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BMW 3-Series (E90 E92) Forum > BMW E90/E92/E93 3-series General Forums > General E90 Sedan / E91 Wagon / E92 Coupe / E93 Cabrio > AUS 320D review "out accelerated the 2.5-litre six-cylinder in the hilly c..."



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      07-31-2006, 01:20 AM   #1
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AUS 320D review "out accelerated the 2.5-litre six-cylinder in the hilly c..."

Australian Launch
Adelaide (SA), June 2006


What we liked
>> Turbodiesel/auto match
>> 3 Series chassis
>> Civility and range

Not so much
>> Solid premium over petrol (like 120d)
>> Options are $$$$$$
>> Runflats still degrade ride


BMW trumpets the awards the diesel-powered 320d has gained. Variously, the plaudits have crowned the car as a real world gem -- one English magazine even suggested it was the best car in the (real) world.

There's no doubt the 320d's an attractive package -- for a start, look at the base upon which it's built. Arguably the most attractive of the current crop of BMWs, the E90 3 Series released in early 2005 is simply a very accomplished car. It delivers more space than the last generation of 3 Series (in BMW-speak the E46), features state-of-the-art safety and driver aids and yet has all of the driving pleasure and brio of earlier 3s.

The success of the 320d is that it manages to continue to deliver the same dose of brio despite its compression-ignition engine and auto-only transmission specification.

If you're a regular reader of car reviews online or off, we're probably labouring the point, but the modern diesel is a far cry from the clattery, smokey and lazy industrial engines of old. Whatever the brand, typically these are engines that are free revving (though over a narrower rev range granted), muscular in the midrange, quiet and smoke and fume free.

Powering the 320d (and the powertrain-sharing 120d -- click here for more details), BMW's latest 2.0-litre DOHC four-cylinder diesel is a thoroughly modern unit that features high-pressure common rail electronic injection and a computer-controlled variable geometry turbocharger. It's also intercooled and features a multi-phase injection cycle for lower emissions, reduced diesel clatter (typically caused by pre-ignition of fuel in the combustion chamber rather than anything mechanical) and more power and torque.

Though economy is a catch cry of diesels -- BMW quotes a combined figure of 6.7lt/100km for the 320d compared to 7.9 for its petrol equivalent, the 320i -- new-generation turbodiesels are also about usable and useful real world power.

The 320d's engine is more powerful than its petrol stablemate and a lot torqueier. With 115kW and 330Nm at 4000 and 2000rpm respectively, it compares to the 320's 110kW/6200rpm and 200Nm at 3600 revs.

Not surprisingly given the torque figure (nearly 10 per cent better than a 330i) BMW quotes acceleration times for the 320d that are substantially better than the petrol two-litre -- 0-100km/h in 8.9 v 9.7sec.

Though we haven't had the opportunity to drive the 320i and 320d back-to-back, we're betting the in-gear performance gap will be even more marked. Launched alongside the six-cylinder 130kW 323i Touring we can vouch for the 320d's pace -- it readily out accelerated the 2.5-litre six-cylinder in the hilly country to the east of Adelaide.

It's not slouch in the twisties either. BMW quotes identical weights for the diesel and petrol 320 and trumpets the 3 Series' 50:50 weight distribution. In practice there's little if any nose-heaviness in the 320d and it would take a better educated butt than yours truly to pick the difference between variants on the road.

As always the 3 Series chassis delights with its accurate turn in, great levels of grip and standard-setting compromise of ride and handling. The fact that the 320d we drove wasn't over-tyred helped the ride part of the latter equation. BMW's dedication to run-flat tyres means there's still room for improvement in tyre compliance but the E90 3 Series represents the best incarnation yet of run-flats in terms of ride comfort.

BMW's Steptronic six-speed auto combines well with the turbodiesel's torque-rich delivery. You'll be tempted to use its manual mode but in 99 per cent of driving the standard or sport auto settings leave little to be done. Let the smart transmission do the work and progress is smooth and deceptively quick.

Noise-wise the bigger 3 Series chassis and its accoutrements mask the touch of diesel rattle the two-litre exhibits at start up. On the move the low-strung feel of the powerplant makes the drive perhaps even a touch more serene than the petrol four-cylinder car.

