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    CHRIS GRAHAM F30 335d xDRIVE #Shadow-Edition

    CAR: #BMW-F30 335d #xDrive
    YEAR: 2018
    TOTAL MILEAGE: 4,863
    MPG THIS MONTH: 49.4

    / #BMW-F30 / #BMW-335d-xDrive-F30 / #BMW-335d-xDrive-Shadow-Edition / #2018-BMW-335d-xDrive-Shadow-Edition / #2018-BMW-335d-xDrive-Shadow-Edition-F30 / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-F30 / #BMW / #2018 / #BMW-335d-F30 / #BMW-335d / #2018-BMW-335d /

    This month I’ve mostly been revelling in the results of Mark Farrell’s excellent new car detail, carried out on my 335d a few weeks ago. The way his expert attentions enhanced the clarity and depth of the superb Sunset Orange metallic paint finish, is a wonder to behold! Sadly, there simply wasn’t room to do the results he achieved justice in the article. Ideally, I’d have used the ‘before’ and ‘after’ photographs much larger in last month’s Valeting bay feature, but there was just so much technical information to be included that we ran out of page space.

    Mark recommends washing the car every two weeks once it’s been treated with a ceramic coating, to maximise the life of that finish. So, it was with some trepidation that I tackled this recently. It was the first time that I’d had any direct, physical contact with the bodywork, having confined my cleaning activities to snow foam and jet wash up until then.

    I was careful to give the whole car a thorough rinse with the jet wash before starting, then apply a thick layer of snow foam before using a soft cotton wash pad to agitate and lift away any dirt. I also had two buckets (one with a grit guard) for rinsing and re-wetting the wash pad as I worked. Finally, the vehicle was jet-washed again before being patted dry using a large, soft microfibre towel.

    I’ve also been doing a little research into AdBlue, which is something that had more or less passed me by until getting this car. To be honest, I didn’t even realise the #BMW-335d-F30 was fitted with the system until I opened the fuel filler flap for the first time. AdBlue, which is a diesel exhaust fluid – not a fuel additive – is injected into the engine’s exhaust stream in small quantities, and triggers a chemical reaction that converts harmful nitrogen oxide into nitrogen and water.

    The fluid, which is a nontoxic solution made from very pure, synthesised urea (not pigs’ urine, as is popularly believed!) and de-ionised water, is gradually consumed as the engine runs. The level of the remaining fluid can be checked via iDrive, which will display the car’s range given what’s left in the tank, plus the amount of AdBlue needed to top-up the tank. In my case, the range is still showing >4,500 miles, and that there’s a 0.0-litre top-up requirement. The level is something worth keeping an eye on, though, as allowing it to run out will bump the engine into a limited power mode, and prevent it from being re-started when it’s next switched off. There are, of course, obvious dashboard warnings issued as AdBlue levels start to fall too low for comfort so, in practice, there’s no excuse for actually running out of the stuff.

    According to the owner’s handbook, when the #AdBlue reserve indicator on the dashboard first shows, the tank should be replenished with at least five litres (1.3 gallons), which is likely to cost about £5. The handbook also points out that it’s important to use Adblue that meets the ISO 22241-1 standard.

    Right: Sad though it may be, I’m still getting a great deal of pleasure from the depth and richness of the Sunset Orange metallic paint on my car.

    AdBlue diesel exhaust fluid is now part of my life, for the first time.
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    / #BMW-330d-M-Sport-Saloon / (F30) ( 2012 – 2015 ) / #BMW-330d-M-Sport-Saloon-F30 / #BMW-330d-F30 / #BMW-F30 / #BMW / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-F30 /

    Fleet buyers can’t get enough of the ubiquitous 3 Series and the sheer volume of used examples now returned to the market means the pre-face-lifted F30 model is great value – mint examples of the feisty 330d M Sport start at just £13,000. And even fullywarrantied #BMW-Approved-Used examples can be bought from just £15,000. With 245hp and a whopping 413lb ft of torque, performance is rapid to say the least – yet combined economy is a miserly 45.6mpg. And with so many well-maintained examples to choose from you’re sure to find one in your favourite colour and spec.
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    Added Excitement

    Straight out-of-the-box the F30 340i is a pretty sublime machine but does the addition of an M Performance power kit and exhaust turn a great car into an outstanding one? Words: Bob Harper Photography: Matt Richardson.

    Aurally brilliant M Performance 340i #Saloon / #2016

    It’s not very often that I step out of a new BMW and feel underwhelmed but exactly that happened this week. And it wasn’t a pared down to the bone entry-level special either, this was a fully kitted out top of the range 440i Coupé. Like most anomalies this should not be taken out of context.

    I was attending a #BMW-UK multi-model launch where there were several different machines assembled for the motoring press to sample and the first car I grabbed the keys to was the new M240i Convertible. You can read my full thoughts on this machine next month, but I don’t think it’s too much of a spoiler to say I thought it was sublime. Small enough to thread through the Wiltshire lanes, quick as mustard and, with the hood down, plenty of aural action as the exhaust popped and crackled away to itself. The 440i was equally rapid and it was wonderfully refined and while being a little larger it didn’t shrink around you quite as well as the 2 Series, it was its lack of exhaust note that I noticed more than anything else.

    Now this is something that I’m sure BMW has done plenty of market research on and it may well be that the majority of its customers who order a 440i don’t want a rorty exhaust note for the majority of the time, but what if you wanted a better soundtrack every now and then? After all it’s part and parcel of a performance car and there’s no doubting the 440i has the performance – I’d just like it if it would shout about it a little bit more.

    Which is where this 340i you can see here comes in. I picked it up from BMW’s HQ a couple of days after my 440i encounter and with that latter car’s talents (not) still ringing in my ears I knew within a few hundred yards that this 340i was going to address my concerns in spades. It didn’t give much away on a cold start up, but wanting the full beans and sharp throttle response right from the get-go I’d popped the Drive Performance Control switch into Sport and was delighted to hear a much meatier rumble from the exhaust than I’d been expecting. A quick blat up the back roads to reach the motorway had me grinning like a Cheshire cat and whizzing up and down the gearbox with the steering wheelmounted paddles for the sheer hell of it. The bottom line was that it sounded awesome.

    Bombing up the slip road and onto the motorway cruising speed was reached in a matter of seconds and once sitting at a steady 75-80mph the exhaust was relatively subdued, just making its presence felt every time you went onto the throttle to pick up speed. No longer having the need for the Sport mode I dropped the car back into its Comfort setting and lo and behold the 340i returned to being a whisper quiet cruiser. By the time I’d reached the office I was coming round to thinking this really was my ideal car. Quiet and refined when needed but with a boisterous side to its nature when wanted. And I should just mention that after 50 miles on the motorway the OBC was registering 42mpg – impressive stuff for a 300+hp petrol sport saloon. So how is this alchemy possible? While it may look to all intents and purposes like a bog standard 340i this machine has been treated to BMW’s M Performance ‘Power and Sound Kit’ that’s available for the 340i (Saloon and Touring) as well as the 440i in Coupé, Convertible and Gran Coupé guises. Power is up from the standard car’s 326hp to 360hp while torque swells to 369lb ft – a gain of 37lb ft (although for manual models the torque peak is lower at 354lb ft to protect the gearbox from damage). The power part of the kit involves a software upgrade, while as I’ve already discovered the sound part of the equation is a silencer system that comes with either chrome or carbon tailpipe finishers. The uplift in outputs is enough for #BMW to quote a performance gain of 0.2 seconds for the 0-62mph sprint, dipping the 340i Saloon’s time to 4.9 seconds when equipped with the excellent eight-speed auto ‘box.

