In 2010, 11 out of the 15 Australia’s Best Car’s winners are powered by diesel engines. The winner of this category, the BMW 320d, is a great example of maximising performance while minimising consumption.
The BMW 320d Lifestyle is a 2010 makeover of an already-popular model in the German manufacturer’s lineup. Lifestyle brings with it an array of extra features expected in this level of vehicle, but it is still the entry-level offering with a sizeable list of optional extras on the table for the consumer’s picking, including high-beam assist, bi-xenon headlights, electrically-controlled (and heated) seats, alarm system, glass roof and satellite navigation.
The key feature of our winner is the enhanced 2.0-litre turbo-diesel engine which delivers 135kW of power, providing strength and purpose in its performance. In fact the 320d rated the highest of the finalists for performance. The small capacity of the engine does not prevent the 320d from delivering impressive low and mid-range torque. The engine was the most responsive and flexible to drive through all the challenging tests the proving ground provided. The car is well-served by the automatic gearbox’s ratios and smooth, swift shifts. It doesn’t hunt and the engine’s sizeable torque means the six-speed transmission doesn’t have to change up or down as frequently.
The 320d boasts a taut European ride, good steering and precise, communicative handling. The judges awarded the car with a pair of nines for performance and handling. The 320d also scored two nines for ergonomics and build and finish quality, which are considered trademarks of the Bavarian brand.
Slide into the driver’s seat and you will instantly recognise the brand promise of ‘the ultimate driving machine’. Even in this entry-level offering, the vehicle gives the driver an instant feeling of being at one with the car. Comfort is not forsaken when performance is required, with the BMW having a good ride and handling compromise.
Buyers in this category will certainly be able to procure a vehicle with more features for the same money as the 320d, but the BMW scores well for depreciation, so it is as sound a buy as others in the class. The 3 Series typically holds its value on the used car market.
The look of the 320d is purposeful and bolder than in previous models, and the interior gives the occupant a feeling of style and sophistication.
The price still gives a lot of car for the money required to get a vehicle that wears the BMW badge. Most drivers of the 320d will not be left wanting more kit, as there is plenty to be getting on with, including the very useable and practical iDrive system.
The 320d reinforces BMW’s sports DNA. The rear-wheel-drive sedan boasts class-leading ride and handling wrapped in a stylish, comfortable package.
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