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Old 18th April 2007, 10:24   #1
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Default Tested and RIPPED : BMW 320d!



There’s quite nothing like a garage full of BMWs to wake you up on a lazy Sunday afternoon. After a quick lunch, I headed to test the Bavarian automakers latest Indian offerings. Joining me was a neighborhood buddy and Dad. Dad because he loves to come along for test-drives and watch the rpm needle hover into the red zone.



Chris Bangles weird lines still haven’t grown on me and I don’t think they will ever. I still find the front end quirky and much prefer the previous 3’s clean and proportionate lines. Also, the rear end looks surprisingly ordinary for a 30 lac sedan. The build quality, as expected, is precision redefined. Even when you expect a lot, a BMW will still leave an impression on you.



The alloy wheel choice is horrible. Both – the 16s and 17 inchers – come in very ordinary designs.

It sure is expensive with a 29 lac on-the-road price for the 320i petrol, a 33 lac price tag for the 320d and a 37 lac tag on the full-blown 325 (all Mumbai prices). I would have thought BMW will opt for a more aggressive pricing strategy under-cutting its arch rival; more so in a country where the three-pointed star is so much more entrenched.

The 325i sounds like an absolute MONSTER! If you thought the Vtec is the most revv-happy engine in India, think again. But for the test-drive, we got the 320D. We presume it will be the most popular version in India. I was also very keen on comparing it to the C220 which, after 30000 kms of hard-driving, I know inside out. The first thing that strikes you is the perfect driving position. Somehow, high end German cars have a knack of fitting you like a glove and the Beemer 3 is no different from the Benz in this area. A multitude of seat adjustments and perfect ergonomics make you feel at home. I was looking forward to the drive from Chembur to Thana. And back.

Interiors are well-built and boast of the finest quality materials. But it’s just that. They are not exceptional in any single way and I missed the cocooning effect of the Benz where everything wraps around you. There are no swoops and curves with everything coming across as boxy or rectangular. With respect to the rear seat space, the restriction of the C and the 3 continues. It is a little more spacious at the rear than the C220 but still cramped and can seat 4 at best. No one can sit behind me in the driver’s seat in the C. And no one can in the 3 either. The 325i has much better interiors, what with its iDrive and gizmos but at a 35+ lac price...its in a different league.



Before we hit the highway, there is a 2 km stretch through the backlanes of Chembur. Surprisingly the steering felt very heavy and lifeless at low speeds (below 30 – 40). The 2 liter common-rail is pretty loud from the outside. However, shut the door and the noise is history. Such is the quality of sound insulation. Unfortunately, the manual transmission does not figure anywhere in BMWs Indian plans and the 6-speed auto box is the only option available. It does have a tip-tronic but experience has taught me that the gear lever is best parked in D.

Boys will be boys, and the minute we got on the highway it was pedal to the metal! It normally takes a little time to familiarize yourself with the behavior of a new car, but what struck me most was that I felt at home in 5 minutes flat. The chassis / suspension combo is so unbelievably intuitive and responsive that you feel like its reading your mind. The acceleration is fast and very linear (no torque push in the back like the C220). The engine develops a distinct and addictive road as you climb up the rpm meter but up shifts, even a full throttle, at only 4300 rpm. The mid-range is astounding even for a diesel and the sheer drivability is superb! A word about the auto-box: The automatic gearbox is silky smooth and offers fast seamless up shifts. This is amongst the best auto-gearboxes I have experienced and far superior in response to the Merc E-Class slush box. Even in hard-driving, the BMW returned 8.5 kpl (according to the on-board comp). Sedate driving saw the figure going to 11.

Highlight of the test-drive was a friendly encounter with a green modified Honda 1.5. No difference in performance on the straights but come bad roads / handling / braking, we left him for dead. After 10 minutes, we couldn’t even locate him in the back.