    BMW reckons that even in Comfort and Eco-Pro modes you’ll experience a ‘sporty sound, significantly sportier and more emotional than the standard system’, but I must admit that for the most part when in Comfort mode the car was as quiet as other 340i’s I’ve experienced. Flicking the switch to access Sport though brings an absolute sea change which BMW describes as a ‘maximum emotional sound, very sporty, very loud’, and this time it’s really hit the nail on the head. At lower revs you’ll experience a deeper, bassier note which increases in volume and timbre as you fire up the rev range, and it has to be said that this new B58 ‘six as found under the 340i’s bonnet loves to rev.

    Whipping up and down the road for photography was an absolute delight – sometimes driving back and forth for the camera becomes a real chore, but on this occasion I was rather disappointed when my snapper signalled that he’d got enough shots in the bag. Not only do you get significantly more noise when accelerating but backing off the throttle elicits some wonderful pops and crackles that send tingles up your spine. To me, this is what the car should be like from the factory, as in standard form there just isn’t enough noise to get excited about.

    Quality modifications aren’t cheap but at £2650 the M Performance Sound and Power kit isn’t too bad for the delight it brings. That price includes VAT, but not fitting, or the tailpipe trims which will set you back another £103 (each for the chrome) or £207 (each for the carbon version), but for around the £3k mark you’ll be seriously enhancing your car. Personally I’d certainly add this to my list of must-have options if I were buying – it really is that good, and brings out the sport in this most excellent of sporting saloons.

    A quick blat up the back roads to reach the motorway had me grinning like a Cheshire cat

    TECHNICAL DATA: #BMW-M-Performance / #BMW-340i / #BMW-340i-M-Performance / #BMW-340i-M-Performance-F30 / #BMW-340i-F30 / #BMW-F30 / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-F30 / #BMW-F30/2

    ENGINE: Straight-six, 24-valve
    CAPACITY: 2998cc
    MAX POWER: 360hp @ 5500rpm
    MAX TORQUE: 369lb ft @ 1520-4800rpm
    0-62MPH: 4.9 seconds
    TOP SPEED: 155mph
    ECONOMY: 43.5mpg
    EMISSIONS: 159g/km
    PRICE (OTR): See text
    Figures quoted are for eight-speed automatic as tested.
    Please contact your preferred BMW centre for more details
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    Test location: Shingay cum Wendy, Cambridgeshire. Photography: Aston Parrott #Mercedes-AMG-C43-Estate-S205 vs. #BMW-340i-Touring-F31 . Which of these performance compact estate rivals delivers the fullest package? / #BMW-340i-Touring / #BMW-340i-F31 / #BMW-F31 / #BMW / #BMW-340i / #Mercedes-AMG-C43-S205 / #Mercedes-AMG-S205 / #Mercedes-Benz-S205 / #Mercedes-Benz / #Mercedes / #Mercedes-AMG / #Mercedes-Benz-C-Class / #Mercedes-Benz-C-Class-205 / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-F31 / #Mercedes-Benz-C-Klasse / #Mercedes-Benz-C-Klasse-205

    It’s going to take a while for us to get used to this new breed of AMG-lite. We’ve come to expect that cars from Affalterbach will be slightly unhinged, wild, tyre-smoking hooligans. The new C43, however, feels like it’s been created by a different branch of AMG, one run by engineers who value speed and grip over enjoyment, engineers who haven’t had one too many steins of Weissbier. Engineers who created the A45 AMG. But perhaps we shouldn’t get too hung up on that, because by forgoing an exotic V8 engine in favour of a 367hp twin-turbo 3-litre #V6 , the C43 brings an AMG C-class within reach of a wider audience…

    The 340i replaces the 335i in the 3-series F30 line-up, and uncharacteristically for a BMW, it isn’t adorned with a plethora of ‘M’ badges. It isn’t even part of BMW’s semi-hot ‘M Performance’ range. It’s just a normal car, albeit quite a powerful one.

    The 340i’s new 3-litre, twin-scroll single-turbo engine produces 325hp and 450nm of torque, which make it good for a 0-100km/h time of 5.1sec. not bad for a non-M model.

    Its supple, cosseting ride quality certainly doesn’t make it feel much like a performance car, and when trundling down the road with the driving mode set to Comfort, the 340i is a very pleasant place to be. on the move the chassis feels noticeably sharper when you select either of the Sport or Sport+ driving modes.

    Thanks to a more aggressive throttle map, the engine feels more urgent too. Some of the ride quality diminishes, but the 340i now reacts more eagerly to steering inputs thanks to less body roll. The engine also makes more noise, but while the exhaust emits a deep but subtle growl for those outside, the soundtrack inside the cabin is mostly breathy. Stretch the engine to its lofty – by today’s standards – 7000rpm rev limit and it begins to emit a more satisfying timbre, although it’s still far from spine-tingling.

    The eight-speed automatic gearbox slots each gear into place almost instantly, but despite the speedy changes the drivetrain never feels that urgent, even when cranked up to its highest setting; stand on the throttle and you have to wait momentarily for momentum to build before there’s a reaction. Once the power has found its way to the rear wheels, though, you can really feel them helping the back of the car around a corner. These transparent and innately rear-drive characteristics are so delightful to exploit that the BMW encourages you to push harder and drive faster.

    Sadly the chassis begins to show its humble, estate-car roots the quicker you go. The front-end doesn’t possess the sort of grip we’ve come to expect of a modern performance car, and unless you’re very careful and measured with your steering inputs the 340i readily stumbles into understeer. Proportionally, there’s more rear-end grip than front, but that means the influence the throttle has on the back axle rarely escalates into anything very exciting. Try really hard to induce a slide and the rear feels very heavy, leaning considerably over the outside wheel. Then once grip has been lost, the body roll and lack of a limited-slip diff mean the resulting slide is scruffy, making you feel ham-fisted.

    The BMW runs on a Bridgestone Potenza S001, a tyre we’ve been impressed with on other cars. However, whether it’s the weight of the 340i or the alterations BMW has made to the tyre (the star on the sidewalls denotes it has been specifically adapted for BMW), these Potenzas feel less like an ultra high performance tyre and more like a summer touring one.

    this new AMG C43 shares its spangly grille with lesser C-classes, so it looks pretty sober. only the four exhausts give the game away that this is no ordinary estate. Inside there’s hardly an abundance of AMG cues, either, but the car’s intentions are clear from the moment you drive off. The chassis is much firmer than that of the BMW, even in its more comfortable modes, and the steering, although light, is very quick.

    On paper the Mercedes has the BMW covered, with that 367hp supported by 520nm of torque, resulting in a 0-100km/h time of 4.7sec. this is reflected by an eagerness to the C43’s drivetrain that the 340i could only wish for – the rev-counter needle dashes around the dial as if on a vacuum – although the twin-turbo V6 doesn’t rev as high as the BMW’s straight-six. The nine-speed auto gearbox is quick, with sharp, crisp changes that better those of a lot of double-clutch systems. Sadly, to avoid confusing the drivetrain and causing a long pause before the power comes back in, you need to change up by around 6200rpm.

