BMW 3-Series Touring: Options equal expense

Ticking the boxes on the options list

Smarting from losing on the performance front, Simon challenged me on the grounds of value for money. Given that both cars are premium, family estates and both are powered by 2.0-litre diesel engines, you'd think they would cost about the same.

There is a fair difference though. The 320d SE Touring costs £30,030, while the V50 R-Design Sport is considerably cheaper at £26,030. Except the specifications of the two aren't the same. The Volvo matches the BMW's leather interior, CD player and rear parking sensors to name a few, but it also has full Bluetooth phone connection, sat nav and headlights that turn in the direction you are driving for improved visibility at night.

Adding those options to the Touring ups the price another £3,000 plus so the price gap is even more noticeable. BMW does have an equivalent of Volvo's Blind Spot system that is very useful on motorways, but it is only currently fitted to the top of the range 7-Series.

Conversely, Volvo doesn't have the outside illumination of the door handles that the BMW has, again useful when groping for door handles in the dark.

What it does show, is the importance of comparing like-for-like, not only if you are a retail customer, but also as a company car driver where the final list price dictates the amount you pay in tax every month.

Current mileage: 6959

Average mpg: 44.8