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Old 10th September 2012, 15:16   #1
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Default BMW 320d & 328i (F30) : Official Review

The F30 BMW 3-Series has been launched in India at a price of between Rs. 28.90 - 37.90 Lakhs (ex-Delhi).

What you’ll like:

• Great styling & presence. None of the quirkiness of the outgoing generation car
• Superb ride quality in all driving conditions. Ideal suspension set-up for Indian roads
• Fast, competent diesel & petrol engines
• Phenomenal 8 speed gearbox is quick & smooth
• Rear seat space has noticeably improved
• Loaded with features & cutting-edge technology
• BMW's 5 year / 100,000 kms service plan is a USP

What you won’t:

• Vague electric steering isn't to an enthusiast's tastes. Not a true BMW steering
• No spare wheel or even space for one! Long-distance touring is a risky proposition
• Back seat lacks under-thigh support for tall passengers
• Rear suspension feels soft under hard driving. E90's back end was more planted
• Top Luxury Plus variant is priced in the vicinity of the BMW 520d & Mercedes E-Class
• Some features missing (folding rear seat, adjustable lumbar support, front parking sensors, height adjustable seatbelts)
• Start-stop functionality is too shuddery & annoying. We kept it switched off

NOTE: Click any picture to open a larger higher-resolution version in a new window

Last edited by GTO : 10th September 2012 at 16:18.
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Old 10th September 2012, 15:17   #2
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Default re: BMW 320d & 328i (F30) : Official Review

The battle between the three German luxury car makers has scaled up to a new level. BMW entered the Indian market in 2006 and overtook Mercedes within 3 years of local operations. Enter 2012 and Audi went blazing past Mercedes, despite the latter having a decade-long headstart. Audi has been doing everything it can to reach the No.1 position, launching a slew of models at competitive prices and outselling even BMW for a month or two in 2012. There's no doubt that sales charts for these carmakers will keep rolling due to their entry-level luxury offerings.

Mercedes launched its C-class facelift in September 2011 while Audi brought the updated A4 in May 2012. It was only imperative for BMW to stay in the game by introducing the F30 3 series within a year of its international debut. Team-BHP was the first to show you scoop pictures of the F30 3-series on Indian shores : Thread link.

Like the rest of the Indian car market, the luxury category is also biased toward diesels. BMW read this well and has launched four diesel trim levels as against a single petrol variant. The pricing of the diesels is usually above the petrol cars. The 3-Series, however, bucks this trend. The 328i out-prices the top of the line 320d by a lakh.

BMW 320d & 328i (F30) : Official Review-bmw-3series-price-comparison.png

This is the 6th generation 3-Series. One look at the new car and it is seemingly obvious that design cues have been taken from its larger sibling, the 5-Series. BMW looks to be making every effort to keep the 'F' chassis cars similar across the model range. The styling has definitely improved and the initial quirkiness of the outgoing model has been wiped away. The lines are now clean and will keep both, young enthusiasts as well as the middle aged office goer happy. The F30 is 93mm longer and sits planted with an aggressive stance. It also looks noticeably wider. The dimensions are substantial for this segment, giving the 3-Series strong road presence.

BMW 320d & 328i (F30) : Official Review-bmw-3series-f30-specifications-comparo.png

The headlamps get trademark corona rings which also work as daytime running lights. The new car would have looked quite similar from the front to the outgoing E90, had the headlights not tapered to meet the grille. The front of the car has square-ish protrusions on the far ends of the bumper. This makes the task of manoeuvring it quite a challenge, as compared to having curvy arcs on the bumper edges. Expect a few scars on the bumper in city traffic. Also, the side skirt is unusually tall for a sedan. The tail lamps wear a typically "BMW L" shape. They do look like scaled down versions of the 5-Series’ lamps. LED brake lights have been omitted and, just like the 5-Series, the new 3 doesn’t get adaptive head lights either. The A4 and C-Class are available with both these features.

We Indians love chrome, but the 3-Series simply wears too much of it. The designers clearly went overboard! There is a chrome strip running on the front bumper, a couple placed in parallel just above the fog lamps, and the rear bumper wears another strip across its length. The headlamps meet the trademark kidney grille with a thick chrome bridge too. Thankfully, the sport variant has been spared the apathy of chrome all over and is much better to look at.

It is noteworthy to mention that the new 3-Series has a 50:50 weight distribution on the front / rear axles.

Side profile is similar to the outgoing car. The nose has been dropped down whereas the rear is marginally extended:

Headlights taper to meet the grille, a design not many will like. Excessive chrome on the luxury variant:

Mini 5-series rear:

17" alloys of the luxury variant. They look flat from the side, but when viewed at an angle, you'll notice the curvature of the spokes. Lowest 320d variant wears 225/55 R16 tyres (best ride quality), luxury line has 225/50 R17 (pictured here) while the 328i wears 225/45 R18 tyres (red car pictured at the end of this post). The tyres are Bridgestone Potenzas, made in Poland:

Overall design language has universal appeal. None of the quirkiness of the E90 3-Series:

A stunning shot! Click on the picture to view the high-res version:

Corona rings / angel eyes serve as DRLs. Turn signals aren't LEDs on the F30 3-Series:

Puddle lamps placed below the door handles are useful during those dark rainy nights:

Even the ORVMs aren't spared the chrome treatment:

Scaled down 5-Series tail lamp:

Rear view camera is neatly tucked away from view:

Trademark BMW shark fin antenna on the roof:

328i Sport Line will be a hit amongst enthusiasts. Looks match the performance on tap:

Chrome bits removed in favour of a classy black finish on Sport Line variants:

Dual exhaust tips are exclusive to the 328i petrol, and have a blackened finish:

Last edited by GTO : 11th September 2012 at 12:16.
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Old 10th September 2012, 15:17   #3
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Default re: BMW 320d & 328i (F30) : Official Review

Typical of European cars, the front doors open in three stages whereas the rear doors open in two. That said, the doors feel surprisingly light (just like in the 5-Series) and lack that solid feeling & “thud” you get in a Mercedes Benz. The 3-Series is quite low slung...the elderly will not appreciate this factor when getting in or out. If you have been in a 5-Series, you'll feel right at home. The dashboard seems like a scaled down version of that in the 5. The cabin treatment across all BMW's carries similar road maps, with a few changes here and there. The outgoing 3-Series wore an all black dash that was quite monotonous; the F30’s has a mix of black and aluminium, coupled with dual-tone beige added on the luxury variant. The beige interior gives a decidedly airy feeling to the car. There are high quality soft-touch materials and rubber plastics everywhere on the inside. The veneer strip running across the dash feels particularly rich. The upholstery continues to be made from Dakota leather as in the earlier car, and is available in four colour options, based on the variant you choose to buy. Our 320d test car wore a beige interior shade while the 328i had black interiors.

Cabin space at the front is more or less the same as in the outgoing car. The front seats offer great support and the lack of lumbar adjustment won’t be missed. Just like other German cars, the upholstery is on the firmer side, though not too hard. The front seats get full electric adjustment. There are also two memory settings for the driver's seat, with an option to revert to the last used manual setting. A nifty feature is that each of the car keys (original & spare) remembers its own seat memory; useful if you are sharing the car with other family members. The seats have a super-long travel range and can easily accommodate the really tall or short built people. From the captain's seat, you can get your perfect driving position within only minutes of adjustments. The dashboard is nicely angled towards the driver by 7 degrees. All controls are within easy reach and logically placed. The ergonomics are actually a bit better as compared to the older 3-Series. For instance, the power window switches are better placed than in the E90. The 3-spoke steering wheel is chunky and a pleasure to use. The only downside here is the super hard horn button which will make your thumb ache on the highway. The instrument cluster is similar to the 5-Series and very easy to read. The gear lever is also shared with the 5 and is an absolute delight to hold. The center armrest is narrow, there will be times when you'll rub elbows with your co-passenger. On the floor board, the pedals are spaced out well in a decently wide footwell. The dead pedal offers perfect comfort even for drivers with size 12 footwear.

The A-pillars aren't too obstructive and you won't have close shaves with bikers due to blind spots. Another reason for the unblocked view is that the A-pillar doesn't stretch too far out. Frontal and lateral views are overall satisfactory. On the flip side, the parcel tray is placed quite high and does interfere with rearward vision. Use the reverse camera that does a solid job in helping you park. Slot the gearshift into reverse and the left-hand-side ORVM automatically positions downward to show you the kerb alongside - this behaviour can be turned off by sliding the mirror selector switch to the left.

A significant complaint we have is that the wipers are awfully slow! With the kind of heavy rains seen in Indian cities, we had to greatly slow down in the exact same situation where other cars were driving faster. GTO & Akshay1234 comment that their Honda's have wipers that clean a lot faster.

Where the older 3-Series had a cramped backseat, the new F30 has noticeably more legroom. Sitting behind a taller driver is no longer an exercise for a gymnast. This 3-Series can now carry 4 taller adults in acceptable levels of comfort (unlike in the E90 3-Series). This is a huge advantage for the new 3-Series in the Indian context. However, the rear seat's under-thigh support for tall occupants is severely lacking. Headroom is just about adequate, albeit a 6 footer will have no clearance from the roof. Due to the tall transmission tunnel, the back seat is best suited for two only. Honestly, cheaper cars like the Skoda Superb beat the 3-Series (and C Class / A4) hands down on backseat comfort.

The climate control kept the BMW's cabin cold at all times. The driver and front passenger have their own independent temperature settings, thanks to the dual-zone climate control. The rear A/C isn't as powerful as you'd expect. While it is capable of maintaining a certain temperature, you will need the front air vents running at full clip on a hot day. Rear passengers get pull-out blinds for both windows, quarter glasses and also an electric blind for the rear windscreen. These do a superb job of keeping the harsh sunlight out.

A single CD unit (DVD in the 328i) replaces the 6-CD changer of the E90. Not that you'll miss the CD changer since most of the world has moved to flash storage for carrying music. The 328i and 320d Luxury Plus variants get an inbuilt 12GB drive that can be loaded with MP3s & navigation maps using the USB port in the glovebox. The BMW's ICE has 9 speakers, including 4" components up front, a loud center speaker on the dash, co-axials on the rear doors and two sub-woofers under the front seats. Sound quality is excellent from the front passengers’ perspective. The clarity is top class, treble sharp and bass deep. However, rear passengers will always get sound from the front as the desired level of loudness is absent at the back. Rear passengers don't get any music controls...neither a remote control nor any buttons inside the armrest. This won't go down well with the chauffeur-driven seths. Interestingly, there are 8 buttons right below the CD drive that can be customized as shortcuts to frequently accessed functions like navigation, sound settings etc. As you slide your finger over the buttons (without pressing) the screen displays what function you have assigned to each button.

Storage is a hit and miss. All 4 doors get pockets while the front two can hold a bottle as well. Both the front seats get seatback pockets that proved nifty to hold the knick knacks (or the iPad). You can lock the glove compartment with the skeleton key and carry it with you, giving only the keyfob to the valet. But the felt-lined glovebox doesn't run deep at all and is surprisingly small. You would expect the driver's center armrest to host a deep cubicle below, but what you get is a shallow compartment. Right ahead of the gear lever are two cup-holders (accessible by lifting a tray cover) and another small cubicle with a lighter / ashtray. There is another small cubby hole under the headlight switch for the odd items. Rear seat passengers get two cup-holders integrated into the center armrest, as well as the door / seatback pockets mentioned earlier. Cargo capacity has gone up by 20 litres to 480. The boot runs deep enough, though the luggage area is only average in height. No, the rear seat doesn't fold down.