    The C43’s chassis doesn’t change dramatically between each of its drive modes. However, the dampers can be softened off separately should you want the slightly more pliant ride with the more immediate throttle map. Keep the engine, gearbox and suspension in their sportiest settings and there’s almost no slack in any of the controls. The C43 changes direction instantly, the chassis more than capable of keeping up with the quick steering.

    But as taut and responsive as the Mercedes is, it’s the sheer speed of the car that’s most remarkable. The 4Matic four-wheel-drive system contributes to an incredible amount of grip that means B-roads can be dispatched with disconcerting ease.

    You can throw anything at the C43 and it remains unruffled, but this incredible competence comes at the expense of any real interaction. The throttle doesn’t change the attitude of the car: a lift is as ineffectual as standing on the accelerator midcorner, the C43 staying glued to its original trajectory. Only a lot of speed and some tactical left-foot braking will eventually induce some reluctant movement from the rear axle. The AMG’s incredible capability goads you to drive faster and faster in an attempt to instigate some sort of reaction, but it’s near impossible to maintain the speeds needed for the C43 to come alive on the road.

    Having such performance available in small estate cars is, in itself, fantastic, and both the BMW and AMG are talented in their own ways. The #BMW doesn’t purport to be a performance car and it doesn’t quite have the power and pace to match the overtly sporty #AMG , but it certainly holds its own in this test, being involving and rewarding to drive if kept within its limits. By contrast the C43 can be aloof. With unrelenting grip and composure it never shows a playful side, making it difficult to fall for. Its sheer competence means it wins this test, but it wins few friends in the process.

    ‘An incredible amount of grip means the C43 can dispatch B-roads with disconcerting ease’

    TECHNICAL DATA SPECIFICATION #Mercedes-AMG C43 #4Matic Estate / #Mercedes-AMG-C43-4Matic-Estate / #Mercedes-AMG-C43-4Matic-Estate-S205 / #Mercedes-AMG-C43-4Matic-Estate / #Mercedes-AMG-C43-T-Modell / #Mercedes-AMG-T-Modell / #Mercedes-AMG-C43-T-Modell-S205 / #Mercedes-AMG-C43-4Matic-T-Modell-S205

    Engine V6, 2996cc, twin-turbo / CO2 181g/km
    Power 367hp @ 5500-6000rpm DIN
    Torque 520nm @ 2000-4200rpm DIN
    Transmission 9-speed auto
    0-100 km/h 4.7sec (claimed)
    Top speed 250km/h (limited)
    Weight 1660kg (225hp/ton)
    Basic price tba contact Cycle & Carriage 6298 1818

    + incredibly fast and composed
    - difficult to engage with
    Rating 4+

    Engine in-line 6-cyl, 2998cc, turbocharged CO2 158g/km
    Power 325hp @ 5500-6500rpm DIN
    Torque 450nm @ 1380-5000rpm DIN
    Transmission 8-speed auto ( #ZF8HP / #ZF )
    0-100 km/h 5.1sec (claimed)
    Top speed 250km/h (limited)
    Weight 1615kg (205hp/ton)
    Basic price Special indent only
    Contact Performance Motors, 6319 0100

    + Feel some rear-drive chassis
    - Easy to drive it beyond its BMW 340i Touring #BMW-F30 comfort zone
    Rating 4++
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    Behind the Wheel We get to grips with the F30 330i and this one’s had the full AC Schnitzer treatment. BMW’s 330i is no longer powered by a six-cylinder engine but can a selection of AC Schnitzer goodies put the pizzazz back in the sports saloon? Words: Bob Harper. Photography: Dave Smith.

    It seems hardly possible that it’s getting on for a year since we first drove the face-lifted 3 Series back in the November 2015 issue and it’s perhaps even more of a surprise that we’ve yet to sample the car in its new 330i form. The 328i was dropped in favour of the 330i with the four-cylinder turbocharged engine, changing from the 328i’s N20 to the 330i’s new modular #B48 unit. This saw power rise from 245hp to 252hp in the 330i – not bad for a 2.0-litre four-cylinder that also develops nigh-on 260lb ft of torque too. Sadly the soulful straight-six soundtrack is no longer part of the 330i’s make-up and it is worth mentioning that the car’s still 20hp down on what the last of the E90 330i’s developed.

    Economy and emissions have both improved with the F30 330i when compared to the six-cylinder in the E90 330i – with the newer car promising to go eight miles further on each gallon of unleaded while promising to emit 22g/km CO² less while it’s doing it. Performance figures are virtually identical so I guess you’ll just have to make up your own minds whether the improved economy and emissions makes up for the loss of the straight-six.

    We probably shouldn’t get too hung up on this though – BMW’s not likely to suddenly go back to naturally aspirated sixes anytime soon so we should make the best of what we’ve got. Our first chance to drive a 330i actually came on one of our recent visits to AC Schnitzer in Aachen and the M Sport 330i Saloon kitted out with a selection of the tuning firm’s accessories certainly looks the part. It’s always interesting to sample machinery destined for markets other than the UK as one does get to appreciate quite how highly spec’d our cars are over here. Thus while this looks to all intents and purposes like a UK-spec M Sport, one discovers as soon as one opens the door that the interior’s actually refreshingly different. In the UK a 330i M Sport would come equipped with leather as standard and once we’ve spent the day driving this machine we would much rather have this cloth and Alcantara setup offered in the UK. For some reason leather is equated with luxury or prestige in the UK, but let’s face it, it tends to be cold in the winter, too hot in the summer and a bit slippery when pressing on – the cloth/Alcantara setup is far superior.

    Still, it’s not really the BMW options we’ve come to study, rather the Schnitzer upgrades and if we start with the external modifications we have a set of rather nice carbon front spoiler elements and mirror caps finished in the same material, while at the rear there’s a small spoiler at the top of the rear screen and a rather shapely item adorning the top of the bootlid.

    The wheels set the car off nicely and on this car we have a set of 8.5x-20-inch AC1 on the driver’s side and a set of Type VIIIs in similar dimensions on the passenger side… although now I’ve looked at the pictures it appears we only shot the driver’s side of this car, so apologies for that! Those wheels are wrapped in Michelin Pilot Super Sports measuring 225/35 up front and 255/30 at the rear and they really do fill the arches rather well. I’m a little concerned that this might be an inch or two too big for the 3 Series to ride acceptably but we’ll come on to that in a minute…

    Elsewhere on the car its performance intent can be gleaned from the exhausts which are considerably beefier than the standard machine and on this ACS3 Schnitzer has opted for a twin-exit setup which always looks more performance-orientated than when you have a pair of pipes exiting through the rear valance at the same side. We’re also hoping that the Schnitzer exhaust will release a more strident note than the ones we’ve encountered so far on BMW’s latest fourcylinder petrol turbos, as their soundtrack does tend to let them down in standard form. Pop the bonnet and you’re treated to one of Schnitzer’s trademark ‘Engine Optics’ packages which basically involves painting the plastic engine cover to inject some pizzazz into what are very dull swathes of black plastic in modern BMWs. Last, but by no means least, this machine is packing a development engine performance upgrade for the B48 2.0-litre that promises around 300hp and 310lb ft of torque – gains of 48 and 52 respectively, although those numbers are, as yet, not set in stone.

