Fleet News

BMW 320d Sport - 5,600 miles

BMW

Review

THERE is something very special about driving a BMW, particularly when it looks and feels as classy as our long-term 320d Sport.

As well as featuring the subtle yet striking M Sport bodystyling, our car looks stunning in dark metallic blue with sand-coloured leather seats and beautiful, chunky alloy wheels.

As soon as you climb aboard, the car offers a comfortable driving position and feels refined and well built – with no rattles or squeaks to complain of.

Its torquey engine is fabulous and although there's some diesel engine clatter at idle it soon quietens down at higher speed.

Our car has the Sports pack with firmer suspension and those larger M Sport alloy wheels, both of which serve to have an effect on ride quality.

This is particularly noticeable on bumpy country roads and although it's not quite 'sock in a washing machine' scenario, the ride is firm and can make you feel a little queasy at times.

It seems worse for passengers who have often requested that I slow down, and that's travelling at sober speeds. But that's the pay-off for a car that handles so well.

Company drivers wanting the prestige of a BMW-badged car but requiring optimum comfort should instead opt for the 320d in either SE or standard specification, which come with taller tyres and softer suspension springs.

But that means losing the striking looks of our Sport model, as well as the driving experience that is livened up with the Sports pack.

So, if you can put up with a harder ride on those country road occasions, then the Sports pack is a desirable option.

Elsewhere, the 320d has a springy clutch pedal that caught me out the first time I attempted to drive out of Fleet Towers' car park.

Fuel economy is improving all the time and my stint with the car has seen it achieve 42.9mpg, still a way from the claimed 49.6mpg but much better than the 34.8mpg recorded when the car first arrived with us. I can't take full credit for that, though, as fuel consumption does get better once engine loosens up.

Company car tax bill 2003/04 (40% tax-payer): £151 per month

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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