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First Drive

First Drive: BMW 320d

The story:
The latest version of the compact executive king has arrived in the UK, with the new 3-Series aiming to improve on what BMW describes as the old car’s “best in class’ status
Category:Compact Executive
Key rival:Audi A4
BMW 320d xDrive M Sport saloon
On sale:Now

BMW’s new 3-Series has now arrived in the UK, and we’ve had the chance to test the most popular 320d in xDrive four-wheel-drive form. This adds 8g/km over a regular 320d, bumping it up two benefit-in-kind bands as well as adding a not-insignificant £2925 to the P11D price.

The brand predicts that at least 70% of new 3-Series sales will be the top M Sport trim, with the remainder a roughly equal split between the SE and Sport levels.

Firsr Drive-BMW 320d-29th May 2019-Image 1This four-wheel drive xDrive system is available on all three trim levels, and only currently in the 320d engine, although that’s expected to expand as BMW fills out the range from a launch line-up that consisted of 320i and 330i petrols and 318d, 320d and 330d diesels.

The 3-Series has always been lauded as the best-driving car in its class, and BMW has worked to maintain that position while also improving the interior quality and standard specification; to that end all M Sports get the 10.2-inch touchscreen system that also brings the Intelligent Personal Assistant voice system. The base-spec SE gets adaptive LED lights, ambient lighting, reversing camera, three-zone climate control and folding mirrors, while Sport spec’s kit now includes 18-inch alloys and full leather heated seats.

Firsr Drive-BMW 320d-29th May 2019-Image 7The 320d xDrive is sure-footed on greasy roads, although the driving experience is perhaps not quite as good as that of the regular rear-drive car. Still, it’s identical to the rear-driver in that cabin quality is improved over the old car’s.

Emissions are also a huge plus for the four-wheel drive car, because they compare favourably with its main rivals’ to create what is a healthy whole-life cost advantage of almost 5p per mile compared with the next-best. The 320d xDrive’s 120g/km is 11g/km better than the Mercedes C220 CDI 4Matic’s 131g/km, while the Audi A4 2.0 TDI 190 S-Line quattro and Jaguar’s all-wheel drive XE are on 138g/km. Residual values also compare favourably with rivals’, and the subtly improved looks, including larger kidney grille and shallower rear pillars, mark out the new car without being much more than evolutionary in style


Paul Barker

The verdict

The new 3-Series builds on the previous car’s strong points and adds more tech, better interior quality and increased efficiency to keep it at the forefront of the compact executive sector.