    Out on the road, though, the ACS3 3.0i does prove to be an eager performer, exhibiting the sort of pace you’d expect from a 300hp saloon, offering up a big dose of torque lower down the rev range but like some of BMW’s smaller turbocharged petrol units there’s not a huge amount to be gained from really extending it as its best work is already done by the time you reach 6000rpm. As a performance upgrade it’s pretty effective, taking the 330i almost up to 340i levels of power and torque for less than the price difference between the two cars, assuming the Schnitzer upgrade comes in at a similar price point to its offerings for other models. You obviously don’t get the straight-six soundtrack, or some of the 340i’s additional equipment, but it is still worth bearing in mind.

    We were worried that those 20-inch alloys might be an inch or so too large for the car but we shouldn’t have worried – Schnitzer generally knows its onions when it comes to suspension setups and this car features the company’s ‘Sports’ suspension system which features new springs and dampers. Schnitzer reckons it goes a long way to eliminating the ‘vertical chop’ associated with BMW damping on fast bumpy corners yet also offers a compliant ride and having spent some time behind the wheel of its 330i we have to agree. While the majority of roads we encounter are better than those in the UK the section of road we end up using for the panning photography is worse than most of our B-roads and is little better than a dirt track with a crumbling surface and the 330i simply soaks it all up. Big potholes will still upset it, but on the whole I’d say it rides as well as, if not better than, a standard 3 Series on 18s with the M Sport suspension. It feels nicely planted when cornering too, with enough feedback to make it entertaining which is all you could wish for from a sports saloon.

    It might lack the sonorous straight-six of pervious generations but we reckon the 330i is still a pretty decent piece of kit, especially with a few choice Schnitzer upgrades. The exhaust does go someway to eliciting a better soundtrack from the four-cylinder, although it’s never going to sound as sweet as a sixpot, but the performance on offer does go someway towards making up for the lack of aural excitement. It doesn’t sound bad, just never all that inspiring.

    Overall, though, another job well done by the chaps at AC Schnitzer. The car has enough exterior changes to help it stand out from the crowd and the wheels and suspension combine very well to make it an entertaining companion.

    AC Schnitzer UK
    Tel: 01485 542000
    AC Schnitzer Germany
    Tel: +49 (0)241 56 88 130

    TECHNICAL DATA #2016 / #AC-Schnitzer-ACS3-3.0i / #AC-Schnitzer-ACS3 / #AC-Schnitzer-ACS3-3.0i-F30 / #AC-Schnitzer-ACS3-F30 / #AC-Schnitzer-F30 / #BMW-F30 / #BMW-F30-AC-Schnitzer / #BMW-330i / #BMW-330i-F30 / #BMW-330i-AC-Schnitzer / #BMW-330i-AC-Schnitzer-F30 / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-F30 / #BMW /

    ENGINE: Four-cylinder, 16-valve, turbocharged
    CAPACITY: 1998cc
    MAX POWER: 300hp*
    MAX TORQUE: 310lb ft*

    ENGINE: AC Schnitzer Performance Upgrade – £TBC; AC Schnitzer engine optics – £359.88
    EXHAUST: AC Schnitzer silencer with ‘Racing Evo’ tailpipes left and right – £1588.44
    SUSPENSION: AC Schnitzer Sports suspension – £1233.48
    WHEELS AND TYRES: AC Schnitzer AC1, 8.5x20-inch with 225/35 (front) and 255/30 (rear) tyres – £3255.83
    AERODYNAMICS: AC Schnitzer front spoiler elements (carbon) – £888.50; AC Schnitzer mirror covers (carbon) – £430.79; AC Schnitzer rear roof spoiler – £242.73; AC Schnitzer spoiler – £326.42
    INTERIOR: AC Schnitzer aluminium pedal set – £155.67; AC Schnitzer aluminium foot rest – £149.82; AC Schnitzer key holder – £79.88; AC Schnitzer floor mats – £181.03

    * In development, price and final figures TBC. All prices are for parts only but include VAT. For further information please contact AC Schnitzer UK.
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    Behind the Wheel.
    The 330e promises a game-changing drivetrain but does it live up to its potential?


    We’re used to the model designation of a 3 Series having nothing to do with the engine size, but what exactly is a 330e? It’s worth a closer look, that’s for sure… Words: Shane O’ Donoghue Pics: Max Earey.

    Remember the good old days, when a 330 was powered by a 3.0-litre straight-six petrol engine and a tweet was a noise a bird made? Well, they’re seemingly gone forever. The 330d may still use a 3.0-litre six-cylinder engine but the 330i uses a turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder unit and now there’s the 330e. That little ‘e’ stands for electrification, but fear not: this isn’t the world’s first all-electric 3 Series. It is, in fact, a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV), but we agree with whoever took the decision not to stick a ‘330phev’ badge on the boot…

    In fact, the boot badge is one of the only ways you’ll distinguish the hybrid from its 3 Series siblings. That and the vaguely ugly extra ‘fuel flap’ found on the left-front wing behind the wheel (it’s less obvious if you go for a darker paint colour). The 330e has exhaust pipes after all, and it can even be had in SE, Sport, Luxury and M Sport specifications to completely fool the neighbours. In short, this is not a hybrid for those that want to tell the world they’re driving a hybrid. That, we approve of.

    And indeed, if your idea of hybrid power is entrenched in the driving experience of older generations of the Toyota Prius, you’ll be in for a bit of a surprise in the 330e. This is, remember, the company that brought us the sublime BMW i8 sports car, which is itself a plug-in hybrid. Under the bonnet of the 330e, regardless of trim level, is a turbocharged 2.0-litre petrol engine. To the back of that is bolted a slick eight-speed automatic transmission with normal and Sport modes of operation (plus paddle-shifts as standard across the line-up). Within the casing of that gearbox is a compact electric motor-generator that adds 88hp to the engine’s output and produces 184lb ft of torque from a standstill. This takes its juice from a large lithium ion battery pack located at the rear of the car (robbing the boot of 110 litres, one of the few down sides), which can be charged in three hours by plugging it into the mains (or if you use a high-speed electric car charger, in just over two hours). The engine itself can top it up as well, depending on the driving mode selected, though obviously that uses fuel so it’s not the most efficient way to do things. Now the important numbers: the 330e has up to 252hp when the petrol engine and electric motor work together, plus 310lb ft of torque; the emissions rating is as low as 44g/km (depending on specification, but it’s never higher than 49g/km) for no annual motor tax bill; the official fuel economy figure is as high as 148.7mpg; and it will do 0-62mph in a hot hatch-baiting 6.1 seconds.

    It’s worth rereading those and then taking your time to compare the numbers produced by the top-selling 320d EfficientDynamics Sport fitted with the Sport automatic transmission: 163hp, 295lb ft of torque, 99 to 109g/km, 68.9 to 74.3mpg and 0-62mph in 8.0 seconds. That car costs £32,860 on-the-road, in comparison to £34,235 for the 330e Sport, which is a significant difference, even if the hybrid is much faster and, theoretically at least, more efficient. However, the 330e has an ace up its sleeve for company buyers and that’s a very low Benefit in Kind (BIK) rating of seven per cent. The 320d ED is better in that regard than any other diesel 3 Series, but at 20 per cent it makes the purchase price difference all but irrelevant.

