Our cars: BMW 3 Series - November
Week ending November 30
Driven this week: 220 miles
I've done a mixture of driving this week, so it seems like a good time to report on how the BMW 320d's fuel economy fluctuates. Or rather how much it doesn't.
Our car, with its optional eight-speed automatic gearbox, is remarkably consistent in how much diesel it gulps down. Around town – where it does spend a disproportionate amount of time – it regularly averages 48mpg, even in heavy traffic.
Get to multi-laners, though, and that does go up – but only to around 52mpg when driving at accepted motorway cruising speeds. If I'm really trying to drive economically, it creeps up to about 54mpg.
No complaints, though, because I think those figures are excellent for a car such as the 3 Series.
By Chas Hallett
Week ending November 23
Miles this week 590
This week four-fifths of the What Car? climbing team decided to take a jaunt to north-west Wales and conduct an ascent of Mount Snowdon. Why? Well, because it's there, which is always the best reason.
So, after a shockingly early 4.30am alarm call at my house in darkest Oxfordshire, we set off at 5.15 and headed vaguely in the direction of a very large and, as it turned out, cloud-shrouded mountain.
The BMW was the perfect car for the trip. No other car on the fleet would have done the trip as well. That's because for a start its boot easily took all of our kit and supplies. Its cabin was spacious enough and comfortable, and with its adjustable suspension left in Normal, the 320d easily dealt with motorway imperfections.
Then came north Wales, and we moved on to bucking, heaving single-carriageways roads. One press of the button and the car entered Sport mode, and instantly was more alert for the twisty task ahead. The steering was faithful, the responses quick and accurate, and never did the ride become wearisome.
We arrived at the appointed hour fresh and ready to climb, and when we arrived achy and tired back at the car after a quick up and down, the 3 Series took us to our overnight halt without fuss.
The next day, the trip back to my house disappeared without incident or fuss, and we'd covered the whole 450-mile round trip with a quarter of a tank to spare. Perfect.
If you have any weekend climbing trips planned, a BMW 320d makes a tremendous support vehicle.
Week ending November 16
Driven this week: 300 miles
Read the full BMW 3 Series review
I know I'm getting on a bit, but I'm still amazed by how far some of the latest cars can go between services.
Even though our BMW 320d Sport is now touching 12,000 miles, the on-board computer tells me that it can do about 19,000 before it needs its first service. That's impressive considering that it doesn't seem to have burnt a drop of oil, all the tyres are still looking fresh and nothing's awry whatsoever. Not that you should expect it to be.
That means I'm still several months away from shopping around to get the best servicing deal from the BMW dealers located around the What Car? office. It's going to be interesting comparing the BMW service with the excellent Mercedes dealership where my previous car – a CLS250 CDI – was dealt with.
Week ending November 9
Driven this week: 520 miles
It's that time of the year when getting going in the morning takes that little bit longer because you've got to clear all the windows. Bizarrely, I've discovered that our BMW 3 Series takes longer than most for the heated rear screen and mirrors to spring into life and demist the glass.
In fact, just to make sure, I've had early morning starts in a Mercedes A-Class, Peugeot 208 and VW Up in the past week and all of them have been at least twice as quick to clear their screens. I know our 320d is packed full of tech, but that doesn't seem to extend to the good old-fashioned heating elements in the glass.
By Chas Hallett
Week ending November 2
Driven this week: 458 miles
If you're in the market for a new 3 Series just make sure that it's big enough for your needs.
That may sound like grandmother sucking eggs, but I say this as someone who finds our 320d large enough for 99% of the time, but frustrating on the odd occasion when it isn't.
Yes, it's great at accommodating two large adults in the back - not something you'd say about the old model - but I have been running out of boot space recently. It can't really take my six-year-old son's bike without resorting to the (optional) split-fold seat. It's also full to bursting with the sort of luggage a small hatch would easily swallow.
The Touring version wasn't available when we took delivery of our car, but I'm starting to think that for anyone with a family it's the 3 Series to have.
By Chas Hallett