The BMW 3-Series excels in the safety department. The Euro NCAP has given this car a 5 star safety rating. The cabin gets 6 airbags, proper 3-point seat belts for all five occupants and hooks for child seats. There is a laundry list of electronics to keep you safe including ABS, dynamic stability control, traction control, cornering brake control and tyre pressure monitoring. The brakes also have "drying" and "fading compensation" features.

The steering wheel is perfectly sized and great to hold. Paddle shifts on the 328i petrol only:

Hard horn pad is quite a stretch for your thumbs. The button labelled "LIM" on the left can set a speed limit (safety, law or efficiency reasons). Phone & audio controls are on the right:

Clear dials with amber lights are nice to look at. MID provides comprehensive data. "Ready" on the tachometer is used by the Auto Start / Stop system:

The center console:

Head-up display (328i only) showing speed:

Among other things, you can even choose the song from the head-up display (and thus, avoid taking your eyes off the road):

Sport Line seats provide great all-round support. Side bolstering is adjustable:

Electric seat adjustment with memory function:

The Luxury Line's seats:

Gearlever is amazingly contoured:

Stereo gets 8 buttons that can be customized as shortcuts to any task:

Dual-zone climate control:

Limited storage space under the driver armrest:

Wipers are awfully slow, even at their highest manual setting:

Door pads get leather upholstery. 4" mid bass placed high up for better soundstage. Front door pockets can hold water bottles:

Power window switches are ergonomically perfect. All windows get one-touch up / down feature. You can pull up the rear windscreen blind at the touch of a button:

Convex ORVM's do a decent job of showing the action behind you. Further accentuated curvature at the far end will help spot that biker wanting to sneak past:

Spacious driver footwell and a large dead pedal too:

The 3-Series gets 6 airbags in all:

Low slung seats don't suit elders or those with bad backs. Useless door pockets at the back:

Improved legroom. Tall passengers will complain of under-thigh support lacking:

Maximum and minimum legroom:

All 3 rear passengers get 3-point seatbelts:

Large transmission tunnel & protruding air-con vents make the 5th passenger an occasional visitor:

Rear air-con vents get temperature as well as flow control:

Two cup holders inside the rear armrest. Stereo controls missing:

Individual reading & cabin lights get cool looking LEDs:

480 liter boot is fairly accommodating:

Shock moment = Owner looking for a spare wheel after suffering a flat. No wheel, no space!

Last edited by Rehaan : 11th September 2012 at 11:02.
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Old 10th September 2012, 15:18   #4
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Default re: BMW 320d & 328i (F30) : Official Review

The iDrive screen has been placed atop the dashboard, as compared to the cocooned unit of the older 3-Series. It is fixed in position and does not retract into the dashboard. Although the placement is higher, it's not obstructive to the driver's frontal view at all; the iDrive display sits at the same height as the dashboard top. The screen is wide and easy to read. The 328i & 320d Luxury Plus variant get 22.3 cm colour displays, while the lesser variants have a 16.5 cm colour display.

Quite a lot of information is cross-shared between the MID and infotainment display:

iDrive controls are very intuitive:

The party trick! Real-time display of power delivery:

Some setting categories on display here:

Efficient dynamics shows your driving style and the resultant effect on fuel economy:

Navigation has multiple display options:

Reverse parking grid moves with the steering to give you a projected path:

Last edited by GTO : 11th September 2012 at 12:19.
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Default re: BMW 320d & 328i (F30) : Official Review

The 2.0L Diesel:

The 320d's engine is the same 2.0 litre turbo-charged 4-pot mill from the earlier E90 3-Series, and is also shared with the currently sold 5 series. The motor puts out 184 BHP (@ 4,000 rpm) and 380 Nm of torque (starting at 1,750 rpm). Employing a twin-scroll turbo has reduced lag to negligible levels, so much so that you'll be hard pressed to notice the turbo kick in. The "twin power turbo", as BMW calls it, is basically a turbo charger that pairs exhaust outlets from cylinders into two separate chambers within the turbo, to avoid interference. This facilitates optimal pressure distribution of exhaust gases into the turbo inlet to drive the turbine more efficiently. The BMW blog has best explained the benefits of this new turbocharger technology : Link.

Driveability within the city is top class, and all that's required for regular commuting is a light tap on the accelerator pedal. Power delivery is linear across the rpm range; there is no sudden surge or "whoosh" at any point of time and this factor does elevate comfort for passengers. The gearbox upshifts early within the city, thus making for a stress-free drive. Puttering about in urban India, you'll seldom get anywhere near 2,000 rpm. Additionally, with a light foot, you could easily get around 9 - 10 kpl. That's not bad for an engine putting out close to 200 horses. One gripe that 3-Series owners will have, is that the diesel engine sounds unusually loud by premium car standards. Also, at higher rpms, the diesel sounds pretty gruff and you're always aware that there is a diesel under the hood. Flooring the pedal results in the engine & gearbox responding instantly. The motor is very free-revving for an oil-burner. BMW rates the 0 - 100 dash at 7.6 seconds. Acceleration is strong at any speed, but thanks to the awesome stability, you don't get a feel of 3 digit speeds until your eyes glance at the speedometer. The mid-range torque packs a serious punch and the pulling power is as good as it gets with 2 liter diesels. Power is readily available on tap for any Indian driving condition. The tall 7th & 8th gear ratios make for relaxed long distance cruising and also result in a great highway tank range (700 - 850 kms). 100 kph is at a mere 1,500 rpm while 120 kph is @ 1,800 rpm. The beauty of this 4-pot diesel mill is that it offers the right balance between performance and practicality. No wonder that the 320d will form 99% of 3-Series sales in India.