    If you’ve read anything on hybrids, you’ll realise that one of those figures needs qualifying, and that’s the fuel economy. All the car makers have to put their vehicles through a standardised test procedure and quote the results from that, but it’s no longer fit for purpose so should be taken with a pinch of salt.

    Comparing the 320d to the 330e emphasises the test’s uselessness to the public. Taken at face value, you’d expect the petrol-electric hybrid 330e to use less than half the fuel of the conventionally diesel 320d and, if you drove in a manner that replicated the so-called ‘combined cycle’ test then it would indeed be that way. However, the battery in the 330e would have to be charged up from an external source beforehand while the overall test length would have to be short, on a flat road, with no wind or use of the air conditioning. We’ve driven considerably further in both the 330e and the 320d and once out on the open road at a cruise, the 320d returns economy much closer to its official figure than the 330e can hope to. Indeed, on a long motorway journey, a diesel 3 Series will always be more economical.

    The 330e fights back by being far quieter, it has decent electric-only running capability and actually works really well around town. If most of your driving isn’t on a free-flowing motorway and you can regularly charge-up the battery pack then the 330e may cost no more to run. We’d suggest you do the sums, as it’s a considerably more satisfying car to drive. Along with the more refined powertrain, it’s much faster at all times, effortlessly so. And if you’re in the mood for a B-road blast, slot it into Sport mode and all the systems respond with pleasing sharpness, helping it live up to that 330e badge on the boot, regardless of what that actually stands for these days.

    Bar the badging, the additional ‘fuel flap’, and some of the dash displays, the 330e looks like every other 3 Series.

    TECHNICAL DATA #2016 / #BMW-F30 / #BMW-330e-Sport / #BMW-330e-Sport-F30 / #BMW-330e-F30 / #BMW / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-F30 / #BMW-330e

    DRIVETRAIN: 1998cc turbocharged in-line-four-cylinder petrol with synchronous electric motor, eight-speed #Steptronic auto, rear-wheel drive
    MAX POWER: Petrol: 184hp @ 5000-6500rpm; Electric: 88hp @ 2500rpm; Combined: 252hp
    MAX TORQUE: Petrol: 214lb ft @ 1350-4250rpm; Electric: 184lb ft @ 0-2500rpm; Combined: 310lb ft
    0-62MPH: 6.1 seconds
    TOP SPEED: 140mph
    ECONOMY: 134.5-148.7mpg
    EMISSIONS: 44-49g/km
    WEIGHT (EU): 1735kg
    PRICE 2016 UK: From £31,735 (including £2500 Government plug-in car grant)
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    Electric Dreams? Sampling BMW’s all-new hybrid #BMW-3-Series , the 330e, and it’s a lot better than we were expecting. BMW’s electrifying expansion of its mainstream range continues and this is the most crucial model yet: the 330e. But do we feel a spark when driving it? Time to find out… Words: Matt Robinson. Photography: / #BMW / #BMW-F30 / #BMW-330e-F30 / #BMW-330e / #2016 / #BMW-F30/2 /

    I remember my first encounter with a BMW 330d. It was a post-face-lift E46 Saloon, a dark grey SE that I had to pick up from BMW UK’s former headquarters in Bracknell and drive back to Gloucester on a typically grimy British winter evening. At the time, I was young and hot-headed, a staunch diesel naysayer. And I certainly wasn’t alone in my opinion; despite the fledgling years of common-rail injection bringing significant and rapid improvements to old Rudolf’s compression engine, to many the 330d was an inferior alternative to a 330i – BMW’s classic, compact, straight-six petrol heartland.

    You probably know what’s coming next. I’d barely got to Swindon and the turning for the A419 (which cuts off the M4/M5 interchange by running along the fringes of the Cotswolds) before I realised that petrol’s game was up. So phenomenal was the 204hp turbodiesel that it wholly converted me to a ‘dervangelist’ in the space of about 70 miles. The four-door Three demolished the distance with disdain as it scythed through the cold, dark night at well in excess of 40mpg. It really did appear to be all things to all men.

    Of course, BMW has been doing diesel for a lot longer than that 330d of 2004, with a lineage stretching right back to the E28 524td of 1982. But it was that M57 D30 six-pot engine, seen first in the E39 530d in 1998 and then expanding into the 3 Series and other model lines, that started the seachange within the marque that saw diesels become by far the preferred choice for the majority of BMW buyers; well, in this country and Europe, at least. Presumably, BMW is hoping for a similar moment of enlightenment for its customers with this new 330e. Like the difficulty Munich encountered in getting the public to accept a ‘d’-suffix at the end of the model number instead of an ‘i’, now ‘e’ is the latest fashion and it’s the letter that supposedly makes the most eco-sense in the wake of Volkswagen’s ‘Dieselgate’ shame. Ironic, really, that diesel’s future looks under threat from petrol once more, albeit petrol with the assistance of electricity.

    That’s right, the 330e is a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle, or PHEV. This is BMW’s i-brand know-how continuing to encroach into the marque’s core model offerings, the outlandish i3 and i8’s presence in showrooms bolstered by the likes of the X5 xDrive40e, the forthcoming BMW 740e and the 225xe Active Tourer we’ll be bringing you a review of next month. The 330e actually shares a lot of hardware with the X5 PHEV, as it has the same longitudinally-mounted 2.0-litre four-cylinder TwinPower Turbo petrol engine up front with the electric motor sandwiched into the glorious eightspeed automatic transmission, but it doesn’t get 340e badging, as its drivetrain is less powerful than the X5’s (252hp and 310lb ft, compared to 313hp and 332lb ft) and it’s also rear-wheel drive, where the SUV has traction at all corners.

    Lighter than the X5 by more than 600kg, though, the 330e is in another league in terms of its performance, be that against the clock or with regards to its energy usage. BMW quotes a rapid 6.1-second 0-62mph time and a 140mph top speed for the 330e, but it’s the official economy and CO² emissions that cause jaws to hit the floor. The 3 Series PHEV doesn’t just eclipse the X5 40e, it also embarrasses its 330i and 330d siblings; obliterating them with 148.7mpg and just 44g/km CO². Even upgrading to larger alloys only causes slight deteriorations, to 134.5mpg and 49g/km, so any way you cut it, these are truly exceptional, road tax-free returns.

    Naturally, the cynics out there will be gearing up to take the 330e’s case apart immediately, citing the fact no #PHEV can ever get near its stratospheric on-paper boasts. And, if our test drive figures are anything to go by, they’ve got plenty of ammunition. On a flat, urban/extra-urban route in and around Munich, where the temperature was seven degrees centigrade, we covered 79 miles at an average of 34.4mph and got back 62.8mpg, with 7.0kWh/62.5 miles of battery use at the same time. That’s 42 per cent of what the 330e is supposedly capable of.

    However, let’s reassess. BMW legally has to quote the NEDC figures and everyone associated with the automotive industry now knows that these bear little resemblance to reality, with the data for PHEVs particularly skewed. Furthermore, BMW maintains many of its customers worldwide only commute 19 miles a day. So, with plenty of access to charging points at home and places of work, such owners could use the 330e’s fully electric range of 25 miles day in, day out, and never touch the fossil fuel in the tank. Also, on the same route, despite it now being a four-cylinder motor, the 330i would probably have failed to surpass 30mpg and even a 330d wouldn’t have got close to the 330e’s returns. Thus, we’re inclined to label the hybrid Three as an economical success story.

