addictive.
Despite all of that, I love the car, and it provided me a very relaxing drive for the 4 days I drove it, a welcome change from the absolute zero low-end push of my small displacement V6-engined Proton Perdana.
I also got ridiculously good mileage from the car. It was the only BMW which I did not have to refuel before I returned it â€“ I only managed to finish slightly more than half of the 60 litre tank of diesel and got about 400km from it. And I was actually flooring the accelerator pedal a lot. Driven frugally most of the time, that would mean about 700 to 800km of distance traveled per full tank of diesel. I found myself checking the remaining km numbers on the fuel computer more often than a person normally would, just to grin happily at how little fuel Im using!
Now that were done with how it drives and how much fuel it uses, lets get back to the basics and see whats loaded up in this car. The seats are nothing fantastic, but provide adequate support. No electric adjusters here, just plain old school levers. The sound system also leaves much to be desired. I would put it exactly at the boleh pakai sahaja level, with not much treble and bass and distortion when played at high volume levels.
There is dual automatic climate control. Your path is lighted up via really nice Xenon headlamps for both low beam and high beam, which can turn on automatically thanks to the automatic driving lights control. Other cars on the road with improperly adjusted Xenon headlamps will not blind you with the automatic anti-dazzle rear view mirror. Rain sensors also allow the wipers to come on automatically when set to the Auto mode.
The 320d equipment level is pretty much specified at the entry level. However, you do have some nice Titanium matt trimming that gives the interior a nice ambiance. So you still feel youre in a BMW, as long as you dont turn on the entertainment system.
There is a boot larger than a normal sedans, being a station wagon of course, but space is nothing amazing that makes you go â€œwowâ€ like the 5 Tourings. There is a divider net, and the boot can be accessed via opening just the rear window. The loading area cover is automatically raised when you do this. Of course, for more boot space, theres always the option of putting down the 60:40 split rear bench. I liked the rear headrests on the car, they fold down with just a touch of a button.
So yes, number one its a station wagon. Number two, its a diesel. Number three; its a 4-cylinder. The little 320d goes against everything that a BMW is perceived should be, yet it makes so much sense. However, being a CBU and costing a massive RM298,800 on the road without insurance might go against it when being considered for purchase, considering its relatively low equipment level.
Video: 320d Engine
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