Both the engines are mated to a new 8-speed auto box that is manufactured by ZF Friedrichshafen, Germany. The gearbox offers absolutely seamless shifts with no jerks at all. It's a breeze within the city, going about its work in an unobtrusive manner. The average shift time of ~200 milliseconds is fast by conventional auto-box standards. What is distinctive here is that the transmission allows you to play with it, without being too restrictive. It will directly shift down from the 8th to 2nd ratio, when the need be, and is generous with downshifts where others are conservative (due to the resultant higher rpms). The BMW 328i gets paddle shifts, although 320d drivers would have to use the gear lever's tiptronic function for manual shifting. We would rate this transmission as the best in class, and easily up there with the DSGs. The same 8-speed gearbox finds its way into other premium cars like the Rolls Royce Phantom, the Jaguar XF and the Bentley Continental GT. At 90 kilos, it weighs about as much as the outgoing 6-speed gearbox.

The 2.0L Petrol:

In the new world, petrol engines are increasingly downsized for efficiency & economical reasons. Forced induction (turbo-charging or super-charging) & direct injection are also becoming commonplace with European manufacturers. The E90 330i that BMW sold earlier was powered by a 3.0L 6-cylinder engine making 255 BHP (@ 6,600 rpm) and 300 Nm of torque (@ 2,500 rpm). The new F30 328i has a smaller 2.0L engine under the hood, yet the direct injection tech & turbo-charging see it churn out 245 BHP (@ 5,000 rpm) and a diesel-like 350 Nm of torque (starting at a mere 1,250 rpm). Through the 1980s and 1990s, it was Japanese manufacturers who ruled the roost when it came to petrol engines. You only have to experience this 2 liter powerplant, or the Laura’s 1.8L TSI engine, to know how European petrols have left their Asian competition behind in the dust.

When idling, the 328i actually sounds like a diesel! It’s loud, so much so that you'll mistake the clatter for a diesel. At high rpms, the 328i doesn’t sound anywhere as nice as the older 330i did. This is the single downside to the 328i.

Where the 330i was all but dead below 3,000 rpm, the F30 328i offers amazing torque delivery at low rpm. Turbo lag is minimal and the torque spread very wide, helping you when you want to suddenly close a traffic gap or overtake. Driving the 328i within the city is a breeze. Most tasks only require a mere nudge of the accelerator. What you’ll like most about this engine is its Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde personality. While it’s a practical, torquey powerplant in the city, switch to Sport Mode and the 328i goes absolutely nuts on the open road. This is a supremely revv-happy engine, the rpm needle always eager to shoot up to the redline. The 328i’s 0 - 100 acceleration is rated at 6.1 seconds, while top speed is electronically limited to 250 kph. The motor’s power delivery stays strong all the way to the redline. It’s seriously fun to play with the engine on the open road, the 328i capable of “flying low” on good tarmac. The paddle-shifts drop a gear in an instant, and manual mode holds the same gear for you through a corner. The 328i can run at high speed all day in a stress-free manner and there is always ready, reserve power for overtaking other fast moving vehicles. For an engine that’s only a 2.0 L in size, this level of performance is a pleasant surprise.

On the flip side, the 328i is nowhere as silky smooth as the older 330i’s inline-6. Above 5,000 rpm, it is coarse sounding. Enthusiasts will miss a sporty exhaust note at high rpms for sure. A manual transmission option (available internationally) would have been something else.

The 3-Series gives you three driving modes to choose from:

Eco Pro : Provides all-out economy and is designed to keep the fuel efficiency graph high. Throttle response is laid back, the gearbox eager to drive in the highest ratio possible and even the climate control works in a conservative fashion. The 3-Series is equipped with a Brake Regeneration System as well. The onboard computer shows you the bonus kms you've earned by driving on Eco Pro.

Comfort : What you'll be using in your day-to-day usage pattern. Comfort mode strikes the right balance between performance and efficiency. The gearbox also shifts in a very seamless manner, while the steering remains super light within the city.

Sport : Here, the steering hardens up, the gear shifts are faster and more aggressive, the throttle becomes responsive and a different ECU map is activated. The engine holds on to a gear for longer too. Obviously, this is the mode to choose when you are out on a spirited drive. Sport mode does subject occupants to sudden jerks, owing to frequent downshifts for quicker power delivery. You are better off in the Comfort or Eco Pro modes with family on board. Internationally, Sport mode also stiffens up the suspension, but adjustable dampers have been deleted from the India-spec BMW. You can go further to Sport + mode that disables DSC, but enables DTC. While it is also possible to disable the electronic stability program entirely (via a long press on the ESP off button), we don't recommend doing so on public roads.

The Auto Start / Stop System:

In a bid to maximise fuel economy, the F30 3-Series is equipped with an auto start / stop system. Basically, each time that the vehicle comes to a halt, the engine is automatically switched off. At this time, the air-con blower (not compressor) and stereo system continue to function. The minute you lift your foot from the brake pedal or move the steering wheel, the engine automatically switches on. The feature won't kick in until the engine has reached its operating temperature or the climate control has brought the cabin to the desired temperature level. Unfortunately, the engine start / stop sequence is far from seamless. When the engine restarts, it does so with a prominent shudder. After a while, this just gets plain annoying in traffic. We preferred to keep the start / stop system switched off. Wonder how many BMW owners will spend 35 lakhs on the car, and then prefer to save a few drops of fuel with this feature. The other annoying bit is that the feature needs to be turned off every time you drive the car. For a permanent shutdown, you need to drive up to your dealer.

The jury is out on what this feature will do to your engine mounts, as also the turbo-charger which we have traditionally believed needs to be idled before the engine is switched off.

