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Martin

BMW 320d M Sport Auto

The 535d is in for its first service today, so I've got a 320d M Sport Auto for the day.  It's interesting to compare it to the 320d Luxury I had a very short drive in the other week and I've spent more time driving and poking around this one already.

Its definitely better to drive than the Luxury, so choosing the M Sport isn't just about the styling.  This is on 19" wheels (Luxury had 18"), so that may make a slight difference, but the steering feels sharper, the wallowing has gone, it feels much more willing and I prefer the firmer ride.

It had been parked up over night so I got to experience it from cold and was really surprised at how noisy it was.  I'm sure the 520d wasn't that bad, but if you're coming from a petrol engine I can understand why you might be shocked and maybe a little horrified!Once warmed up, which took twice as long as mine, it is a lot better, but it's still a bit rough and loud when you extend it past 3,000 rpm.

It feels a lot smaller, lighter and more nimble than mine and I prefer the heavier steering, it feels the same in comfort as it does when mines in Sport. What I don't like so much about the way it drives is the rear end when you push it a bit. Traction isn't great surprisingly, but the way the rear end bounces and feels 'loose' when you exit a roundabout is a bit disconcerting.  It was wet this morning which won't have helped so I'll have a run out in it later to find out more, but the 535d has better traction in the same conditions with a lot more torque through narrower rear tyres.

The gearbox doesn't suit the 4 cylinder engine as well as it does the 6 cylinder diesels.  It was the Sport Auto, which is definitely better than the normal one, but it doesn't change as smoothly and makes everything feel a bit more frantic.  

On a more positive note, it's plenty quick enough, very economical (it's doing 50mpg when mine is just under 40mpg) and feels solid and nicely engineered.

It's maybe a little unfair to compare the interior to mine, but at 320/520 level there isn't much difference in price, so it isn't really.  At a first glance it looks good and the primary touch points of steering wheel, paddles, gear selector, iDrive controller etc are all excellent.  However, some of the plastics you touch fairly regularly (short cut buttons, temperature control, volume etc) are really poor in comparison and there are really obvious areas of hard plastics such as the area around the gear selector.   I have no ideas why BMW persist with the useless seat adjustment levers, it would drive me mad.  The seat backrest could do with being longer, the top is level with the bottom of my shoulder blades, so is several inches shorted than mine, but better than a Mercedes seat.

Other things I miss include Auto Hold, Sunroof (very dark inside), decent speakers (sound is OK, but comes from low down in the car), electronic handbrake, front parking sensors and Full black panel instruments.

I didn't have a problem with it having keyless start but not entry, but I don't know why the start button is hidden behind the wheel and if I didn't know better, I'd swear the leather was different as it looks more 'elephant hide' in the 3 than it does the 5.

That may sound all rather negative, which isn't the intention as it's a nice car and I certainly wouldn't be upset if I had to live with one.  Getting the spec right would help a lot (6 cylinder diesel, HK Speakers, Electric seats etc), but unless size is an issue, the 5 series is a significantly nicer place to spend time and it's better value as well imo.

It's white, which I know is generally hated, but I think it suits the car.  Slightly strange spec as it as 19" wheels as a standalone option rather than part of the M Sport Plus pack so it's missing Xenons, HK Speakers etc and the only other option is the Professional HiFi.
Martin

Here it is, parked outside a great store in Northampton.  

JohnC

I think white suits the car well. The 5 series is definitely much better at isolating the occupants from the mechanical noises than the 3 or 4 series and when you get a rattily 4 pot it just exacerbates the problem.

I believe that the latest high powered 4 pot diesels are noiser than the previous less powerful engines but they certainly aren't slow.

EDIT Is that a management parking space or are you just keeping well away from the door bangers?
Giant

JohnC wrote:
I think white suits the car well. The 5 series is definitely much better at isolating the occupants from the mechanical noises than the 3 or 4 series and when you get a rattily 4 pot it just exacerbates the problem.

I believe that the latest high powered 4 pot diesels are noiser than the previous less powerful engines but they certainly aren't slow.

EDIT Is that a management parking space or are you just keeping well away from the door bangers?


Hes actually parked right outside B&Q, where he's nipping in to pick up some DIY materials!  
Martin

It's pretty quick, you don't really need any more, but it is nice to have it and I did miss the torque.

I don't like to park near the door when I visit stores, it's best to leave those spaces for paying customers.  I know space wasn't an issue when I arrived, so I could have parked closer but that space was half way between the store and breakfast!
simonp

The Focus I had the other day had keyless start, but not entry and the button was hidden by the steering wheel, as well. It sounds like it was more refined inside, though, as you could barely tell it was a diesel from the noise it made.
Martin

Giant wrote:
Hes actually parked right outside B&Q, where he's nipping in to pick up some DIY materials!  