The handling is beautiful, and the overall feel is very agile; agile to the point where the Beemer feels far smaller than it actually is. The brakes are fabulous in feel and in effectiveness. We had a stint where the brakes were slammed at high speed; and the Beemer stopped with no drama and in a straight line. As the speedometer climbed higher, we discovered one huge drawback – High speed stability. It was nowhere as close to the C220 at high speeds (and we have done 240 in the C220). Forget the drivers, even the my Dad and friend on the rear seat complained of a wafty light feeling. I didn’t expect this from the BMW. Even otherwise, the Beemer did not feel as “solid” as the Mercedes.

The ride quality is astoundingly good; and light-years ahead of the C220. The C can be very harsh over bad stretches but the 3 simply wafts over and only a soft nudge of the bad roads reaches the cabin. I expected the ride to be stiff due to the run-flats but the BMW impresses over bad terrain.

My verdict: The 3 is not that much better than the current C as I thought. In fact, both have their own strengths. I would give the engine, interior and stability card to the Benz while the Beemer scores on ride quality and handling. Plus, to me, the Beemer comes with quirky lines and does not have a manual gearbox. If I were looking for a 30 lac sedan, I would wait for the new C. If initial reports are anything to go by, it’s going to be a stonker.
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Old 18th April 2007, 10:35   #2
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Great drive report GTO

Quote:
I would give the engine, interior and stability card to the Benz while the Beemer scores on ride quality and handling
Except for the handling bit (which Beemers are legendary for) I would have thought the situation would be the opposite! Makes you think, doesnt it....

Also, if the current C is so close to teh new 3, one can expect the new C to trounce it comprehensively!
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Old 18th April 2007, 10:39   #3
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Nice first impression GTO. Its a good thing you got to drive the diesel so you could do a direct comparision with the Merc counterpart. I agree with the pricing part I expected to be more competitive but BMW has disappointed. Going by the 3 prices I think even locallly made 5 Series will be priced high too. Another factor I'm waiting to see is the long term reliability.

I guess you went to new dealer at Chembur? Did you get info on the services they will be offering like the warranties etc? What are the delivery schedules like?
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Old 18th April 2007, 10:39   #4
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Hmmm.... That's it.
Somebody has told it clearly. The C is better than it's Quirky competition.

I am surprised how come it wafts at high speeds when it handles well in corners.

Last edited by GTO : 18th April 2007 at 10:43. Reason: Enough of Teri Maka C. Please do not float it around the board.
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Old 18th April 2007, 10:45   #5
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Great review GTO ! Did you get a chance to test the 325i at all?
I am suprised too about the high speed stability issue, after all BMW is known to be the 'Ultimate Driving Machine'. I have to hand it to the C on high speed stability, i never felt unsafe in it even at the 200 mark. Do you think wider rubber could solve this issue for the beamer?
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Old 18th April 2007, 10:48   #6
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Quote:

Except for the handling bit (which Beemers are legendary for) I would have thought the situation would be the opposite! Makes you think, doesnt it....
Absolutely. The lack of security at high-speed left all of us dumbfounded.

Quote:
I guess you went to new dealer at Chembur? Did you get info on the services they will be offering like the warranties etc?
Yup. Infinity BMW. The service is at 12,000 kms / 1 year intervals.

Quote:
Another factor I'm waiting to see is the long term reliability.
Very good point. I dont expect BMW to have as many problems as some C Classes have. They also have a superb ownership package for about 1.5 lacs which covers your Beemer for 5 years. Services and replacement parts included.

Quote:
Somebody has told it clearly. The C is better than it's Quirky competition.
I wouldnt say the C is outright better; but yes the C is very close overall and better in some areas.

Quote:
Great review GTO ! Did you get a chance to test the 325i at all?
Unfortunately not. It was a customers car ready for delivery.

Quote:
I am suprised too about the high speed stability issue
I wouldnt say that the BMW was unstable at high speed. It was very stable, but nowhere close to the Benz. The rubber size was the same as my C = 225s on 16 inch wheels.

