Touring in First Class

It’s always nice to jump into a brand new car. But it’s especially nice when the car makes you feel like you’ve jumped into the future – and the future feels friendly. BMW’s 2013 320d is remarkable for the series. Normally, the 3 series is the understated small sibling of the 5 series, but this feels like a new era has begun.

Coombes Johnston BMW let me loose with a 320d xDrive Wagon, which turned out to be a totally stunning vehicle, siting very proud with its M Sport package body refinements.

This version of the car is unique, as it’s the first of its kind in the BMW 3 series wagon range with the xDrive 4WD system. This positions the car head-to-head with the Audi A4 Quattro models – and I say – let the battle commence. The car comprises of a 2.0 litre turbo diesel engine, with eight-speed sports automatic transmission, mated to produce a very lively 135kw, but only using an average fuel consumption of just 4.9 litre/100km. Inside, you are totally enveloped in a generous interior, with the M Sport leather seats surrounded by a clear, concise dashboard and simple to understand centre console controls. In pride of place at the centre dash is a large display for the Driving Experience Control/Infotainment system for controlling everything from the radio to your office. Synced to your smartphone via Bluetooth (an iPhone in this case), you get hands-free calling, access to your contacts and emails, or even to your music collection. The list of features in this system are too many to list here, but suffice to say, you can make this car intimately your own.

Out on the road, there’s no other way to describe it, other than being a BMW. If you’ve ever owned or driven a BMW, you’ll know what I mean. Superb comfort, ride quality – and a total sense of being in control. The car has four driving modes, ECO Pro, Comfort, Sports and Sports Plus. By default, the car starts you off in comfort mode, which is a balance of power, fuel economy and ride quality. In ECO Pro mode, BMW’s EfficientDynamics present what can only be described as a challenge. The better you drive, the car tells you how many extra km you’ll get from your remaining fuel – very addictive. Tap the button into sports mode however, and the car suddenly comes alive. You’d think Harry Potter had become a mechanic, and swapped the engine for you while you’re on the move. The additional power is surprising, and puts a very wide grin on your face. For the brave, sports plus (M Sport package only) disables or reduces some of the cars safety features, such as traction control, if you’re looking for that extra bit of excitement.

Other standard options include cruise control, parking assist with rear view camera, and an automatic tailgate opener. Everything about the car just oozes luxury and quality with not a rattle or squeak from anywhere. And with such refined control over driver comfort, from the seat and steering, it’s impossible not to find a position to match your preference. Dual zone climate control ensures comfort for you and your passenger, with clever features such as a fogging sensor, which detects your windscreen fogging up; and the solar sensor measures the intensity and angle of the sun’s rays. Plus the system automatically adjusts the air conditioner’s performance to ensure a steady temperature is maintained. Built in satellite navigation is also a very useful standard feature, given that this car is a natural touring car.

All in all, I am totally impressed by BMWs latest 3 series. The touring range starts at $77,800 for the 318d, up to $112,500 for the 335i or 330d xDrive. The M Sport package is a must have, its additional upgrades in interior, exterior styling and sports extras make the car look and drive beautifully. For only $5500, it’s well worth it to have a truly outstanding vehicle. Our test model, the 320d xDrive, is priced at $84,400, plus it had the M Sport package. If you’re looking for a luxury wagon, test drive this first, second and third. You’ll find it hard to walk away.


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