So, should you buy one? Well, if you have got Rs 30
More dynamic, full of V-shape cuts and nasal ridges, the refreshed 3-series is now even better to look at. The prominent creases on the bonnet lend the car a sense of aggression, and this design element mates well with the rest of the look. The double-kidney grille has been reworked, and is in fact more in keeping with the current BMW grilles. The front bumper and chin have been reworked too and add to the strong 'V' look of the nose. The detailing of the headlights is new, there are new tail-lamps and new 3, finally, has larger and more practical mirrors.
A new alloy wheel design and a lip on the rear bumper complete the cosmetic mods to the 3-series. With all the changes, the car manages to look fresh and attractive. It also comes with a bunch of upgrades in the new Highline trim. The suspension setup is now softer, after complaints about the super-stiff ride, the engine puts out 20bhp more and there’s more equipment too. The BMW also remains true to the European luxury car format with the longitudinal engine and rear-wheel-drive layout. And of course, it comes with the ‘bad road suspension package’ to handle Indian roads.
The interiors are familiar, and the quality of the materials and design continue to impress. This car is feature-rich, especially the Highline version that has the latest version of BMW's iDrive with dedicated short cut keys and a 'back' button. It is more intuitive to use, and the simplified graphic interface is nicer too.
You pay in excess of Rs 30 lakh for this car and expect loads of space for that price. Sadly, the huge transmission tunnel and limited width makes it a four-seater at best. But while space may be limited, comfort for individual passengers isn’t. Six-foot drivers will have nothing to worry about for there’s enough headroom to keep them happy.
The 320d’s simplistic and elegant dashboard feels nice. The switches and plastics, buttons, seats and steering wheel are all lovely to touch, with impeccably finished surfaces. Only the one-push wiper stalk takes some getting used to. The BMW’s cabin seems like it’s been designed to keep distractions to a minimum and get on with the job of driving hard.
While this car is all about the driver's seat, many will choose to enjoy it from the rear seat too, which is the most comfortable in its class. Still, legroom is only decent, headroom is slightly cramped. There’s enough thigh support and even small things like the door pads are impressive. At 460litres bootspace is adequate.
Performance & Economy >
The engine remains unchanged, but with 177bhp and a 8.7 second 0-100kph sprint, one can't complain. The BMW’s 2.0-litre in-line four-cylinder motor has been tweaked to make 177bhp at 4000rpm and 35kgm of torque at 1750-2000rpm. Power delivery is very linear and it builds up speeds quickly but subtly.
In traffic, the BMW’s gearbox is responsive, with almost instant kickdowns; in fact, thanks to its strong midrange, it is even more usable than the considerably more powerful petrol 325i. It revs smoothly, but the six-speed automatic transmission, which also has a manual override, sometimes shifts down in a lazy manner.
This is a diesel that doesn’t mind being revved, the engine pulling strongly even in the top end of its rev range. Triple-digit cruising speeds are very easy to maintain and overtaking is not a problem on the highway. Refinement? The BMW’s updated engine is also easy on the ear and remarkably refined; it’s only the suspension noise on rough surfaces that spoils the tranquility.
The new 3-series also uses BMW's Efficient Dynamics technology, which is basically a set of revisions that are set to improve fuel economy. The BMW 320d returned 10.6 in the city and 14.4 on the highway.
Ride & Handling
The ride quality is relatively pliant and comfortable with most sharp-edged bumps rounded off. There is still plenty of stiffness in the springs and large holes are felt as thumps in the cabin, but the car is comfortable over most Indian roads.
What's great is that none of the famed BMW dynamics have been lost. The 320d remains the keen driver’s choice. Stability, even at speeds beyond 200kph, is now rock solid with none of the wandering and vagueness that plagued the earlier version on the softer setup.
The car also entices you into piling into a corner at high speed, the spot-on body control and sense of perfect weight distribution urging you on. And while the weighty steering is very good, feedback is a little inconsistent, coming in waves. The stiff run-flat tyres and suspension make the ride quite abrupt and even jarring but it shrugs off bumps so quickly that it’s rarely unsettling.
So, should you buy one? Well, if you have got Rs 30.5 lakh to spend on a luxury car, drop your cheque here. The most comfortable, the most refined, the most powerful, the fastest and best driving car has just gone and got a whole lot better, with no change in the price. The latest upgrades make the 320d more powerful and refined than ever, while faultless cabin quality and a supremely enjoyable driving experience seal the victory. The competition better wake up.
What it costs
Ex-showroom (Delhi) 48.32-55.4 lakh
Warranty 24 months /unlimited
Installation Front, longitudinal
Compression ratio 16:1
Valve gear 4 valves per cyl, DOHC
Power 177bhp at 4000rpm
Torque 35.6kgm at 1750-2500rpm
Power to weight 116.4bhp per tonne
Gearbox 6-speed auto
Chassis & Body
Tyres 225/50 R16
Front Independent, double joint spring strut suspension, anti-roll bar
Rear Independent, five-link axle, anti-roll bar
Type Rack and pinion
Type of power assist Hydraulic assist
Front Ventilated disc
City 10.6 kpl
Tank size 70 litres
Range at a glance - Engines
Petrol 3.2 litre
Diesel 2.0 litre