Last edited by GTO : 18th April 2007 at 10:50.
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Old 18th April 2007, 11:07   #7
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Impressive write up there GTO, as always.

I saw the 3 series with a temp reg at the March track day (http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/motor-...tml#post399179) and didn't like the rear one bit... Too ordinary. Prefer the ol' beemers anyday.

At least the Front end was not messed up. Wish they had more elegant alloys too.
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Old 18th April 2007, 11:10   #8
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is the suspension and tyres different on the 320d and the 325i? i havent driven the newer mercs but i sure did feel perfectly fine doing about 220kmph in a 2001 330i , cant comment on the Bangled bmw though.

Last edited by cheap_deal : 18th April 2007 at 11:12.
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Old 18th April 2007, 13:37   #9
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Quote:
is the suspension and tyres different on the 320d and the 325i?
Dont know about the suspension but the 325 runs on 17 inchers versus 16 for the 320d.

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i havent driven the newer mercs but i sure did feel perfectly fine doing about 220kmph in a 2001 330i
Again, the stability was fine. But felt lofty only in comparision to the Mercedes.
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Old 18th April 2007, 13:46   #10
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Gret report GTO My cuz got the steptronic 325 i in delhi fully loaded man the car is sweet especially the idrive without it the bmw looks incomplete now the sweetest feature was the blinds on the windows and the start stop button

i took the 325 out at 190+ speeds on the greater noida xpway with the sport suspension and 17 inchers and it felt like it was on rails so smooth maybe the suspension on the 320d had something to do with it .

IMO ( i have driven the 325 extensively and have an e in my driveway and driven the c200 a lot aswell) i would go for the 3 over the C with my eyes cloes if the external lines were that of the e46's (pre bangle)

Last edited by whatcanthisbe : 18th April 2007 at 14:00.
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Old 18th April 2007, 15:05   #11
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525d on road mumbai price individual registration is Rs. 4914375

530i on road mumbai price individual registration is Rs. 5214158

The difference in the features of the BMW and the MERC is a hell lot if u really wanna do a A B comparision...

the 280CDI is at about 50.5 lacs approx on road in Mumbai..

So basically its the same kinda pricing but better feature options in the beemer...

Cheers
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Old 20th April 2007, 19:48   #12
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The wafty behaviour could be a tyre issue rather than a car issue. However, like you said, the New C has the potential to change a lot of perceptions (but then it lacks certain key Benz design features like the wide C-pillar and if you slap in a Hoffmeister kink and the double kidneys you could pass it off as someone from Bavaria)

BTW the 3 series is Minimum Bangled.
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Old 20th April 2007, 20:28   #13
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Quote:
Dad because he loves to come along for test-drives and watch the rpm needle hover into the red zone.
Fantastic review,must add you are quite lucky.However would love to hear what's your dad's take on the car,would he go in for the bmw or the merc if given a choice.

Bmw 3 series was always called the drivers car while mercedes the more comfortable[better interiors etc].

What I had heard was the bmw is quite composed and impressive even at high speeds,However The run-flat technology does have some issues and even some bmw engineers are not happy with the run-flat tyres maybe in this case too the tyres could be blamed.

Last edited by rahul_intlad : 20th April 2007 at 20:41.
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Old 21st April 2007, 03:50   #14
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I just test drove an E36 1994 325i Manual. As part of my car Hunting upon coming to US on official assignment for a year.The car exhibited the same wafting at interstate speeds. Maybe the tyres need balancing.

Moreover the exhaust was also wee bit loud (but not loud enough to suggest that the muffler was bust).
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Old 21st April 2007, 08:04   #15
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Good review, reflects my quick drive in the 320i. just read the latest CAR,( UK edition) it rates the new C highly. 330i is a highly focussed driving machine but new C is the better all rounder
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