Ride, Handling, Brakes etc.

One of the F30's most significant improvement areas is the ride comfort. Simply put, this is the new segment leader in terms of suspension tune for Indian road conditions. Where the outgoing E90 3-Series had a bone jarring ride, the new car keeps its passengers comfortable over any kind of tarmac. Ride quality is now impressively compliant, even with the 17" wheels of our 320d! Passengers just don't get thrown around in their seats anymore. Low speed ride in the city gets an A+ rating from us. As part of our highway test, we drove through an Indian village that had a fair share of broken roads...the BMW dismissed this patch without breaking into a sweat. The enhanced comfort levels will keep its owners happy, and suspension stiffness will no longer be an area of complaint. Do note that the 328i's ride is firmer than that of the 320d, due to the larger 18" wheels. On a similar note, the base variant with 16" wheels should have the best ride quality of the lot.

The flip side of such a soft suspension is what it gives up in dynamics. Don't get me wrong, the 3-Series has stunning grip levels that are probably equal to the outgoing, stiffly sprung E90. The 50:50 weight distribution and rear wheel drive layout lend the car superb dynamics. The chassis feels extremely composed under most fast driving conditions. If you are an enthusiast however, you will notice that the rear end simply isn't as planted as in the outgoing car. Under hard cornering on our favourite ghat section, the BMW's back end suffered a lot more vertical movement than in the E90. Body roll is also more pronounced. BMW might have softened the rear suspension a bit too much on the India-spec car. The steering wheel is about the right size - not too big nor too small. On your daily drive to work, you will appreciate how easy it is to use in Comfort mode. Women won't complain of a tight steering unless of course, they engage "Sport" mode which adds weight to the steering. Despite the increased length and width, the new 3-Series is quite easy to manoeuvre in the city. When petrolheads hit the highway though, they will complain. Gone are the days of the legendary BMW pure hydraulic steerings; the new electric unit doesn't feel as good as that of the E90. Through high speed curves, the steering feels vague, even giving plastic feedback from time to time. While it is still direct, the lack of feel is what most enthusiastic drivers will complain about. Overall, the 3-Series' suspension & steering have gone mass market, keeping in mind preferences of a majority of its customers.

A major downside is the absence of a spare tyre. Not only that, but there isn’t room for a spare in the boot either. Good luck if you have a flat tyre mid-way to Goa (with Bombay & Goa, both, 300 kms on either side). The maximum distance that you can drive on a punctured runflat tyre is 80 kms. All of this at a maximum speed of 80 kph. I’d much rather pull over and change to a spare in 10 minutes. To add to that, if you drive the stipulated distance on a flat tyre, you will need to replace it. Cost = Upward of Rs. 20,000 each. This is the sore point of owning a Bimmer in our country where tyre failures due to sidewall cuts and blowouts are common place. Click here to view an interesting discussion on runflats. Then, these tyres tramline a lot on bad roads; a very common trait of cars with large wheels & low profile tyres. Lastly, they are noticeably loud and you can hear a mild humming sound on the expressway's concrete roads.

Braking capability matches the power on tap and makes you feel absolutely secure. We tested emergency braking once. The tyres do squeal as the ABS kicks in, but you won't have that hair raising experience at all. The car stops cool & confident in a straight line. The brake pedal did feel more "mushy" than in the older BMWs, giving another area for enthusiasts to complain about.

The 3-Series sits just 140 mm above the ground. Surprisingly, it didn't scrape anywhere during our entire road test (800 kms between both the cars). With 5 occupants onboard, the 320d even cleared a tall tollbooth speed breaker without issue. The rear end doesn't sag under load. This could be the reason that the car didn't scrape anywhere.

Toggle switch to choose the preferred driving mode:

Chosen driving mode displayed on the iDrive screen:

The battery is placed in the boot! There's an entire instruction set you need to follow during replacement:

Small hydraulic dampers support the bonnet:

Press the 'LIM' button on the steering at a desired speed. The green LIM light glows and a green speed marker shows up on the speedo. Accelerating past this speed will not be possible. The speed limiter is bypassed only on accelerator kickdown:

Positive battery terminal in the engine bay for jump starts:

Last edited by GTO : 11th September 2012 at 12:26.
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Default re: BMW 320d & 328i (F30) : Official Review

Other points:

• A big shoutout to Distinguished BHPian Akshay1234 for accompanying us on the test-drive and sharing his valuable inputs as an E90 owner.

• The 328i is sold in the Sport Line variant only. The 320d is available in a base trim, identically-priced Sport Line & Luxury Line variants and a fully loaded Luxury Plus variant.

• With die-hard enthusiasts, the E30 & E46 3-series continue to be the favourites. The F30's suspension is too soft and the steering too electric.

• An F30 M3 should be worth the wait for those who want that "M" badge.

• BMW's optional 5 year / 100,000 km all-inclusive service contracts remain the industry best. Indeed, they give unbeatable peace of the mind.

• Good luck with keeping the beige carpets (luxury variant) clean.

• Peek through the kidney grille and you'll notice that the radiator has been placed far back from the nose of the car. A minor rear-ender won't dent your wallet as much.

• The new car doesn’t get adjustable lumbar support. But the older E90 did, with electric adjustment at that! I guess some things are saved up for the facelift.

• It's the diesel that doesn't get front parking sensors (they are there on the petrol). Since the diesel will form 99% of the sales, the lack of parking sensors has been mentioned in the opening post.

• The speedo dials give out an amber light at night and are great to look at, as compared to the whites most other cars have moved to.

• To auto-fold the mirrors and roll up the windows when locking the car, you have to press the BMW logo on the key fob for 5 seconds.

• ARAI rating : 14.79 kpl (petrol) and 18.88 kpl (diesel).