I don't do DIY, I've even given up decorating now as its so much easier to get someone in.

I do visit the big orange warehouses fairly regularly as its good to see what the competition is up to, but it's not a store I need to buy anything from.
PhilD

Re: BMW 320d M Sport Auto

Martin wrote:
Getting the spec right would help a lot (6 cylinder diesel, HK Speakers, Electric seats, estate)


FYP
PR

White does suit the 3-series M Sport better than some other cars, but I'd prefer silver. A neighbour has recently got a new silver 325d M Sport with a slightly odd spec - standard 18s but M Sport brakes, no xenons, manual, but it does have pro nav.

I recall from the 320d I had last year when the 130i was having its water pump changed that it's refinement at idle and low speed was not great. Our Clubman isolates engine noise more effectively.
Dr. Hfuhruhurr

I love those wheels
simonp

PR wrote:
White does suit the 3-series M Sport better than some other cars, but I'd prefer silver. A neighbour has recently got a new silver 325d M Sport with a slightly odd spec - standard 18s but M Sport brakes, no xenons, manual, but it does have pro nav.


Isn't the pro nav standard now? I caught part of a radio ad the other day and I'm sure they mentioned that...??
Big Blue

simonp wrote:
PR wrote:
White does suit the 3-series M Sport better than some other cars, but I'd prefer silver. A neighbour has recently got a new silver 325d M Sport with a slightly odd spec - standard 18s but M Sport brakes, no xenons, manual, but it does have pro nav.


Isn't the pro nav standard now? I caught part of a radio ad the other day and I'm sure they mentioned that...??


Isn't that just "Nav" then?
simonp

I'm now starting to wonder if Pro Nav is somehow betterer than the standard fit one?
cbeaks1

The standard one is 'Business', whatever the hell that is supposed to mean.
Big Blue

Pro nav takes you to sports arenas and whorehouse
Business Nav doesn't accept private addresses
Standard Nav only takes you to places with flags outside.

I think that's right.
Martin

You're close.

Business Navigation is standard on all BMWs and has a 6.5" screen and now has perspective views, it used to only be in 2D.  Upgrading to Professional navigation gets you a 8.8" screen (10.5" on the 5 series), hard drive with 20Gb free, real time traffic, touch controller, 3D mapping and the online / remote services.  I think I just missed out on it, but the Professional Nav comes with free map updates for 3 years now as well, which are updated automatically.

I drove it the long way back to the dealers and it's more fun to through around that mine, it feels much smaller and lighter.  That's not a surprise, as the 330d felt the same in comparison.  The traction and rear end in general was even more of an issue when pushing harder and anything more than half throttle from a standing start had the traction light flashing which is mad for a 2.0 diesel with wide rear tyres, even though it was wet.  The 330d was the same in the dry, no wonder the 335d isnt available in RWD.  

The engine is the biggest issue, it was OK at motorway speeds but around town or above 3,000 rpm, it is too rough and noisy.

It was lovely getting back into the 535d.
gonnabuildabuggy

Martin wrote:
I don't like to park near the door when I visit stores, it's best to leave those spaces for paying customers.  I know space wasn't an issue when I arrived, so I could have parked closer but that space was half way between the store and breakfast!


Liar.

That's a lot closer to breakfast than the store.

I was about to ask if it was KFC you were outside? (McDonalds in front of you, Harvester behind I think but can't recall what's in the middle).

I agree the 5 series is seriously better value (in 20d spec at least) than the 3 series.
Martin

gonnabuildabuggy wrote:
Liar.

That's a lot closer to breakfast than the store.




I didn't measure it, but it's not far off!  It's next to Frankie and Benny's, which doesn't open until 9am, so I had to go all the way over to McD's.
Roadsterstu

I watched Chris Harris' test of the 320d M Sport on YouTube this morning. Seriously impressive really. 3 up and full of luggage it was happily being wound up to 140 on the autobahn and still turning in decent mpg. He rather rated it.
As I've said before, my only experience of driving any BMW is the X1 18d Sdrive manual at work and I really disliked it. A lot. I trust the 3 Series is a far better machine?
Martin

I've not driven an X1, but I'd have thought so, depends on what you don't like about it?
Roadsterstu

Just about everything! Maybe the basic X (I forgot it is actually X drive not S drive) drive lower power model we have at work is the dog of the range but I just cannot warm to it. It feels big when it isn't. The steering is heavy. The clutch is heavy. The gearshift is heavy. The basic audio sounds a bit crap.  The engine pulls well enough for its output and revs keenly enough but it makes its presence known.  All in, it's shit.

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