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BMW 320d EfficientDynamics Review & Road Test (2010)

Tue, 12 Oct 2010

BMW 320d EfficientDynamics Review

It comes as something of a shock to realise that the BMW 3 Series has been around for thirty five years, not least since I remember its launch and the stir it caused by offering as it did not just a stylish compact saloon car, but one which offered both prestige and performance. It was also streets ahead of what, until the 3-Series came along, we thought of as a cracking little BMW – the BMW 2002.

Thirty five years is a huge amount of time in the world of cars and the 3-Series has changed out of all recognition in the intervening time. But it’s still offering a great badge and great performance, even if the world’s obsession with climate change and CO2 emissions is making BMW reinterpret its raison d’etre.

Having spent most of the last generation telling us that a BMW is ‘The Ultimate Driving Machine’ – and seeing their worldwide sale rocket as a result – BMW is now keen to introduce a bit of fluffy-bunny-lovin’ in to the mix. So even though we can still think of a BMW as the ultimate driving machine, we’re supposed to think ‘Joy’ when BMW enters our minds.

All of which leads us neatly in to what could be thought of as the personification of BMW’s strategy to cope with the demands of a generation of car buyers either obsessed with or hidebound by CO2 emissions and frugality – the BMW 320d EfficientDynamics.

Why, you might ask, if you know anything about BMW’s EfficientDynamics strategy, would BMW choose to shove an EfficientDynamics badge on the 320d when 4-pot BMWs have been quietly getting the ‘Eco’ stuff added without any big hue and cry?

Stuff like low-rolling resistance tyres, stop/start, active aero and an irritating gear shift indicator have all crept in to the 320d already, so why the badge? Simple, this is BMW’s eco pièce de résistance; a work of fiendishly clever tweaking and titivating to produce a 3-Series that uses less fuel than a moped and emits so little Co2 it can probably be blamed for any poor crops this year in the UK.

And it’s the UK that’s expected to buy the bulk of this super-frugal 320d ED as it panders to the whims of the Chancellor of the Exchequer by sipping fuel at a rate of just 68.9mpg. Which in itself is astonishing enough, but the real big selling point is probably the 109g/km CO2 emissions.

That super-low CO2 figure means 320d ED owners will pay VED at a rate of just £35 a year but, far more importantly, it means a BIK (benefit in kind) of just 13% and – if you run a company or are self-employed – a 100% first year writing-down allowance if you choose. This, in accountancy circles, is the official definition of a wet dream.

So how on earth has BMW achieved such miracles? Well, basically, by making the 320d less powerful, fitting old-fashioned looking tyres on measly 16″ rims, dropping the ride height and doubtless roping in Merlin to inculcate a magical frugality spell.

Which sounds about as much fun as a Toyota Prius, but without the obvious green halo. But actually, this is a real BMW, not some Teutonic sop to climate change. Which means it’s fun to drive and good to look at.

Yes, really.

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By Cars UK