Farewell report - 4th March 2020
So the BMW 320d is the new Company Car Today CCT100 Car of the Year 2020, and so it should be. I’ve just spent seven months and almost 16,000 miles in one, and it was quite the pleasant experience.
Our car looked splendid in moody Black Sapphire with tinted rear windows and all of the styling addenda that come with the M Sport trim.
It looked fab inside, too, with Mocha leather, a clear dashboard, and a widescreen infotainment set-up that put the clarity of my own TV to shame.
The 2.0-litre diesel is a punchy unit that was well mated to the slick-shifting eight-speed automatic transmission. The official CO2 output is 120g/km, with a corresponding average economy figure of 61.4mpg. Our test economy was some way short of that, at an average of 46.0mpg, although that still gave a tank range of around 600 miles.
The car was always quiet, be it on the motorway or on a back-road, and it certainly handled brilliantly.
The interior was full of standard kit, and the infotainment was comprehensive, if a little temperamental – it and my iPhone had twice-weekly tiffs, and on one occasion the whole thing switched off, including the dashboard, for a few seconds.
Nevertheless, life with the 320d was superb. Anyone about to get one as a company car will have happy miles ahead.
Update - 5th February
They say that only in adversity do you discover your true strength. So it was with BMW.
At the end of one journey over the Christmas break, the car developed a horrendous squealing noise from the front offside wheel.
One call to BMW Assist (on a Saturday evening) and within an hour a recovery truck was on the way with a replacement hire vehicle only slightly further behind. Impressive.
Better still, recovery driver Andy Gow from Ninewells Garage in Dundee, diagnosed a stone caught between the brake disc and backplate (pictured). He whipped off the wheel, extracted the stone and all was well. Everyone else was stood down immediately. Superb.
Update - 22nd January 2020
Our BMW 320d is fitted with the optional £1800 Technology Pack, and while some of the tech I can live without, other aspects are superb.
Gesture Control – just what is that all about? Why should I remove my hand from the wheel to change the audio volume or change track when I can use the steering wheel buttons? It seems designed for kids to reach forward from the back to wave their hands about and annoy adults.
However, the head-up display is superb, with simple info on speed and the prevailing limit, and well-designed navigation instructions all beamed into your eyeline. Excellent.
Fifth Report - 11th December 2019
At the risk of sounding like my father, blimey the nights are fairly drawing in early these days.
So it’s great that the 320d comes with standard LED headlights. These are remarkable, with a long and wide beam, and bright enough to turn night into day.
The car I actually own is getting on a bit, and has halogen lights, and the difference between these and the BMW’s units is staggering – the old lights cause much more of a strain on my eyes.
I also like the fact that ‘my’ BMW has no automatic high beam, because these rarely work as well as I’d like, simply because they can only ever be reactive, and never anticipatory.
Another aspect of the BMW I’m enjoying as we enter the grimy months of winter, is the xDrive four-wheel-drive system. It’s fair to say the conditions have been somewhat inclement of late, and this relentless onslaught of rain combined with the carpet of leaves has given the roads the frictional coefficient of Teflon, but the BMW has been unfazed. Traction is so good that the traction control system has remained unwoken, even when I’ve had to pull out briskly from junctions.
Do your worst, winter, bring it on.
Fourth Report - 30th October 2019
I reckon I’m pretty good with technology.
I’m using a computer to write these words (and spellcheck them), I’ve sussed out my Amazon Firestick, I can record TV programmes, and I can even provide long-distance IT support to my Dad and his iPad (admittedly with much teeth-gnashing from both of us). However, some of the BMW’s systems appear to be beyond me.
For a start, the self-parking gizmo has defied all my attempts to use it thus far. And that’s despite me consulting the manual at the time. A friend who is similarly tech-savvy (he has a PS4 and everything) was as befuddled as me. No matter what we tried to get it to do, the car would reverse only in a straight line, despite us having identified a suitable space for it to steer into.
Likewise the wireless Apple CarPlay set-up, which took an extended period to set up, and which crashes at least three times every week.
However, on the plus side, the BMW made a tremendous way to get to and from the recent Rally GB in deepest Wales. It navigated myself and two others to a mudswept stage without fuss, and kept us comfortable and alert on the lengthy trip home after a day in the forests. Superb.