    So, if we accept the electrification has, like the E46 330d did back in 2004, given all drivers the best of both worlds – economy and power – then we have to satisfy two further questions: how does the 330e drive, and has the integration of the electric motor and battery affected the car’s practicality?

    On the latter score, there’s a reduction in boot space of 110 litres to 370 litres in total – a result of the lithium-ion battery being mounted under the cargo area’s floor. However, it remains a large, wellshaped space and there’s a neat little pocket to the left-hand side in which owners can store the baggedup charging cable when it’s not in use.

    BMW has also decided not to equip the 330e with any distinctive signifiers, like flatfaced aero alloys or blue exterior trim, for example, which will easily mark it out. Only the boot badge, ‘eDrive’ logos on the C-pillars and the electric charging port on the nearside front wing differentiates it from a 330d. To all intents and purposes, from the outside the clever hybrid is just another 3 Series, which will be of appeal to potential customers.

    Inside, a few extra hybrid-related screens are available in the instrument cluster and iDrive display, there’s a read-out for the battery’s charge level, while blue stitching and mesh-effect cloth trim are specific to the 330e. There’s also the eDrive button, which – like the X5 and i8 – cycles between Auto eDrive, Max eDrive and Save. The first of these lets the car choose between electric, hybrid and petrol power as required, Max eDrive locks the Three into full electric mode (if the battery’s up to it) and Save favours the 2.0-litre four and brake recuperation to hold or replenish the battery’s charge.

    No matter which of these modes it’s in, the 330e drives in a supremely confident and composed manner, although its 1665kg bulk does rob it of the final degree of dynamic sharpness. However, the ride is fabulous, noise suppression is superb at all times and when it’s running in zero-emissions EV mode, it is so much quieter than either a 330i or 330d could ever hope to be. The steering is fantastic and the 330e’s body control is also top drawer, although the brakes have a slightly two-stage feel to them thanks to their energy-harvesting duties, while the 2.0-litre engine – always smooth and free-revving – isn’t one of BMW’s most charismatic units. The better news is that, whether it’s using only one of its motors or both in unison, the 330e feels extremely rapid; it’s simply that it prefers being driven just within itself, rather than being thrashed right up to the ragged edge. If that really bothers you, you’ll need a 335d, 340i or an M3 instead.

    Personally speaking, I’ve not been won over in such an alarmingly easy fashion by the 330e of 2016 as I was by the 330d 12 years ago, although this is probably the most comprehensively rounded #BMW-PHEV yet, i8 included. It’s a fine car that will absolutely meet the needs of a large proportion of 3 Series buyers, be they private or business users. There’s one more ace up the 330e’s sleeve and that’s a starting price of £28,935, including the government’s £5000 grant, as an SE; from 1 March, that grant reduces to £2500, increasing the 330e’s entry point to £31,435. But as an auto 330i starts from £34,690 (Luxury spec) and the cheapest 330d costs £37,800, you can see just how competitively BMW has priced this PHEV.

    Whatever we think of the slightly fuzzy dynamics, the fact of the matter is that the 330e is a stunning integration of electric drive into BMW’s single most important model. Does the 3 Series PHEV bring the curtain down on diesel’s short era of dominance, then? Not quite, but it’s increasingly looking like the beginning of the end for ‘d’. The future is clearly going to belong to ‘e’.

    Interior is basically as per all other F30 Threes bar the additional read-outs on the iDrive screen and the car’s ability to do 120km/h without bothering the petrol engine!

    Whether it’s using only one of its motors or both in unison, the 330e feels extremely rapid.

    Hybrid drivetrain includes an electric motor within the gearbox casing and a battery pack under the boot floor which does make the boot 110 litres smaller.


    DRIVETRAIN: 2.0-litre turbocharged inline-four petrol with synchronous electric motor, eight-speed #Steptronic auto, rear-wheel drive
    MAX POWER: Petrol 184hp at 5000-6500rpm; electric 88hp at 2500rpm; combined peak output 252hp
    MAX TORQUE: Petrol 214lb ft at 1350-4250rpm; electric 184lb ft at 0-2500rpm; combined peak output 310lb ft, 0-62mph: 6.1 seconds
    TOP SPEED: 140mph
    EMISSIONS: 44g/km
    PRICE: From £28,935, including government’s £5000 grant (until 1 March)

    Charging point hidden behind flap on left front wing; it’ll take a full charge in three hours from a standard domestic setup, two and a half hours from a #BMW-i-Wallbox .
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    Vanilla Flavour - entry-level 3 Series diesel F30/2 , the 316d. Does the cheapest diesel 3 Series feel cheap? Not a bit of it. Words: Shane O’ Donoghue. Photography: Nick Maher. #2016

    Although #BMW chose to showcase its range-topping 340i Sport model at the international launch of the #BMW-F30-LCI (Life Cycle Impulse – ‘face-lift’ by any other name) 3 Series last summer, we reckon the subtle changes to the Three are more welcome the further down the range you traverse. Once upon a time, the entry-level diesel 3 Series was something you were lumbered with as a hire car and though the basic SE still comes with cloth upholstery as standard (nobody actually orders them with that of course), it has sat nav and plenty of other niceties, such as #DAB-digital-radio , Bluetooth, USB connectivity, auto lights and wipers, rear parking sensors, cruise control and the all-important air conditioning.

    Indeed, sitting in a press test example, which is – leather seats aside – fairly standard, I’m impressed with how far away from ‘boggo’ the 316d SE feels. I’d personally upgrade the steering wheel to a more tactile item from the options list (the centre boss looks way too bulky for my liking), but otherwise it’s a sophisticated cabin that is well-made. Though the core design of the interior is unchanged (and indeed you’ll do well to notice the extra chrome trim, more piano black and a redesigned centre console), it’s worth emphasising just how well-damped every switch is in there, as not all car makers do it so well. It’s still not quite spacious enough in the back, but on a par with its executive compact saloon rivals in the segment, and the boot is a useful 480-litre capacity.

    One thing about the interior that does stand out in this test car is the inclusion of a manual gear lever. At this thin end of the price list there’s a significant £1550 gap between manual and automatic transmissions so the latter is not always the default option. The manual gearbox was tweaked as part of the LCI update and it moves through the gate with a more satisfying ‘snick’ than it used to, banishing some of its springiness between changes. It also comes with ‘engagement speed control’, which adds a layer of sportiness. Change down under heavy deceleration and the throttle is blipped automatically to match the engine speed to the road speed, smoothening out the shift. The keenest of drivers prefer to do this themselves with a little heel and toe, but even they wouldn’t buy a 316d to practise such things. Not only is it a bit of fun when you’re pushing on, it also stabilises the rear of the car, especially when the grip levels are reduced. It seems to work particularly well when you toggle into Sport mode.