Two versions of the 320d are offered by BMW. The 320d kicks off the offer at $$56,700 and the 320d Executive -- like the petrol 320i Exec (for more information click here), expected to be the biggest seller -- weighs in at a not insubstantial $61,500. The spec levels across the petrol/diesel cars are identical so the $3300/$3200 premiums are purely diesel driven.

FYI BMW asks a $3000 premium for the 120d over the auto 120i.

Like all BMWs the option pricing is breathtaking -- most of the 320ds on the launch had 'as-tested' pricing close to $80K!

As we've noted before, the logic of buying a diesel to save money is flawed -- unless you're logging mega-km a year. Considering the 320d as a low-fuss, torquey and thrifty alternative to say a 323i or 325i or its other prestige equivalents is probably more to the point.


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      07-31-2006, 08:30 AM   #2
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Nice find Paul.
I still prefer post-4000 rpm of the 330i petrol!

All the best.

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      09-15-2006, 01:23 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 1stnewcar
BTW - if its been posted before - shoot me.
That's the spirit! Good read, btw and thanks for posting despite risk to life.
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      09-15-2006, 02:35 PM   #4
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Good review-FYI the NA 325 has the 3.0 engine and higher horsepower and torque than the Euro 323 with the Euro 2.5 engine

That said, I hope that soon BMW will offer diesels here - California can you hear me
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      09-15-2006, 05:58 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 1stnewcar


Though we haven't had the opportunity to drive the 320i and 320d back-to-back, we're betting the in-gear performance gap will be even more marked. Launched alongside the six-cylinder 130kW 323i Touring we can vouch for the 320d's pace -- it readily out accelerated the 2.5-litre six-cylinder in the hilly country to the east of Adelaide.
I recently had a 320d for the weekend while my 325 had a complete software update.

No way known was the 320d even close to out accelerating my 325. It was slow, sluggish, very linear in its pickup and unless the tester was in 6th gear in the 325 and 2nd in the 320d, then maybe. Otherwise my experience with the 320d was underwhelming. And that is being kind.

I got back into my 325 and I had instant and ample acceleration from the word go, not slow and linear like from the 320d.

Yes I was on hills as well as flat terrain.
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      09-23-2006, 01:28 AM   #6
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agree with david325aus.

I did the comparison with 5 people in the car. 320D is way slow, even floored vs non floored 325
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      09-23-2006, 02:57 AM   #7
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Well a 320d is bound to our accelerate a 320i - It has a horspower advantage (163 hp vs 150hp) and a huge torque advantage.

The old 320i with 2.2 litre 172 hp engine would have had a some chance to compete.

The current 325i with 190 odd hp should out accelerate the 320d in hilly country (provided the driver remembered to keep changing gear).

The in gear acceleration times for the 320d are as good (or better) than the 330i.

Coming from a diesel I still forget to change down and realise I am going at 2.0litre golf tdi speed then I drop it to 2nd at 50 and am off like a rocket .......
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      09-23-2006, 06:54 AM   #8
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I drove the 265hp Z4 coupé 3.0Si this morning and found it seriously lacking in grunt. I must be too used to shed loads of diesel torque?
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      09-23-2006, 09:48 AM   #9
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just curious, a 320si can still match a 320d? anyone raced the 2 cars on a straight?
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      09-23-2006, 02:11 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul330d
I drove the 265hp Z4 coupé 3.0Si this morning and found it seriously lacking in grunt. I must be too used to shed loads of diesel torque?
You probably forgot to change gear ......

Theres more poke than the diesel - you just need to work at it.

Drop it into 2nd at 50 and floor it ... that's put a smile on your face
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      09-24-2006, 02:36 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by needforspeed
You probably forgot to change gear ......
It was the automatic When I floored the throttle, the gearbox did drop a lot more cogs than it does on my car, bceause of the broader rev range available on the 3.0Si, but all it seemed to do was make more noise. The acceleration was there...just, but it seemed as if the engine couldn't really be arsed...
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Last edited by Paul330d; 09-24-2006 at 10:03 AM.
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      09-24-2006, 10:08 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul330d
It was the automatic
That's the problem.

They shouldn't allow auto z4's

Having owned a 3.0d and a 3.0i I have to say there is not much difference.

If you get it right - the petrol is faster (just) if you get it wrong the diesel will forgive you.
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