I’ve been driving our 320d for about a month now, and I’ve yet to see another one on the road. So for the moment, at least in my locality, I’m in a super-exclusive group of one.
Other than previous generation 3-series drivers casting an envious eye my way, our car isn’t attracting too much attention.
And I was thankful of that the other day in a car park when I spent an embarrassing five minutes bent double down in the driver’s footwell with my backside poking up in the air looking for the ignition key I’d dropped.
The new 3-series has a very sexy, slender key which hardly takes up any room in your pocket. But it comes attached to a big leather key fob which does, so I foolishly took the fob off.
All was going well until I missed the dashboard slot and the key went tumbling down into the darkness underneath the driver’s seat. It took a good five minutes (but felt much longer) of pushing the seat to and fro before I eventually found the elusive item. So there’s a lesson for you – don’t take the key fob off or at some point you’ll look as big a prat as I did.
Other than that, the BMW is proving to be ruthlessly efficient. It’s averaging 40.9mpg despite some very keen driving and the computer is telling me it won’t need a service until it has reached 16,000 miles. An oil top up has been the only reason I’ve had to go under the bonnet.
And there are two items, both options, which are a real benefit. The first is the £90 sports steering wheel with its fat rim which is wonderfully tactile and transmits so much information to your hands, and the £95 rain-sensing wipers and automatic headlights – both are a real boon when driving in changeable weather conditions.
Model: BMW 320d SE
Price (OTR): £24,390 (£27,185 as tested)
CO2 emissions (g/km): 153
Company car tax bill (2005/6) 40% tax-payer: £137 a month
Insurance group: 14
Combined mpg: 49.6
Test mpg: 40.9
CAP Monitor residual value: £11,300/47%
HSBC contract hire rate: £480
Expenditure to date: £5.50 (half a litre of oil)