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

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Great to drive
There were times when I fancied just a little more power than the 320d has, but the feel through that wheel, the ability to place the car perfectly through a corner and the sure-footedness of the chassis (with a decent ride – unusual on run-flat tyres) were always able to brighten my spirits.

As did the feeling when the roof went down, a spectacle I never tired of and one I could enjoy from the outside by using the car’s remote – handy when you’re in the house and it starts to rain!

Apart from an annoying rattle that came and went, the roof provided plenty of top-down fun and top-up comfort. With the roof down and wind deflector in place (another option at £220), I could cruise in comfort and even use the hands-free phone without having to shout. Also, with the roof up, the car was as quiet, warm and comfortable as any 3 Series.

Despite these plus points, the 3 Series is definitely an expensive convertible. It costs a whopping £7000 more than the equivalent 3 Series saloon. Okay, so the 19% company car tax rating will save you a fair few quid compared with rival diesel convertibles, but I spent more on fuel than I’d have liked.

Steve loved the way the 320d drove - roof up or down. Keen handling and sharp steering always raised a smile
My average economy of 41.9mpg was, frankly, poor. BMW’s Efficient Dynamics technology, which includes an easy-to-live-with engine stop-start system, meant my car should have averaged 53.3mpg according to the official figures. My car was averaging more than 10mpg less than this figure, though. Even when I tried really hard to drive economically, I didn’t manage more than 45mpg.

That’s about the only disappointment with my car. Other than that it was particularly popular with my wife – I wondered why the Westfield shopping centre was pre-programmed on the navigation system!

Although I didn’t buy the car to be too sensible, it actually did mundane chores well. Even with the roof down, I could get a medium-sized suitcase in the boot. A couple of squashy bags could also be thrown in if I wanted to travel in coupé mode.

Short on storage space
There are always the back seats for extra luggage if you travel two up, but other than a couple of flimsy cupholders, there’s not much in the way of storage space up front. The glovebox will just about hold a pair of gloves, while even my sunglasses wouldn’t fit into
the door pockets.

BMW dealers often come in for a bit of a pasting in our reader reviews, but my experiences were okay. Not great, but okay. I used my local dealer, Sytner BMW, in High Wycombe (01494 455 100) for servicing when the telltale spanner in the instrument cluster eventually flashed at 19,000 miles.

Sytner undercut Cooper Thames Ditton by the best part of £100 and promised a 90-minute, while-you-wait service. Unfortunately their wi-fi wasn’t working, but I was out in about 95 minutes. It could have been better if my car hadn’t been sitting outside for 20 minutes.

It was a similar story when I popped back to have a loose grommet refitted in the roof.
I arrived 15 minutes late for my appointment, so was made to wait half an hour before my car was looked at.

At least Sytner valeted the car on both occasions and the dealer principle called to apologise when I was rather honest in the post-service survey. I’d still give them another go next time, I think.

If there’s one thing a year behind the wheel of a 3 Series Convertible has taught me, it’s
that it’s the very finest four-seat convertible money can buy.

Sure, it’s expensive and the fuel economy claims are a little optimistic, but there’s so much to love about it. It’s no surprise at all that this 3 Series made an appearance on the shortlist for What Car?’s 2010 Open-top of the Year.

What Car? says
Simply brilliant. Great to drive, easy to own.


steve.fowler@whatcar.com

What Car? test fleet: Bye-bye BMW - Lexus RX450h SE-L hello

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