• If you thought that the dual-clutch DSGs are the only trick in town, you should check out this 8-speed ZF gearbox sometime.

• The previous 3-Series lost a lot of potential customers due to its bone-jarring ride; this one won't. The excellent ride quality would further improve if you switch from runflats to conventional comfort-oriented tyres.

• A stripped down, cheaper "Corporate Edition" will definitely follow in due time. Perhaps in 2013?

• This car's real competitor is the Mercedes C-class. The A4 with its FWD setup, limited horsepower and slow CVT gearbox doesn't come close in terms of performance, dynamics or driving pleasure.

• A space saver is a recommended accessory for those who wish to take the 3 on highway runs. The spare tyre will greatly reduce your boot capacity though.

• The manual handbrake is good or bad, depending on your perspective. Competitors have an electronic setup.

• When the Auto Start / Stop feature kicks in, the tacho doesn't go all the way down. Instead, it stays put at "Ready".

• A large number of exposed wires in the engine bay are rat friendly. There's even space for a rat to make its own house! Make sure you have a safe parking spot, else you are looking at big $$$ bills.

• The tray that covers the front cupholders comes off completely, instead of opening up on hinges. It also carries instructions for safe storage when not in place (i.e. in the glove compartment).

• The boot release button is placed right on the dash and is illuminated for easier spotting at night.

• A dedicated slot to park the key fob is missing. Don't leave it in any cubicle where it's easy to forget. We preferred to keep it parked in our pant pockets. The 3-Series should have had pure keyless entry (like the Nissan Micra & Sunny) to match the keyless go.

• The 3-Series has two USB ports. Connect your MP3 player from the one under the driver armrest. The glovebox USB port is for importing music & navigation maps onto the onboard 12GB hard drive.

• If you want a 328i, RUN! There are only 50 cars allotted for India in 2012.

• Thanks to GTO, Rudra Sen, Rehaan, Parrys & Stratos for the pictures & observations shared!

Last edited by GTO : 14th September 2012 at 10:38. Reason: As per Anshuman's reported post
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Old 10th September 2012, 15:19   #7
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Default re: BMW 320d & 328i (F30) : Official Review

The Smaller yet Significant things:

The Key Fob. Keep the lock button (BMW logo) pressed to close the windows & sunroof, and fold in the ORVMs:

Electric rear blind keeps the sun out:

Rear windows & quarter glasses get (manual) pull-out curtains too:

Engine Start button. The button on top is to switch off the automatic start / stop system (when idling):

The 320d's gear lever is smaller and less chunky than that of the 328i:

Small glovebox gets felt lining and illumination:

Both front seat occupants get vanity mirrors with an LED light:

Amber lighting adds to the warm ambience:

Manual adjuster for the steering reach & rake. Mercedes C-Class has electric adjustment:

Safety feature : Pull the lever twice to open the bonnet. Right above is the OBD port:

Shockingly, no height adjustable seatbelts on the 3-Series. B-Pillar gets curtain airbags:

Rear seat gets useful hook to strap on the child seat:

Perforated leather would have been preferred at this price:

Soft touch plastics feel great. Sport Line variant gets a red strip running across the dash:

Deep & wide front door pockets with bottle holder:

The center armrest sits on rails. Notice traditional handbrake:

A bag hook, strap and tie-down hook in the boot:

Center speaker sits behind the infotainment display on the dash. It's very prominent sounding:

Normal diesel only. No additives

Adjustable under-thigh support on the Sport Line seat:
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Old 10th September 2012, 15:22   #8
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Default An E90 Owner Speaks

An E90 Owner Speaks!

The 3 series is supposed to be the best compact executive car from a drivers point of view. All these years the 3 series has lived up to its reputation, even if it meant sacrificing a few other things like comfort. Read on to see if the F30, the sixth generation 3 series carries on with that reputation -

Team-BHP called me along with them as an owner of the E90, the previous 3 series, so that I could point out whats better, and whats not. I drove the 320D luxury + and the 328i sportsline.

The F30 drawings were out a day or so before I booked my E90, but I still didn't want to wait for it, because at that time I didn't like its looks. In the past year, the F30s looks have grown on me, and I quite like it now, all besides that chrome between the headlights and the grilles (Any F30 owners or potential owners please buy the BMW Performance gloss black grilles to take care of that ). Still personally, I love the sportsline's look, but the luxury trim looks a bit bland to me. Its seems like an evolution of the E90 in many ways (the side profile is almost exactly the same), while the earlier 3 series were very different looks wise from their previous avatars.

It does look a bit longer and wider than the E90. On the inside the extra legroom while not much more, is still certainly noticeable. The width of the car too seems be a few inches more. The interiors basic design is pretty similar to the E90, and again feels evolved. The quality of materials seemed the same to me, with everything built well and sturdy even if a few parts do seem a bit plain or less flashy.

Lets get down to specifics now -

As soon as I got in I felt right at home, the layout was similar to my car and most of the buttons too were in similar places. The new style iDrive screen looks nice, though I wish it did fold into the dash. Also the reflection on this screen is a lot more than mine which has a shroud, but visibility is not hampered since the screen is bright. The sports steering wheel is nice to hold, though larger than the one on the E90, not something I liked. The sports seats on the 328 were brilliant, with adjustable side bolsters and extendable thigh support, something which taller people will appreciate. If looking at the mid models of the F30, the sports seats alone would make me buy the Sportsline over the Luxuryline 320d. Everything is put together extremely well, and there were no rattles from either of the cars, even though I'm sure they had been really pushed. No loss in the solid feeling of the older gen.

One glaring omission is adjustable lumbar support, missing on all the F30s. After both the 320, and 328 drives I felt I needed it. The E90 has 4 way adjustable lumbar support.