    In fairness, the 316d is the last model in the 3 Series line-up in which you’d go exploring the limits for the sake of it, but it puts in a decent performance nonetheless. The chassis is wonderfully balanced as ever, so it maintains a good pace even when you’re not really committed to driving quickly. There’s a tad more understeer built into this car’s setup to make it feel safer, but overall it’s quite neutral. It takes more than a little provocation to unstick the rear tyres, even in the wet. That’s due to the relatively low torque output of this version of the 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbodiesel engine. The tyres are more than man enough to handle 199lb ft, and when they run out of answers, you usually only find out that the limits have been broached when you spot the DSC light flashing. It’s a quick-acting system that is well-judged to assist when needed, without intruding when you don’t.

    Naturally, most buyers of the 316d will spend the majority of their time on the motorway and the good news is that this version excels in that environment. There are 17-inch alloy wheels as standard, but they are shod in tyres of fairly high profile, meaning plenty of cushioning – even before the suspension has to do any work. This results in the most comfortable 3 Series yet, though that is underpinned by great body control, so the car feels stable under braking and never floats over bumps. It’s a great compromise.

    Given how few differences there are between the 316d’s and 320d’s engines, we were surprised to note that the lesser model’s seemed much quieter than the most recent 320d’s we tried. The engine whispers along at a cruise and isn’t all that gruff around town either – once it’s warmed up anyway. It’s economical too. Our time with the car probably wasn’t very representative of the typical buyer, as we took the scenic route more often than not, but even being driven ‘enthusiastically’ we never saw less than 40mpg and on a long motorway schlep we’d expect most drivers to average over 50mpg. That’s no better than the 320d manages really, but the savings are in the purchase price.

    The efficiency star of the 3 Series line-up is the 320d EfficientDynamics Plus, but that starts at £30,670 – over three grand more than the similarly equipped 316d. Sure, with its (slightly) lower carbon dioxide emissions, the 320d ED Plus has a lower Benefit-in-Kind taxation rate of 18 per cent (the 316d is 19 per cent), but that’s irrelevant to private buyers and we don’t think that alone is enough of a reason to go for the 320d. It really depends on your driving style and preferences and, crucially, where you’ll do most of your driving. The 320d is noticeably quicker than the 316d, but not really any more economical. The 318d bridges the gap, as you’d expect. If we spent most of our driving days on the motorway network then we’d be very happy indeed with the keys to a new 316d.

    Badge aside you’d be hard pushed to spot the 316d as the entry model in the range.

    The engine whispers along at a cruise and isn’t all that gruff around town either…

    TECHNICAL DATA #BMW-F30 / #BMW-F30/2 / #BMW-316d-SE-Saloon / #BMW-316d-SE-Saloon-F30 / #BMW-316d-F30 / #BMW-316d / #BMW-3-Series /

    ENGINE: Four-cylinder, turbodiesel
    CAPACITY: 1995cc
    MAX POWER: 116hp @ 4000rpm
    MAX TORQUE: 199lb ft @1250rpm
    0-62MPH: 10.7 seconds
    TOP SPEED: 125mph
    ECONOMY: 68.9mpg
    EMISSIONS: 109g/km
    PRICE: £27,620
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    LONGTERMERS #BMW F30 320d Sport / #2016

    Another roundup of life with the BMW Car fleet…

    Lots to get through this month, so let’s crack on. First up was a return visit to PhilServe in Carterton ( as I’d noticed a rust line around the inner circumference of the outside of the rear discs, if that makes sense (see the picture above to see what I’m talking about). Essentially it looks like the new pads are not in contact with the inner portion of the disc, which I thought would be an issue from a braking performance perspective (and hence a Very Bad Thing given the recent weather) and it looks plug ugly, too. However Ollie from PhilServe had a look and declared it normal.

    The theory goes that the discs are worn, hence the new pads will take time to adhere to the discs in terms of the wear pattern being reflected in the pads. To be fair this does sound reasonable, even if at the time of writing I’ve covered 1500 miles since the pads were swapped and there’s no sign as yet of the rust clearing (well, maybe a little very recently). It’s only surface rust, easily removed with some light rubbing and hence the disc isn’t being damaged, but nevertheless it will require careful monitoring to ensure it doesn’t worsen. And if it doesn’t clear at all by March I’ll need to pay for new discs (and new pads again too, I suppose) as otherwise I daresay BMW will send an invoice for replacements when the car goes back, but we’ll get to that later…

    Interesting fact learned here though. When discussing with Ollie on how to accelerate the ‘healing’ process, we both basically agreed that more enthusiastic driving leading to increased application of the traction control (which operates on the rear wheels of course) was needed. Sounded logical. Cue a colleague in the office at this point, something of a BMW geek, who helpfully piped up that swiftly reducing the cruise control from a high-ish cruise (providing nobody is behind you of course) has the effect of applying only the rear brakes, as the cruise doesn’t use the fronts to nip away at the speed.
    So we tried it; accelerate to 70mph then quickly flick the cruise down to 20mph. It feels as if the car has whipped past an angler, his line has then attached itself to the rear bumper and the largest fishing rod you can imagine is reducing our gait to such an extent that you’re both flung forward and sucked back into your seat at the same time, the car essentially getting dragged back to a slower velocity. It’s an odd feeling, and I can’t imagine it does much for the suspension wear, but as it clearly only operates the rear brakes and those are the ones which we need to bed-in quickly, it was worth a go.

    No, it hasn’t completely fixed it at the time of writing, but hey ho we will keep doing this and hopefully within a week or so the pads would have worn down enough at the leading edge (i.e the outer edge of the disc) for the whole thing to then be in contact with the metal surface. So more on that in due course, along with news of replacement front pads which will soon be needed, plus an oil change service. I’m hoping the sheer amount of work the front brakes have to do will ensure they sort themselves out in short order.

    I mentioned a North Wales trip last month in a demo 520d Luxury, and other than the weather, which was truly biblical (thankfully clearing just enough on the Sunday morning to allow me to get the Phantom 3 up in the skies above Betws-y-Coed), the other highlight of the weekend was in cementing my admiration of the F10 5 Series. It just does so much, so well. It has a snug interior and the eight-speed auto provides seamless acceleration resulting in the placebo effect of it feeling faster than the 320d manual.

    Let’s just overlook the fact that the two-litre motor looks almost apologetic in that vast engine bay. It is a handsome beast to look at and was truly comfortable over the course of several hundred long miles through the pouring rain. I just had to have one. So that’s the decision made. An order has already been placed for a Mediterranean blue 520d auto, with Venetian beige interior and black carpets and, all being well, come late March 2016 I’ll be swapping out of KP12 and into the F10. Truth be told, as I think I’ve said before, I should have bought one back in 2013. All good things etc.

    Why not the Jaguar XE I mentioned last month? Two key reasons. First off, pedantry alert – the cup-holder smacks of penny pinching and for whatever reason I really took exception to this. Plus the absence of a cover means that all manner of detritus will gradually accumulate within the recesses and that idea didn’t appeal at all. And second, considering the BMW and the Jaguar share the same ZF eight-speed auto, I was surprised at their different manners. The BMW calibration resulted in smooth and seamless upshifts but I groaned a little at the Jag’s which would mark each change with a distinct ‘step’ in the power delivery. It gives a car character on a test-drive, but over the course of a couple of years’ worth of ownership I suspect it would just become damn annoying.

