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Alf McQueef

BMW F30 316i sport saloon

Not a proper test, I only drove it 15 miles home, I doubt I can be arsed to take it the long way back to the garage later.

Some impressions though.... The engine is very gravelly at startup and low revs, I thought it was a diesel initially and checked the red line to be sure it was indeed a 316i. However, it feels much pokier in normal driving than you might expect from the badge. BMW's with the smaller engines are quite understated in this way - all the "20i" get a 182 bhp engine and all have high torque.

This is my first experience of the ZF 8 speed auto, and it changes gear much the same as my ZF 6 speeder - except that in one's mind transmission and engine get blurred together in an auto, the result being an impression that the gearbox is less smooth than the one I am used to, which I am sure is just my engine giving the gearbox an easier time.

It does feel bigger inside than mine, and personally I prefer a hatch or estate to that the back window is at the back of the car - knowing the boot is sticking out beyond what I can see makes me feel a bit claustrophobic. Without poking around it on the drive like a saddo I would not say the interior feels any better or worse than the equally new 1 series loaners I usually get. It is very comfortable and easy to settle into.

Tech wise I never got any return (except potentially worse safety) for messing around with all the menus while driving the various 1 series, and given who I work for I was amused to see loads of sucker marks from satnavs on the windscreen despite the fact this car has nav. One excellent thing is the HUD displaying speed - the first time I have used it, and it is excellent. In an auto, I don't need much else from the dash.

Driving wise, it was showing 35MPG average - I'll remember to reset it to drive back to the garage (I normally get 30MPG from cold in mine for that journey). Quoted combined MPG is only 48, compared to 38 for mine, 272bhp vs 136bhp, hardly an epic improvement for an entirely new model with a new gearbox, 7 years on. Thats where the diesels score I suppose. The steering is a little odd, with some artificial feedback, otherwise it is standard BMW fare of decent (if firmer than mine) ride and good handling. It has a lot of road noise, despite tyres the same diameter and width as mine, and higher profile. Could be the RFT, could just be these Dunlops, but it makes a lot of noise at 70.

It's a fine car, but personally if I was going to have something with a 1.6 engine in it, I'd have a 1'er...

I was dissapointed by the refinement, specifically tyre and wind noise, in the 330/335d's I drove and agree that the interior doesn't feel like a step up from the 1 series.  

Whatever the engine, I can't believe you're not taking the long way back and driving it in the proper loan car way!
Alf McQueef

I took it back and collected mine (looking like its been cleaned by a 6 year old).

In sport mode - in urban driving - the 316i feels surprisingly peppy. I bet it feels nothing like mine when hauling off a big NSL dual carriageway roundabout - modern cars are set up to feel artificially quick in their "sport" modes but it can't fool you away from town.

I don't want to seem one of those people that slags off all loan cars and looks for faults, but actually I thought it was bloody noisy on the way back, and I far prefer the screen-less dash and smaller, thicker steering wheel of mine...

Mine is not being fixed until 7th Nov which was the next loan car free - the bearing was 48 hr delivery so my plan to keep the loan car one more day and leave mine there failed. I may get a local garage to do it! I doubt it would be much more than my 100 warranty excess to change one wheel bearing (which is what they confirmed it needs)...

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