The 328 first. I almost mistook it for a diesel at idle, its loud. From inside the car the noise is subdued though. The 2 litre turbocharged engine is a gem. Free revving, torquey all throughout the powerband, and a pleasure to drive. The way this car accelerates will surprise many. Don't let the cubic size fool you, this car is fast. Surprisingly there is hardly any noise from the exhaust, and a sportier exhaust note would have complimented the car nicely. The car doesn't really have turbo lag, but it does get a surge, which is not as prominent as the diesel though.

Next was the 320D. In the F30 this had the exact same specs as the E90 which is 184bhp and 380nm or torque. Obviously the car felt very similar to the older one, though I felt the engine noise inside the cabin was a bit less than in the E90. This is an engine most will like, since its an extremely peppy and free revving (for a diesel) engine. The economy it gives won't wipe the smile off your face which you get after driving it quick.

As with all the newer Bimmers, the F30 too receives the ZF 8 speed gearbox. There is a reason this is going into so many cars, because its great. The shifts are extremely quick and smooth, almost as fast as DSGs. And this doesn't hesitate to downshift. The 328 comes with a sport auto gearbox, which is essentially the same gearbox but with paddles, a different gear lever and the sports + mode. It also apparently shifts quicker. Its worth mentioning the paddles are pretty much instant in the 328, and are a joy to use.

The 8 speed in the 320D is a big step up from the old 6 speed. The shifts are much smoother, and having 8 ratios to play around with helps keep the engine at lower revvs at high speeds. The car feels equally responsive, but the quickness of the shifts are great. One thing I felt was that the 6 speed on the old car feels more raw (much like the E90 vs the F30), while this one feels much more polished. This is not necessarily a compliment. In sport mode though just like the older gearbox its always in the right gear and you have instantaneous power on tap.

Ride and Handling
The 328i on 18s rides better than my car on 17s. That about sums it up lol. The F30 suspension is soft. Its well damped and soaks up bumps well. It went over roads which I wouldn't dream of taking my E90 over at the same speed. On very rough roads too, the car is well composed. Still, hit a sharp bump, and you hear a thud. I was really really impressed with the ride on the F30. The luxury line with 17s rides even better, though surprisingly the 328 is not bad at all. Of course softening of the suspension comes with some negatives. There is perceptible body roll, something which my car does not really have. At highway speeds it feels a tad bit bouncy, compared to the E90 which is glued to the road. On perfectly smooth roads the E90 feels much more stable at high speeds, but on roads like the expressway whose surface has deteriorated the F30 felt better.

As for the handling, thanks to the fully electric steering, there is no feel. This was a big downer for me, even though my car didn't have the full hydraulic unit, it has much much more feel than this. The steering also felt a bit vague in comfort mode, while in sport it firmed up and felt more precise. The handling itself is still great, the car has immense grip even though the runflats start squeeling way too early. Its still chuckable, but the steering doesn't feel as direct and responsive as the E90. The E90 trumps the F30 here IMO.

The top end cars, have features very similar to the E90 Exclusive. The iDrive is a slightly newer one with very minor changes, many will not notice. The iDrive has 2 new displays, Sport display and Efficient dynamics, both of which are unique, but again not something which you will use very often. Navigation is standard, and can be useful for some. The heads up display on the 328i is lovely, not distracting at all. It also gives navigation instructions and even a track list. The hifi speaker system has one less speaker than the E90 which had 10 speakers. There are no speakers on the rear parcel shelf, but there is a centre speaker. This causes the sound stage for the rear passengers to shift to the front. On the whole the music system seemed about the same level as the E90, with the bass possibly being a little better.

Another feature which can be very useful for some, is the limiter function. There is a button on the steering wheel called lim, which when pressed limits the cars speed to the selected speed. No matter how much accelerator you press you do not cross the speed, unless you press the kickdown button incase of an emergency overtake. I think this electronically limits the throttle to use the least amount required to maintain the speed, so it should help fuel economy on long drives.

The interior lights are LEDs are a soft white, they look nice. There are kits for the older cars to upgrade to these to. Surprisingly no LED indicators, seems like they have left this for the LCI.

Another thing which is missing which should have been added are adaptive xenons. These xenons do not corner, and I don't understand why BMW is not adding them to the 3 or 5 series when they are helpful and BMWs competition all have them.

To Conclude
The F30 has progressed from the E90 nicely, and like all the newer Bimmers it does not feel as raw as the old version. BMW is going mainstream. But the car is still fun to drive, better than the A4 and the C250. Yet I wish the adaptive suspension was included as it then could have been that much better with the suspension stiffening up in Sport mode too. Either way, its a great buy, don't think twice about getting it. BTW expect some upgrades and even the new iDrive system from January build cars.
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Old 10th September 2012, 15:35   #9
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Default re: BMW 320d & 328i (F30) : Official Review

It’s known on the forum that I’ve never been a fan of the earlier 3-Series. The frontal design was too weird for my tastes, the backseat too cramped and the ride too damn stiff. The Mercedes C250, in my books, was clearly the superior (Merc reliability aside) and an all-rounded product in comparison. The FWD A4 and its lowly engine + CVT gearbox never made it to the shortlist.

The new 3 Series is, simply put, the new leader of the 30 lakh segment. Amazing mini-5 styling, increased rear legroom and a blow-you-away comfortable ride. The engines are very, very competent. I can’t decide which I like more : The practical, powerful diesel or that insane 2.0L free-revving petrol. But more than that, the 8-speed gearbox makes the others look ancient. I’m as impressed with this gearbox as I was the first time I drove a DSG.

