A recent customer (see Beware dealer tactics – positive conclusion) kindly leant me his car for a test drive.
The car is a BMW 3 series touring, 330D xDrive Luxury. It is a 2014 model with a 3 litre 6 cylinder diesel and an 8-speed automatic gearbox. It has 254bhp and 413lb-ft of torque.
I chose a 140 mile route covering town driving, country roads, fast A roads and motorway.
First impressions were of a muscular / quality feel to the car. Everything was very well put together and looked and felt top quality.
In town it felt relaxed, easy to drive and the stop-start feature was impressive. As you come to a standstill, you would stay in Drive and the engine would cut out. As soon as you take your foot off the brake, it starts again instantly. Once or twice it was slightly caught out as it slowed almost to a standstill and then pulled away, half turning off before firing up again, but you would easily learn to drive round that. You can switch S/S off if you wish.
Once the road opens out, this car is powerful and makes effortless overtaking very easy. It was a dry day, so I didn’t notice the benefits of its all wheel drive system, but it felt very assured and planted at all times. Cornering is very, very good with quick and direct steering – just as a BMW should be!
On the motorway it felt very solid and very quick, particularly when accelerating to pass slower moving traffic. Also pulling safely onto the motorway was very easy – but with this amount of torque and traction on offer, increasing your speed effortlessly is not going to be a problem.
Inside, the BMW feel very modern and cutting edge. The Professional Navigation system, the DAB radio, the beautiful touch points and surfaces – all were as you would expect from the luxury trim edition. I loved the Oyster (light brown) leather and headlining. The panoramic sunroof is an expensive option at over £1000, but worth it if can stretch to that (or if looking for a second hand version).
Overall, I was very impressed. But this is an expensive vehicle. Would I buy one? Well, if you can afford one, it is arguably all the car you could every need. Estate practicality, 4WD go anywhere ability and very fast.
Gripes – one or two. Its boot is not that big. My Skoda Octavia’s boot is considerably bigger. Rear space is not too great either. The pedal space / footwell for the driver is tight too, and I don’t have huge feet. My left foot felt cramped and too close to the brake pedal. All these just remind us that the 3 Series Touring is a small estate.
There is quite a lot of tyre noise too. But this is difficult to mask with the wide, low profile tyres needed to deal with all that power.
But these are small niggles. There is much to like, particularly the pace matched to the over 50mpg available on the combined cycle.
It didn’t feel as quick as the quoted 0-62 in 5.4 seconds, but I didn’t really push it very hard – it’s not mine after all. But the overtaking grunt is addictive. I should imagine the 50-70mph time is very impressive.
Back to my question. Would I buy one? New at £45,000 including all the toys. No. Nearly new at up to £10,000 off, yes – if I had the funds. I’d probably prefer the slightly bigger 530D, but each to their own and their needs.
A big thank you to my client – a great day out!