What Car? test fleet: Bye-bye BMW - BMW 320d Convertible goodbye - part 1

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BMW 320d Convertible M Sport
List price £36,695
Target Price £34,225
Run by Steve Fowler
Tested for 12 months/20,743 miles
Why it’s on test Can our love of the 3 Series extend to the Convertible, and can an eco-friendly open-top car be fun?SOM

Some people questioned my judgement. A bloke with three kids and a wife getting a four-seat convertible? The numbers didn’t add up. There’d be tears before bedtime. Quite possibly mine.

The arrival of our 320d Convertible coincided with a bit of a rethink of the Fowler household’s transport needs – we’d just bought a new MPV for use at weekends, which meant I could have something a little more fun for my weekday commute. Fun, but still with a hint of sensible and some green credentials, too.

Those same people who were questioning my judgement were also suggesting I might be having something of a mid-life crisis – especially when the white convertible with a red leather interior turned up. Whatever.

I collected my car on a brisk November day from Cooper BMW in Thames Ditton (0845 128 2623) where Adam Basheer, who’s obviously seen a fair few blokes having mid-life crises come through his doors, took me through the controls and options I’d chosen on my car.

I’d decided the 174bhp 320d would be the best blend of fun and frugality: a 0-60mph time of 8.6 seconds sat comfortably with average economy of 53.3mpg and CO2 emissions of 140g/km.

I could have gone for a 325d or the M3-rivalling 330d, but thought I’d spend the cash on a few options instead – as most owners do.

Optional extras
I’d rather have seen things such as Bluetooth (£535), parking sensors (£285), iPod connection (£205) and heated seats (£260) as standard on a £35,000 car, but the truly superb LOGIC7 stereo (£820), DAB radio to make the most of it (£285), keyless entry and go (£460) and that red leather with Sun Reflective technology to stop it fading or getting too hot (£1095) were all worthwhile options.

Then there’s the sat-nav – all £1970 of it! That’s expensive, even if the latest version of BMW’s iDrive multimedia system (which you need to control it) is very good.

First impressions stick and I will always remember what struck me the first time I slipped behind the wheel: the M Sport steering wheel is the best I’ve ever held. It’s thick, small and plays a big part in what makes any 3 Series so special – the sublime steering.

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What Car? test fleet: Bye-bye BMW - BMW 320d Convertible goodbye - part 2

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