Our cars: BMW 3 Series - September

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BMW 3 Series
BMW 3 Series
BMW 320d Sport auto

Week ending September 28
Mileage 8900
Driven this week 200 miles


It's hard to argue that the 320d's head-up display is worth the £800 that BMW charges for it as an option, but I can't argue that it's anything other than brilliant. Especially good is the fact that it places sat-nav directions up on the screen – right in my eyesight but not at all distracting. It's useful and safer at the same time.

Best of all, the system allows you to alter both the height and brightness of the display. However, one issue that I am having is that my polarising sunglasses make the info a lot dimmer, although that isn't an issue now that there's precious little sun to block out.

Shame it's not cheaper though, because it would be a much more popular option I'm sure.

By Chas Hallett
Chas.Hallett@whatcar.com


Week ending September 21
Mileage 8700
Driven this week: 344 miles


Read the full BMW 3 Series review

This week our 320d Sport has been my companion for three trips into central London on business trips.

City centres aren't where it's happiest (that's multi-laners and B-roads). Nonetheless, it's good at traffic crawling too as the optional auto 'box is excellent at low speeds and it works brilliantly with the stop-start system. The instant acceleration is welcome when shooting out of junctions and onto roundabouts. Other urban attributes are: supremely comfortable seats, good visibility for a saloon and a really superb (if expensive) sat-nav system.

So, what are the drawbacks? Well, with 18-inch wheels the ride is well controlled, but a bit jarring over manhole covers and speed bumps. At low revs it never loses diesel engine rumble even when warmed through, although it's still a lot better than many other cars – and it's a lot more comfortable than the commuter train to Waterloo.

By Chas Hallett
Chas.Hallett@whatcar.com

Week ending September 14
Mileage 8356
Driven this week: 491 miles


Our 320d has two optional extras that help make it the best executive car on the planet.

The first is an eight-speed automatic gearbox. The £1525 option (£1660 if you want steering wheel-mounted paddles) makes the 3 Series much easier to drive smoothly at low speeds, because you don’t have to put up with the standard car’s notchy manual shift.

Option number two is adaptive M Sport suspension. The £750 extra loses you nothing in the way of ride comfort, but allows you to dial in stiffer suspension whenever you want (by pressing a button) to sharpen up the handling for winding roads.

Admittedly, these two things add £2275 to the price of a car, which is hardly cheap to start with. But if you’re worried about spending the extra consider this: as a company car driver in the 40% tax bracket you’ll end up paying only £13 more in Benefit in Kind (BiK) tax every month. That’s not much at all.

Alternatively, if you’re buying privately, internet broker Motorlogix.com will knock around £2300 off the car’s brochure price. In other words, you can have both options for free.

Will.Nightingale@whatcar.com

BMW 320d Sport auto

Week ending September 7
Mileage 7865
Driven this week: 730 miles


Read the full BMW 3 Series review

After 1500 miles in our BMW 3 Series, I'm convinced. The trip to the south of France and back was about as effortless as it's possible to imagine. The seats were comfortable, the entertainment system sounded good, there was plenty of space for four adults plus luggage and, apart from sending us through the centre of Paris, the sat-nav worked well.

The big win, and this will apply to commuters across the UK, was the fuel economy. An average of 54mpg over 1500 miles means that the total fuel bill was less than £200 - cheaper and more interesting than flying, slightly more time-consuming, but much more relaxing.

It looks good parked on the drive, too.

Ed.Keohane@whatcar.com

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