BMW 320d M Sport Review

BMW 320d M Sport Review

Introduction
Twenties. That’s what this 320d is rolling on – 20-inch rims! Not that long ago 20-inch rims were optional even on proper sports cars like the 911, heck even the new M3 gets 19-inch rims as standard, but now you can have a diesel 3 Series with manufacturer-fitted 20-inch rims. Take a minute while the sheer preposterousness of that sinks in.

The profile is so low that watchmen everywhere will insist your P-Zeros are flat. That said, I’ll be the first to admit the 320d looks fantastic on these five-spoke twenties with ultra-low 30 profile tyres. And allied to the Estoril Blue shade (exclusive to the M Sport trim), sporty M Sport bumpers and new LED DRL graphic, the 320d looks fantastically desirable. It’s easy to forget that the F30 3 Series is now on its fourth year.

What’s new?
The updates to this car go beyond the rims and paint though. Under the hood there is the new 2-litre diesel engine that is now being rolled out across the BMW range. Displacing 1995cc the B47 motor replaces the earlier N47 and is part of a new range of modular engines ranging from 3- to 6-cylinders and across diesel and petrol fuels (the i8’s 3-cylinder B38 motor is from this family). The engine can also be mounted longitudinally (in the 3 Series) or transversely (in the new X1) and can be used with FWD or RWD layouts. With an aluminium crankcase the engine is 2kg lighter than the N47, it meets Euro 6 emission norms and is also claimed to be more efficient.

What you will notice are the reduced noise levels, even BMW acknowledging that the earlier engine wasn’t a paragon of refinement. Throttle response is also sharper and there’s more low-down urge without sacrificing the top end performance BMW’s diesels have always scored so highly on. Given the beans this motor revs to well beyond 5000rpm, without complaint, whereas other engines would have called it quits long ago.

How quick is it?
Power is up by 6bhp to 187bhp while torque goes up to 400Nm. Which is marginal really, with the claimed 0-100kmph time dropping down to 7.2 seconds. In terms of the driving experience not much is changed. The suspension on the F30 3 Series was always a little more compliant than what we had come to expect of BMWs and you can feel the underlying compliance in the damping. However, with these massive 20-inch rims, and literally nothing in the way of a tyre sidewall, one had to take it easy even over the lovely roads of South Delhi – not only for fear of cracking a vertebra but also shattering a rim.

Fun to drive?
Find a smooth stretch of road and the 320d comes alive. Select Sport+ to sharpen the throttle and gearbox, switch off stability control and the 320d brings out the boy racer in you. Nothing in this segment comes close to the driver involvement and sheer fun-to-drive factor of the 3 Series – the responsive engine, quick gearbox and dynamic polish of the chassis coming together to put a big smile on your face. Of course with these 255-section tyres there’s no way the rear is going to get unstuck, no matter how desperate your sawing at the steering wheel or grabbing at the manual handbrake – and this really is a case of a car being way too overtyred.

How is it on the inside?
On the inside the M Sport 320d gets the three-spoke M steering wheel with paddle shifters, sports seats with adjustable wing bolsters and carbonfibre stickers plastered all over the gear lever, handbrake and centre console. The carbonfibre is a bit of overkill, if you ask me, and the haphazardly stitched M Performance decal stitched on to the Alcantara slapped on the passenger side of the dashboard is unworthy of what is truly an excellent car. Which, on those 20s, looks hot as hell!

Evo India rating: 3.5/5

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