I can live with the steering; though it’s nowhere as pure as the ol’ hydraulics, it’s still very precise. Plus, light steerings are nice in the city. The biggest bone I got to pick with BMW is that rear end that refuses to stay flat under hard cornering. Surprisingly, even my ’05 C220 is so much more planted on fast curves and has less body roll too. The F30 has noticeable bounciness at the back. My second problem is that there is no space for a spare wheel! Why reinvent the wheel? At the least, leave that choice to the customer.

Nevertheless, the 3-Series blows the A4 away, and is easily superior to the Merc C-Class. You also have the superb 5 year maintenance plans that offer stressfree ownership.

The last car that I drove and highly recommended was TEN official reviews back (the Hyundai i20 diesel). The F30 joins my highly recommended club.

*Rates thread a well-deserved 5 stars*

Last edited by GTO : 10th September 2012 at 16:10.
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Old 10th September 2012, 15:50   #10
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Default re: BMW 320d & 328i (F30) : Official Review

The much anticipated review of the most anticipated car. The new 3 series has truly the potential to bring huge numbers for the BMW stable. After all the positive reviews from different media networks, I was eagerly waiting for the tbhp review to come up as it always is the most unbiased one.
So the new 3series indeed is a great car (after all it makes its way to GTO's highly recommended club ). BTW, the alloys on the 328i are the best ones I have seen yet.
Thanx a lot for a great review moralfibre covering all minute pros and cons of the vehicle. Rated it a much deserved five stars.

EDIT: Each and every pic in the opening posts of the review is true wallpaper material. HATS OFF!!!

Last edited by dZired : 10th September 2012 at 16:00.
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Old 10th September 2012, 15:50   #11
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Default re: BMW 320d & 328i (F30) : Official Review

Thank You @ moralfibre & team, for the much awaited review.

Just to add to it which i did not see mentioned above is the 328 comes equipped with " Variable Sport Steering "

Rest covered every point in detail

Originally Posted by akshay1234 View Post
An E90 Owner Speaks!

At highway speeds it feels a tad bit bouncy, compared to the E90 which is glued to the road. On perfectly smooth roads the E90 feels much more stable at high speeds, but on roads like the expressway whose surface has deteriorated the F30 felt better.
I agree to the point where the car feels bouncy , have experienced it & very annoying ( sometimes risky )

Any alterations in tyre pressure can help overcome this by any chance ?

Last edited by karan561 : 10th September 2012 at 16:20.
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Old 10th September 2012, 17:31   #12
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Default re: BMW 320d & 328i (F30) : Official Review

Gorgeous car and nice review! The pics are to die for.

Nice to know that the ZF8 gearbox is right up there with the DSGs in terms of shift speeds. I wonder how long before this technology works its way to lower-segment cars. There is news that Chrysler is adopting it as well.

I have always had a thing for Bimmers and, frankly, I don't see anyone shelling out for an underpowered, CVT-equipped A4 or an "unknown" Volvo with this. Maybe some people prefer he C-class but it's a fair bet this will be new sheriff in town!

@Akshay- nice comparo with the E90, too!
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Old 10th September 2012, 18:01   #13
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Default re: BMW 320d & 328i (F30) : Official Review

Absolutely fantastic review Moralfibre.

I'm in love with the F30 328i. Flagrant omissions aside, it's a great car overall. Sure, BMW has softened the car a tad. But it still is the best enthusiast's car with 4 seats this side of 50 lakhs IMO. Some of the touches like the head-up display that allows you to change the track on the stereo are lovely!

The fact that the rear-seats offer little under-thigh support and minimal leg-room echoes that it's still a proper driver's car.

A great review that's been supplemented brilliantly by Rudra's fantastic lens-work and Akshay's valuable inputs. What more could one want from a comprehensive test-drive report?
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Old 10th September 2012, 18:59   #14
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Default re: BMW 320d & 328i (F30) : Official Review

Super review ! The pictures are really doing the talking, a very fun and informative read overall. Always good to get a view from the previous gen owner and Akshay certainly did justice to give an unbiased review.

A few things BMW should think about apart from the ones mentioned:

Sport seats: Although they are called 'sport' they seem to be more comfortable than the regular seats offered in the luxury trim. BMW should give comfort seats or atleast the sport seats in the Luxury line too to have the features such as under-tigh adjustable support which are a boon on long drives.

Start stop: I don't get why every manufacturer is jumping on this bandwagon, its an annoying feature ! The only time I experience it the most is when I am passenger in my friend's CayanneD and it makes me want to tear my hair even though I am not driving. Moreover from my limited techincal knowledge on engines I do know that frequent startups to the engine will only make the car drink a lot more engine oil besides having effects on the engine mounts and turbo charger(sudden shut off). Hence is there really a saving here ? The gas saving will be far less than the maintenance cost that will increase over the long run.

Refinement: BMW has a lot to learn in this regard. The rivals have always been ahead be it MB,Audi or even VW/Skoda in both diesel and petrol engines. It's sad that BMW has still not caught on with the new generation engines. I'm not one bit skeptical of the 328i's performance as I have first hand experienced the magic of small engines petrols turbo charged in my Superb 1.8 TSi. It truly is a gem of an engine that 1.8TSi, it supremely refined even after 3 years its very very hard to tell if the engine is switch on at idle and at high revs it sounds super sweet. The 328i's lack of refinement and good exhaust note is a big let down.

Last edited by Sahil : 10th September 2012 at 19:03.
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Old 10th September 2012, 19:01   #15
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Default re: BMW 320d & 328i (F30) : Official Review

Excellent review Moralfibre! And the photographs just add to the whole write-up.

I think more than the A4 or the C, the biggest comparison point for the F30 is indeed its predecessor, especially on the negatives mentioned (e.g.; steering feel).

As a premium product, BMW should have given some flexibility to the customers to spec the car – e.g.; runflats v/s regular tyres, sun-roof etc.

A silver F30 with all black interiors in the sportsline trim is my new dream car
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