BMW 320d M Sport saloon : Goodbye

  • Our BMW 320d has gone back, but replaced with 420i XDrive Gran Coupe
  • Impressed all with comfort, refinement, driving dynamics and on-board kit
  • Disappointed with 46.6mpg economy over 6,000+ miles

The last long termer I had, our Ford Fiesta ST, ingratiated itself so deeply into my daily life, I ended up buying it rather than handing it back. So far I couldn’t be happier, but if that was to happen with every long-term test car I have the fortune of running here at Parkers I’m going to end up with more debt than Greece. And a rather unhappy fiancée.

Now, not all of my acquaintances get so far under my skin, but it’s only gone and happened again; it’s time to give the 320d M Sport saloon back to owners BMW, and it’s another change I’m struggling to come to terms with.

BMW 320d driving

I’ll get this out of the way early; the only way this car could’ve been more complete in my eyes, is if it’d been a Touring (estate) instead. While I’m here, I’ll also apply the worst motoring cliché imaginable to it – our BMW 320d M Sport was the consummate all-rounder.

When it arrived I was slightly aghast at the bright red leather interior. The outside was all business grey (Mineral being its official name), set off by a handsome (but not overtly showy) foursome of multispoke 19-inch alloy wheels and the subtle M Sport bodykit. But inside it was all techno-rave party red (officially Coral Red), and I was left wondering what Messrs Harrison and Ward from BMW’s press office were smoking the day they specced it.

BMW red interior

However, I learned, without much in the way of lesson I hasten to add, to love it. In a sea of black-on-black interiors that typify this middle-class and middle-road segment, the vibrancy of YH14 VJP was a breath of fresh air. I’m not convinced it’ll age as well as black leather, as every used car I’ve seen with red leather exhibits especially obvious shiny bolsters and ingrained dirt, but ours still looked factory fresh when it returned with 8,217 miles on the clock.

But it was the sheer breadth of VJP’s abilities that impressed the most; whether it was a 200+ mile motorway jaunt or a series of challenging S-bends on a local backroad, the BMW managed to tread the finest of lines between comfort, balance and poise. The adaptive dampers (£515) did their best to smother any imperfection the run-flat tyres encountered while containing any body movements otherwise expected and refinement and comfort was up there with the very best.

BMw 320d snow

Only the occasional chatter from the 2-litre diesel engine during a cold start took the shine off the executive saloon experience. On the move that was reinforced by the eight-speed Sport automatic gearbox which swapped cogs with the minimum of fuss, unless you were employing the steering wheel paddles for manual mode or Sport+ setting where the odd thump in the back detracted from smooth progress.

It proved perfectly practical at transporting objects and humans, and everyone who rode in the car complimented it for refinement and comfort. I really grew accustomed to the I-Drive controller and when night fell the incredibly effective adaptive headlights made night time driving easy.

BMW economy

If anything disappointed it was the fuel economy. Famed for its efficiency I had high hopes for the 3 Series but it just never quite delivered in our hands – well, not consistently at least. Still, a calculated figure of 46.6mpg wasn’t too bad. The only faults we experienced were a broken reversing light and the 320’d reluctance to charge my iPhone 5 properly through the USB port in the time we ran the car.

So now YH14 VJP has gone back to BMW, but it’s been replaced by a BMW 420i xDrive Gran Coupe which Kieren is running so my saviour is in sight. If it’s half as good as our 320d, I think I may have job on my hands prising the key’s from Mr Puffett’s grasp to find out though. 


Mileage: 8,218 miles                                                           Economy: 46.6mpg (calculated)