BMW has always had a winner with their 3 range. It’s the perfect sedan for the executive who needs a high quality vehicle while moving on up the corporate ladder. Perhaps this is why there are so many of them on the roads, too.
This is not necessarily a bad thing. The car is actually very good. While it is only a 2.0l and some may argue just that, it’s actually pretty good for just a 2.0 and has adequate acceleration. Oh, before I forget to mention, the 320i is fitted with a twin turbo charger system. The 135kw engine is a real gem and delivers great consumption, too. On average we returned real world figures of just under 8l/100km. For those of you thinking that the 2.0l might be a little weak on the towing side think again; this puppy produces 270nm! Fitted with an optional electron tow hitch makes this a stealth caravan towing machine, should you need it of course. 0-100 figures are claimed at 7.1seconds, yet again impressive for just a 2.0.
Our 320i was fitted with BMW’s brilliant Tiptronic transmission with paddles behind the steering wheel. This makes it pretty easy to change gears on demand, especially with all the trucks on our roads and the fact that we often need to overtake quickly.
We were also a little spoilt with our model as it was fitted with the highly intuitive BMW M adaptive suspension. This means that you can change the way the car drives or handles on the road with the push of a button. You can have it in full Comfort; for a softer and more ‘kushy’ drive, Normal; which is a little harder, Sport; which stiffens up the suspension or Sport Plus; which stiffens up the suspension even more and disables the traction control. Sport Plus is really a track day mode and should not be used on the road. However, handling is improved tenfold and there is hardly any body-roll through the bends.
What would a BMW be without a decent audio system? Our model was also fitted with the aftermarket Harmon Kardon sound and I must confess that its brilliant and a definite must-have add on, if listening to music is your thing. Sound remains crystal clear all the way to the max volume limit and it’s really impressive. With on-board USB, Six Cd changer and Bluetooth streaming, you will never run out of things to listen to on the road.
Daytime running lights are becoming the norm on the more luxury brands and BMW has this covered. Our vehicle was fitted with bi-xenon headlights so instead of having halogen daytime running lights, we had lovely white LED based ones. In my opinion, no luxury car should be ordered with standard halogen lights unless the budget does not allow for it. It really is a day/night difference when driving at night. Coupled with high beam assist and adaptive lights, dimming and brighting when driving with your high beams on are automatically dimmed when an on-coming car approaches.
BMW takes safety very seriously and the kit that was available was pretty impressive; from heads up display to adaptive lights, dynamic stability control, a BMW restraint system, 6 airbags and run-flat tires. The obvious kit such as the air bags, DSC, traction control and anti-lock braking is standard equipment though.
The driving characteristics of this car are just brilliant. Having a great chassis, coupled with the brilliant adaptive M suspension, means that you can take an enthusiastic drive on your favourite piece of road with all confidence in mind. Switch the dial to comfort and you would float down the country lanes with minimal fuss.
It’s easy to see now why there are as many 320’s on the road. They offer immense value at R361, 000, and included is your 5 year/100 000km motor plan and maintenance contract. A two year unlimited km warranty is also standard. The 320i is just hard to fault, trust me.
* Price as tested – R603, 689