BMW 320i Sports

BMW has recently launched the Sports series to complement the 3 Series lineup with the introduction of the 320i Sport and the 325i Sports models. According to BMW Malaysia, these Sports versions offer buyers a sportier version of the standard 320i SE and 325i models. BMW invited us to test drive the 320i Sports model, so let’s see how it stands up to expectations after the jump.

BMW 320i Sports

Looks

The 320i Sports model has quite a number of differences as compared to the standard 320i SE (base model). The most noticeable difference would be the M Aerodynamics kit which is made part of a front air dam with bigger air inlets and an integrated rear diffuser. The Sports version also features a 17 inch Dual Spoke M Light Alloy wheels, fitted with run flat tyres.

Another distinctive exterior feature of the Sports to help complement its looks is the Shadow Line high gloss black window recesses and mirror frame. The 320i Sports is also lower than its base model, with a total height reduction of 15 millimeters.

I would say BMW has done a good job in terms of styling the 320i Sports to outline its sportier characteristics. The car does feature a more aggressive look but let’s keep our fingers crossed for the driving experience and hope it complements the masculinity of the 320i Sports.

BMW 320i Sports

Performance

The 320i Sports version is fitted with a 2.0 litre inline-4 Valvetronic power plant that is supposed to be uprated with an additional of 6 horsepower revving it up to a total of 156 bhp @ 6400 rpm as opposed to the 320i SE’s 150 bhp. It sounds like the 320i Sports is more powerful but unfortunately based on our test drive we did not feel any difference.

Acceleration is modest with 0 to 100 km/h taking 9.7 seconds (same as 320i SE). Maintaining about 110 km/h on the freeway, I put my foot all the way down on the accelerator (a typical overtaking maneuver, or what you’d do when you encounter a long nice straight road); it shifts into lower gear, the rev increased and the engine ‘rumbles’, but it feels like forever before the speedo needle even touches 150 km/h.

You’ll probably reach its supposed 218 km/h top speed (same as 320i SE), but you’ll definitely need lots of road and patience.

BMW 320i Sports

Handling & Ride Comfort

The Germans have hit the right spot in terms of handling and ride comfort with the 320i Sports. The Sports version is fitted with an M Sports Suspension with an optimized lightweight stiff chassis and axle. Both on slow and high speed corners, the car sticks on the road and it gives the driver more confidence to push it to its limits.

The fact that the car is lowered by 15 millimeters and that it has a diffuser at the back means that 320i Sports is much more stable through curves and bends as downforce is increased and it actually gives the driver more room to play with. In terms of ride comfort, it is a little on the stiff side due to the stiff suspension and runflat tyres but you would pardon it is an acceptable balance between sporty handling and ride comfort.

BMW 320i Sports

Interior

You would first notice a thick rimmed M leather (perforated Aero leather) steering wheel which will prompt the thought of taking the longer way back home. This feeling intensifies as you notice that the sports seat which nestles you nicely while you adjust the how much you want the seat to wrap your back with just a press of button on the lower side of the seat. The built in air compressor pumps the side support of the seat, and the left front passenger also enjoys this cool feature.

Another neat feature in the inside is the multi-functional front center arm rest which features a USB port for your iPod or any other MP3 player or thumbdrive, and a strap holder for it. There is alsoa refrigerated cup holder.

Other than that the interior is rather standard with its cool Aluminum Glacier Silver finish on the dashboard, fully black trim and standard controls such as dual cabin temperature control and cruise control.

BMW 320i Sports

Verdict

The initial idea of BMW to offer a sportier version of the 320i SE and 325i range is obviously a fantastic one, but the issue with the 320i Sports is that you can’t really enjoy those extra bits to the max, especially the neat suspension setup with an engine that seems to go like its has something stuck up its exhaust. Its engine lets down the rest of the package, making it look like it overpromises and underdelivers.

However some of us may argue that the 320i Sports may be worth since it is only RM 9,000.00 more than the standard 320i SE.

Story by Harvinder Singh Sidhu and photos by Leong Tik Tsin and Paul Tan.

BMW 320i Sports

BMW 320i Sports

BMW 320i Sports

BMW 320i Sports

BMW 320i Sports
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BMW 320i Sports
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BMW 320i Sports
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PHOTO GALLERY: BMW 320i Sports
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