Review of the new 2012 BMW 320d Sportline
With fans eagerly waiting all across India, BMW introduced its sixth generation 3-series on 27th July 2012 in Mumbai. This is a completely new model and not just a facelift. Though the new price list is a tad bit disappointing (starting from 36L+ on-road for the Sportline/Luxury series), the higher pricing could be attributed to the constantly falling Rs with respect to the dollar.
I got a chance to drive a BMW 320d Sportline just a few days after the launch. Though I really loved the 18-inch alloys on the 328i (petrol version) but the 17-inch double-spoke on this car looked sporty enough. I just fell in love with the Melbourne red color, black trims and the menancingly-white LED angel eyes. This model is slightly wider and longer than the previous 320d. But there was no sun-roof
The car has sports seats for both driver and front passenger. These sport seats are quite different from the normal luxury seats, they are more comfortable and driver friendly. Extended thigh support makes long drives easier. Dakota leather upholstery on all seats + steering with red accents worked well to give the car a sporty feel. But this model had a lot of missing features which ought to be standard for a car in this segment. Absence of both cruise control and navigation system, an iDrive without a hard drive, no sun-roof and no memory buttons for the passenger seats almost stole some sheen away from the car. But the dashboard is still awesome, tilted slightly towards the driver affirming the driver-centric DNA of this car. All buttons are easy to reach and iDrive shows all important statistics like tyre pressure, engine, torque + HP digital gauges on screen.
The cockpit is angled towards the driver by around seven degrees and puts all the important controls within easy reach to provide a sense of personal control and comfort. Seats in the all-new BMW 3 Series are electrically adjustable on both the driver and front seat passenger sides. The back seat might be a slight bit uncomfortable for the third (middle) passenger because of the transmission line running all the way from the engine to the rear-wheels, but it is a very small price to pay for owning a rear-wheel drive juggernaut!
Once you place yourself in the cockpit (thanks to the sport seats) and start the engine, every missing feature fades away instantly! The 8-speed triptronic gearbox is just mind-blowing, and the moment if put the car in Sports+ mode with manual transmission, you can feel the immense acceleration surge pushing you back in your seat. It truly feels as if you are driving a sports car, the handling is out-of-the-world. In Eco-Pro mode, the car peforms reasonably well, and the mileage goes up. I was able to reach 14kms/litre in crowded city driving with the AC on. Comfort mode eases the suspension and it is the most comfortable mode to drive, though the mileage goes down by 1km/litre. In Sports and Sports+ mode, you can feel the raw power this car has on offer, and if you stick to manual shift with Sports+ mode on, the car behaves like a wild beast. Handling is superb, car is firmly planted on road. I did not find any issues with steering, I have driven E90 with semi-hydraulic steering but I have no complaintes with servotronic EPS in this new F30.
The new-generation RFTs (run-flat tyres) are better than the old ones as you do not feel the stiffness even while driving over potholes. Handling, cornering and gear shifts in the new ZF8 auto-transmission is much more improved.
No wonder this car scored five-star rating in the latest Autocar UK test drive review . The last car to achieve this status was the Ferrari 458 Italia, one of the best Maranello-built sport cars. From the review: “In an unusual comparison, the UK magazine compares the highly-efficient 320d against Volkswagen Golf GTD, Skoda Superb 2.0 TDI Elegance estate, Range Rover Evoque and Mercedes-Benz E220 CDI BlueEfficiency SE. …the keen driver will always choose the BMW 320d. It isn’t merely the latest generation of a much-loved model, but the ultimate expression of automotive progress. Until recently, it was not possible to associate such performance and desirability with such practicality. Now it is.”