Jaco Van Der Merwe

By Jaco Van Der Merwe

Head of Motoring


BMW 320i the most complete 3 Series you will ever need?

Even without additional equipment, the 320i is still a very good car that offers a premium ride with oodles of space and oomph.


Since the local launch of the seventh generation BMW 3 Series early last year, we have covered the popular sedan extensively.

Apart from our scenic launch drive in the Western Cape with the first two derivatives on offer, the 330i and 320d, Mark Jones also put the very same two models through their paces during his high performance testing at Gerotek. And he returned there recently with the M340i, the hottest M derivative in the 3 Series before the M3’s arrival.

So, despite being spoiled with all the range’s best offerings, did we turn down the opportunity to spend a week in the more basic 320i? Hell no. For the simple reason that despite this model being the entry level option without the real grunt and some niceties, it’s still the same car which offers as good a drive as you’d expect from a 3 Series. And it will undoubtedly be the range’s volume seller until at least the 318i debuts later this year.

Like the 330i, the 320i features a 2.0-litre, four cylinder inline turbo petrol engine, but it’s detuned to produce 135 kW of power and 300 Nm of torque. This is sent to the rear wheels via an eight-speed Steptronic gearbox. BMW claims it can reach 100 km/h from a standstill in 7.1 seconds and we have no reason to doubt this, nor the top speed of 235 km/h.

Where we did differ quite a bit from BMW is with the 320i’s fuel consumption. We only managed 10.3l/100km which is quite high compared to the very economic claim of 6.4l/100km. Truth of the matter is, the 320i’s grunt is more than adequate and probably still more than the average 320i owner will ever need. It’s no wonder the same B48 powerplant can be detuned further for the 115kW/250Nm 318i later this year.

Our test model was the Sport Line option, which at R666 636 features upgrades like sport leather steering wheel and sport  front seats in addition to the R643 036 base 320i model. The drawback, however, is you’ll have to cough up a lot for the fancy driving systems BMW made a big deal about when the new 3 Series was launched. Even the impressive 12.3-inch instrument cluster is an optional extra on the 320i, which comes standard with an analogue display.

You have to fork out R24 000 extra for the digital cluster as part of the BMW Live Cockpit Professional 7.0. But even without additional equipment, the 320i is still a very good car that offers a premium ride with oodles of space and oomph to get through your daily rounds in comfort and style. And that takes some doing for a sedan in a world that is going bonkers for SUVs.

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