BMW 320d model proves its mettle

Tinashe Makichi Motoring Reporter

The 2013 BMW 320d limited edition has been one of the most unheralded vehicle brands on the local market but it has still managed to prove its mettle. The 3 Series range has always been known for its huge selection of engines, gearboxes and trim levels, but there’s little reason to look beyond the 320d efficient dynamics model.

The limited edition is quick and has seriously impressive running costs. You will absolutely love the low company car tax bills it commands. Kufamba mahara. I had the chance of test driving the car to Kadoma and I must say the savings are enjoyable.

BMW 320d and the 320i have been widely used by the Zimbabwe Republic Police mostly on highway patrols.

First off, the 2013, three series range consists of a 2-litre diesel (320d), a 4-cylinder 2-litre dual-turbocharged unit (328i) and a 6-cylinder turbocharged (335i). It’s a move away from large capacity engines towards smaller engines with boost, bringing huge benefits in economy.

On to the vehicle at hand, the 320d was delivered with a sports pack option and BMW offered the three in different “trim packages”, a standard car that you can add options to from the buffet: sports, modern (as opposed to retro) and luxury.

The car has a host of other options which adds a fairly significant $18 000 to the base price of $39 500.

BMW’s last 3 Series were criticised for what was a terribly harsh ride, due to the run-flat tires and sporty biased suspension. The 320d comes with adaptive suspension, which has 4 modes. eco, comfort, sport and sport plus.

These settings change steering, suspension, gearbox and throttle responses.

The vehicle makes considerable changes in the driving behaviour and really allows the car to take on three different “personalities”.

The 320d is a very popular model with South Africans. It generates 135kW and 380 N.m (From 1750-2750 r/min), to take it from zero to 100km/h in 7.6 seconds (auto).

There is a bit of turbo lag, but once it gets into the rev range and on the move it’s incredibly smooth and soaks up the kilometres with ease.

But amid all the brand manipulation issues, one key quality has come to characterise the 3 series, almost regardless of which model is under the microscope: class leadership.

While the Mercedes-Benz C-class or, less often, the Audi A4 may in one specific guise or another give the equivalent 3-series an unexpectedly good run for its money (on occasion it’s even been beaten), the general picture not just of recent times but of the past few decades is that the 3-series as a range has sat unchallenged and indomitable at the top of the pile.

Put another way, it has developed what can almost be described as a sense of entitlement to be thought of as the most coveted medium-sized car that mere mortals could ever hope to own.

But none of us must ever assume any car’s position at the top or bottom of the class. When it comes to assessing a new product, the past is irrelevant.

The only question in need of an answer is how the 3-series has managed to consolidate its position at the top.