Fleet News

BMW 318d and 330d

BMW

Review

HOW worrying must it be for BMW’s prestige rivals when you consider that the 3-series is one of the country’s top-selling diesel cars with only one model available.

The 320d has been flying the flag for BMW since it was earlier this year, and latest sales figures show it is the ninth best-selling diesel in the UK fleet market, with sales up 10.6% year-to-date.

Such a performance from a single engine range flies in the face of the efforts of Audi, Jaguar and Mercedes-Benz, which all offer a multiple choice of oil-burning models.

So things are only going to get worse for the rest now that BMW has topped and tailed the 3-series diesel line-up with the entry-level 318d and the range-topping 330d.

The 318d uses a detuned version of the 320d’s 2.0-litre engine, offering slightly better CO2 emissions (150g/km v 153, putting them both in the 17% benefit-in-kind band until the end of this year) and improved fuel economy of 50.4mpg compared with the 320d’s 49.6.

While these aren’t massive improvements over the 320d, the 318d does have a lower price – offering a saving of just over £1,000. This means lower company car tax bills.

A 318d will cost a 40% taxpayer £124 a month, compared with £130 for the 320d.

It’s not much of a saving, but the lower front-end price may bring a 3-series diesel into more drivers’ choice lists, as BMW expects it to be a big corporate seller. At the other end of the spectrum, in price and performance, is the 330d. Until the M3 arrives some time next year, this is the fastest point-to-point 3-series you can buy, thanks to a monumental 369lb-ft of torque available from just 1,750rpm. For senior management who don’t need a 5-series-sized car, this is well worth considering.

BMW hasn’t finalised sales expectations for the new additions, instead saying that it will react to market conditions.

If more buyers want a 318d, then the factory will ramp up production of it at the expense of the 320d and 330d.

What you can guarantee is that the two new models will only push 3-series sales one way – can it be too long before it is in the top five fleet diesel sellers in the UK?

Behind the wheel

IT IS hard to believe the 318d and 320d share the same engine, as they feel poles apart. The 318d loses 40bhp from the 320d, and this becomes apparent the moment you set off. Gone is that initial surge which you get in the 320d, replaced by an engine which needs to be revved to extract the most performance, and which doesn’t really suit being revved either.

With 122bhp it’s on a par with entry-level diesels from rival prestige brands, and on paper its performance isn’t too bad, but the 318d suffers from being closely related to the slightly more expensive 320d which offers a far better drive.

There are no such complaints in the 330d. This car rockets away in a seamless band of power. In six-speed Steptronic automatic guise, the 330d is an amazingly effective car in getting from A to B in comfort and style.

To add to the mix, it will also return more than 40mpg, which makes it an awesomely capable all-rounder.

Driving verdict

THE 318d is a disappointment thanks to an engine which feels strangled. The 330d is a delight, offering serious pace, impressive fuel economy and great driving dynamics. If your drivers can’t stretch to the 330d, steer them away from the 318d and into the 320d. The extra £1,000 is well worth it.

Model: 318d 330d
Max power (bhp/rpm): 122/4,000 231/4,000
Max torque (lb-ft/rpm): 207/1,750 369/1,750
Max speed (mph): 128 155 (limited)
0-62mph (secs): 10.6 6.7 (6.8)
Fuel consumption (mpg): 50.4 43.5 (38.2)
CO2 emissions (g/km): 150 174 (197)
On sale: Now

Prices (OTR): 318d saloon £22,215–£25,905, 330d saloon and Touring £29,390–£33,290. (Figures in brackets for 6-sp Steptronic automatic)

CO2 emissions and fuel consumption data correct at time of writing. The latest figures are available in the Fleet News fuel cost calculator and the company car tax calculator.

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