Update - 16th October 2019
Well, the BMW has now managed to negotiate that most important of humdrum tasks – the tip run.
I filled the boot with a range of detritus, including an old mountain bike, some worn-out brake pads, a strimmer that my next-door neighbour had managed to drive over, and various other odds and ends. Normally, this lot could have posed a problem for a four-door, but our car’s folding rear seats meant it was simple to get everything in.
I’ve also taken to using Eco Pro mode more often, mainly when on the motorway, and the result is impressive.
The last time I brimmed the tank, the range to empty meter showed a whopping 687 miles.
Third Report - 2nd October 2019
We’ve been on holiday to various locations around Scotland, and the BMW was pretty fine company throughout.
Admittedly, we thought it would struggle with four adult-sized people and their luggage, so BMW were kind enough to lend me a £400 BMW 320 roof box, which was absolutely perfect. Even then, we brimmed the boot and the roof box, but it left the cabin free from detritus, which made the run up the M6 pass more easily for all concerned. It carried muddy boots when we met friends for a walk, too.
However, all is not perfect. Firstly, we have an irritating rattle in the area of the rear shelf, which is driving me slowly mad. Secondly, the infotainment set-up and my iPhone 8 have a fractious relationship at best, and like a couple of errant teenage siblings they refuse to talk to each other at least three times a week. IDrive has crashed on more than one occasion, and one time the entire system, including instruments, switched off for a few seconds while on the move. A dealer trip is booked.
Update -4th September 2019
After a few weeks of shuffling back and forth between home, work and my girlfriend’s place, the BMW was required to undertake its first long journey when myself and a couple of motorsport-loving mates decided to take in the British Touring Car Championship at Oulton Park in Cheshire.
The 320d was superb, devouring the M40, M42 and M6 without even a hint of displeasure, and we arrived fresh and ready for a day of good racing.
After watching a couple of BMW wins, we hit the road home, and again the BMW impressed by being amazingly quiet and (with the adaptive suspension in Comfort mode) serenely comfortable. Roll on more long trips.
Second Reporthe surround-view camera system is brilliant, making parking manoeuvres easy. However, the self-parking system has defeated my attempts to use it - it’s just too complicated! It’s hard to stop the car smoothly, because the brakes can be grabby at walking pace, and the auto gearbox’s creep function is particularly strong - 7th August 2019
I’ve never considered myself to be much of an executive. I don’t have any hair to slick back, I’ve never owned a briefcase, and while I do possess a suit, it’s been too small for a number of years.
However, one way in which I’m happy to play exec is by driving a new BMW 320d for the next six months. Will it cope with commutes here, there and everywhere? What will it be like on long journeys? Will it cope with a family holiday? How thirsty will it be? And is all the extra tech worth the additional outlay?
Oh yes, our car certainly has plenty of extra equipment, including BMW’s Technology pack, which includes a head-up display, wireless mobile phone charging, a Wi-Fi hotspot and gesture control. We’ve also got the Premium package with electric glass sunroof and electrically adjustable front seats.
Then there’s the M Sport Plus pack with 19-inch alloys, M Sport brakes, M-branded seatbelts and a rear spoiler.
This isn’t even everything, but we’ll look into the merits of the various extras over the course of the next six months.
Initial impressions are really good. The car looks splendid in Black Sapphire paint, and it drives as well as it looks. The engine pulls strongly, the gearbox shifts pretty smoothly, and it is incredibly quiet.
The next six months are going to fly by.
Preview - 10th July 2019
He’s a wonderful man, that Mr Editor Barker, sir. Doubtless there are many other reasons for this, but the one I’m concerned with is the fact that he’s decided I should run a new BMW 320d saloon for the next six months. Oh yes. That pay rise I asked for? Don’t sweat it, boss. This’ll do.
It’s the sort of car that should suit me perfectly. I do a decent mileage, so the fact that it’s an economical diesel is ideal.
To my mind, the 3-Series is the perfect size. It’s small enough to feel nimble and fun, but big enough to be spacious.
Finally, the only machine with more kit inside has the word ‘NASA’ writ large on the side. The next half year is going to be very interesting indeed.