Is the BMW 3-Series still the car to beat?
There are serious alternatives to the mighty BMW 320d. Question is: do you dare to be different?
Posted: 11 Jul 2012
It almost pains me to say this, but the Three Twenty Dee is imperious and annoyingly good. Even on the optional Sport 19-inch wheels and run-flat tyres, it rides with an easy slickness that must turn the other manufacturers green. The body control is a wonder, the way the engine thrums through the rev-range as lag-free as it gets for a turbodiesel. It feels more like a broad-shouldered, low-revving GTI. In fact, it feels so together, so jigsaw-tight, that you forget it's an ‘average' diesel saloon and just enjoy driving it. And that's enjoyment wafting down the motorway or having a bit of fun down a lane. It's also fast: 62mph in 7.5 seconds - roughly a second quicker than the CC, two seconds quicker than the DS5 and three-and-a-bit vs the Evoque, helped by a trim kerbweight of 1,505kg; 52kg fewer than the CC, 120 fewer than the Evoque and an enormous couple of hundred fewer than the DS5.
And there are other nails for the group coffin. Trawl the figures, and the 320d is the cleanest car here in terms of CO2, kicking it into the lowest VED band (120g/km means band C - free year one, £30 thereafter). It has the highest quoted combined mpg (61.4 - we got early 50s on test) and isn't even the hardest to insure at Group 31 - the Range Rover being one group higher at 32. There are other model variants for each of the cars here that can beat the BMW in specific areas, but no one model runs it close on every parameter.