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Land Rover
Test Drives
20 Oct 09 20:37
B.M.W. 320d (Diesel) The Ultimate Driving Machine?
John K. Lindgren
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In German "Deutsch" this car "Das Auto" - is called the BMW "dreier" . The "three". It is also known as the 3-series a four door, sports saloon.

The corporate PR dudes call it the "Ultimate Driving Machine", in Thailand it's "Bee Emm" and some say the "Beemer" or just B.M.W. which stands for Bayerische Motoren Werke in English: the Bavarian Motor Works with headquarters in Munich southern Germany.

Featured here in CarSanook.com is the new model 320d. Model three or three series. The "D" for Diesel. (After the inventor German engineer Rudolf Diesel).

The new three series diesel is no "oil burner", as some motoring hacks still like to call diesel powered vehicles. But a masterpiece of modern automotive engineering; common rail technology and perhaps the most advanced diesel motor available today in terms of performance and fuel consumption. They call it "Efficient Dynamics" a la BMW jargon.

The 320d is part of BMW's "torque of the town" exclusive diesel collection consisting of the 320d, 520d saloons, the SAV (Sport Activity Vehicles); the X3 2.0d, the X5 3.0d and the ueber luxurious long wheelbase, four door, super saloon the "7-series 730L d. The flaghip. Now, also available in Thailand.

These amazing, efficient, clean and powerful engines totally differ from those old smoke belching and rattling diesels of yesteryear; the rusty Datsun pickups, the 10 wheel container trucks and the smoky State Railway of Thailand's yellow locomotives.

The "torque of the town moniker" refers to their impressive pulling power and the amazingly low (Diesel) fuel consumption i.e. "efficient dynamics".

In the neat engine room of the 320d we find a 4-cylinder 2.0-liter diesel engine, loaded with advanced Diesel technologies such as variable turbo, the 3rd generation common rail direct injection technology.

This diesel delivers 177 hp at 4,000 rpm and a maximum torque of 350 Nm at 1,750-3,000 rpm. Coupled with the silky smooth 6-speed automatic gearbox with Steptronic function this BMW Diesel is capable of accelerating from 0-100 km/h within 8.0 seconds; making it the fastest sedan in the segment.

Thanks to the Efficient Dynamics technology, BMW 320d has not only impressive performance, but also a fuel consumption of 16.7 liters/km unheard of in sport sedans. A full tank 60 liters will take you 900 kilometers. That's Bangkok-Hatyai direction south or Bangkok-Chieng Rai driving north. No refuelling needed. This is called fuel economy.

So what is the 3-series line up?

The "Bee Emm" Munich boys they know because they designed and built the world's first sport saloon: the legendary: 2002tii in 1972, a giant killer with tricks up its sleeve - like disc brakes and a fuel-injected overhead-cam engine - BMW was on its way to becoming, as its advertising tag-line later heralded, the "ultimate driving machine." And it did. The three series became the best seller both in the UK and USA.

The CarSanook demo unit was the metallic black sapphire 320d with crimson red number plates.

I can see straight away this is a driver's car. Visually outstanding: the circular blue & white BMW iconic logo and those cool chrome inlayed double kidneys.

Note the bulging wheel arches and the short over hangs. Tight dimensions and a pure sport saloon look. Not withstanding, the diminutive shark fin styled antenna on the roof. The curb weight of the 320d is 1,500 kg perfectly balanced between the front and the rear wheels offering maximum road holding. The 17 inch alloys shod with run-flat tires. Auf Wiedersehen to roadside tire changes. And more space in the trunk, too.

The cockpit and cabin has this unmistakable scent of premium BMW Montana leather, wood inlays and fine upholstery. Front seats are electrically operated. Comfortable and sculptured. Adequate space in the rear seat for the passengers. Armrest and cupholder included. This is as good as it gets. Form and function. The German automotive industry "Auto Industrie" is obsessed by Form & Function and power just look at any Audi, Mercedes Benz, Volkswagen or Porsche. That's why they have "Autobahns" where you can go flat out 300 kph if you're good for it and your car is equally good for it.

To enhance safe driving, the headlights are super bright Bi-Xenon lamps with automatic light on-off function. A number of luxury comfort features are also present in BMW 320d, for example, comfort access, which allows the car to be locked-unlocked, as well as engine start-stop button, and the ergonomic multi-function steering wheel, with the info-tainment system and the Bluetooth connection enabling a hands-free communication. Two hands on the wheel! No more dangerous fiddling around with the mobile phone. The multifunction steering wheel should be standard in all cars passenger and commercial!

Thanks to it's tremendous amount of torque the 320d is great for city driving. Just a light tap on the pedal and the car accelerates swiftly between the traffic lights.

Getting bored at Asoke intersection in the rain. Friday end of the month! Ten seconds and then red light again! idrive will help you. Turn it clock wise and click; Thai TV 3,5,7, 9 or 11 appears on the monitor. Or switch to DVD and watch as long as the vehicle is stationary. Once the car is moving you can still enjoy listening to Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie - but only the soundtrack.

But to fully understand (and appreciate) the performance of this "Wunder Wagen" - BMW the 320d - you have to get out of Bangkok and hit the open road. The highway; the "Autobahn".

And step on it... Because this is a driver's car, par exellence. Once we're on the Lamlukka bypass. I start to overtake. It's so effortless. Buses, heavy Isuzu pickups, Honda's, Toyota's, Mitsubishi's and Nissan's nobody to challenge me.

The steering is razor sharp. The brakes are German - BMW standard. The music is ABBA's Dancing Queen - my wife's request!

Not my type of music really but a damn good track when driving a BMW 320d turbo diesel on the Nakhon Sawan Thai "autostrada" direction NW at 180 kilometer per hour.

Freude am Fahren what's that in English? Or was it the "ultimate driving machine?" In conclusion: Is there any better pedigree sport sedan for THB 2,699,000 in Thailand today? Is there a better 2 liter high perforance diesel anywhere?

BMW 320d

Engine: Four-cylinder 2-liter turbo diesel with a 6-speed automatic transmission

Horsepower: 177 bhp

Acceleration: 0-100 kph in 8 seconds

Top speed: 228 kph

Fuel consumption: 16,7 kilometer per liter

Price: THB 2,699,000

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