    Hence, ultimately, the Jag was ruled out. Although it was a tough decision. And a quick thanks here to the guys at Ridgeway Jaguar in Oxford (01865 565411) who were never anything less than friendly and approachable. Mercedes-Benz dealers, take note. So, what have we bought then? Well, there’s no easy way to say this – it’s a £43k 520d, and that price set against that engine choice has caused some mirth amongst friends and family. I could have bought a used Gran Coupé, or an F10 M5. Or a yacht etc. And they’re right, too. And in the case of the M5 I did briefly consider it.

    Then I looked at David’s monthly reports, reminded myself that petrol is not that much cheaper than diesel, and thought again. On a PCP deal, and with a good deposit contribution from BMW (to the tune of £4k) plus a little from ourselves, and a further reduction in order to try and sell more units before the end of the year, the monthly cash flow situation wasn’t impacted too much from having the new car, even at £43k. Introduce an M5 into the equation, though, and the cash flow forecasts take a hammering, and never mind RFL and insurance costs. Plus there’s an indeterminable something about specifying your own car. Hence the decision was made to stay derv.

    £43,000 is a lot of money for a two-litre diesel. It does includes over £8.5k of options by way of compensation though (and in lieu of a larger engine option), as I wanted a nice spec this time around. So, here we go. First option box ticked: the Pro nav pack for £1290. This I’ve always admired in modern BMWs and the bigger screen, new-style larger controller and speedy response of the current version is deeply impressive. Next up, adaptive lights. The demo car didn’t have these, and I suspect those who haven’t driven a car with them fitted would respond to a nighttime drive of the demo car with a ‘yep, those lights are fine I don’t need to spend £540 on fancy ones’.

    Whereas those who have (i.e me) would respond with ‘crikey, these lights are awful. Why are they not dancing along the road surface like somebody off Strictly?’. Ergo, adaptive lights with headlight assist has also been selected.

    Sports seats were next, as whilst the standard pews are comfortable enough, the sports items locate you just that little bit lower. Plus the extra thigh support is welcome, and they look good. As indeed they should for £475. Ambient lighting is absent on the SE so that was ticked for £220, plus initially the sports steering wheel at £110. This was later dropped, however, when it became clear that said wheel had just become the standard fitting (and on mine it will include paddle shifters as part of the upgraded £1685 sports auto option however incongruous paddles will look on a 20d). Electric rear and manual side blinds were also selected at £410 (to stop the hoi polloi from prying, but also in preference to privacy glass, which our daughter complains makes the rear of KP12 too dark, and she’s old enough now to lower the blinds on her own), as was Anthracite Wood at £355. An upgraded BMW-branded hi-fi at around £445 is substituted for the more expensive Harman Kardon option, which I couldn’t quite countenance having sampled the standard system. A little more power is always welcome, though, hence the upgraded system. Oh and we’ve also gone for LED foglights at £175 plus the upgraded air-con with extended features, if for no other reason that it results in several more buttons on the dashboard (and I really like my buttons). I know, I know, a frippery at £305 but there it is. Another frippery is the heated steering wheel, which is good value I thought at £185, especially this time of year. We’ve also specified the Speed limit display function at £250, as the demo car had it (a cunning ploy) and during the North Wales trip I found myself using it fairly often.

    As for the other options, but specifically regarding the technology, we’ve got the reverse camera at £375, surround view at £530 and the Active Security Package for a swallow-hard-and- pay-up £1340. This offers up the ‘Driving Assistant’, consisting of collision mitigation, which is essentially front-pointing cameras which activate the brakes if they deem you’re about to collect the car in front or mow down a pedestrian, plus lane guidance lines, which used to be standard on higher-spec E60s back in the day (my 535d had it as standard back in 2007, for example. Nowadays it’s optional).

    The package also includes Lane Change Warning, which is basically a blind spot monitor. Thus equipped, the F10 will blink at you madly from the inner door mirrors if it detects a car in the blind spot and one attempts to change lane. All very 21st century. Oh and the aforementioned Active Security Package also includes powerfold door mirrors; a nice touch. We’d actually initiated optioned the Advanced Parking Package, which includes the cameras plus Park Assist. But the latter only works when you parallel park, and I cannot remember the last time I had to do that. So a package switch was effected. And that was going to be it. The sales contract was signed and the deposit paid. And then I thought, as bizarre as it sounds, there’s something missing from the spec. BMW’s Head Up Display is a fascinating piece of technology and really adds to the driving experience.

    It was specified on the E60 535d we had in 2007 (OY57VUN in case the owner is out there) and I was aware of the fact that when I sold that car in late 2009, I subsequently didn’t really miss the HUD. That said, I’ve constantly used the HUD on all BMWs thus equipped which I’ve driven since, and it dawned on me that HUD plus the already specified tech would be a nice combination. Plus it would mean three extra buttons in total to the right of the steering column, which the child in me found immensely appealing. The fourth and fifth buttons of course would be Night Vision (which I would never have, as I fail to see the point) and radar-guided cruise, which I find to be pessimistic in the extreme and hence capable of winding me up in very short order. No, the only other option I wanted was the HUD.

    But at £995 it would really take the budget, such as it was by this point, and tear it up. Plus I was aware that BMW had signed and sealed the deal quickly, confirming a build date of early January and hence the time available to make changes was short. In 2007 we procrastinated for too long before deciding that we actually did want to have a sunroof only to be told it was too late and the spec was now final.

    So for once, indecision didn’t reign. The call was made and HUD was added, and the instant I said include it, I knew it was the right thing to do. It adds not only to the driving experience but also the resale value, and really completes the ‘new age’ tech that the car will have. So, there you go. I now have a long-ish wait until March when we will take delivery. And to say I’m a tad excited is a massive understatement.

    All this means, of course, that KP12 has to be prepared for its return to BMW. Which means the roof now has to be repaired plus the wheel needs to be refurbed. I’ve also noticed this month that something has taken a chunk out of a piece of trim on the lower offside front edge down by the foglight housing. I doubt this is classed as ‘wear and tear’ so I will get it replaced. More on that and a final write-up in the coming months.

    TECHNICAL DATA / #BMW-F30 / #BMW-320d-Sport / #BMW-320d-Sport-F30 / #BMW-320d-F30 /

    YEAR: #2012
    TOTAL MILEAGE: 51420
    MPG THIS MONTH: 46.6
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    LONGTERMERS F30 #320d Sport / #BMW-F30 / #BMW-320d-F30 / #BMW-F30 / #BMW-320d /

    I finally managed to find some time to get KP12 serviced this month. As mentioned previously, I’ve been using the service in order to locate local garages, and a few minutes specifying our requirements into the site resulted in a quote coming through via email the following morning. Fast forward a week or so, and Carterton Auto Repair (aka PhilServe, both at hoisted the F30 onto one of its ramps in order to complete the replacement of the rear brake pads. £83 and around 40 minutes was all it took, and whilst the guys did the work I had the use of a warm and comfy lounge area, plus hot coffee should I need it and fast (free) wireless. And the attention of a friendly office spaniel… Can’t ask for more.

    They were even able to reset the service indicator/message on the iDrive, although now that I think about it they didn’t enter an actual note into the service history within the iDrive itself. An oil service and front pads replacement will soon be needed, so will be arranging that with PhilServe over the next month or so and will ask at that point with regards to the service history entries. Excellent, friendly service otherwise though, I highly recommend them. Interestingly, a colleague in work whose X3 is also due for replacement rear pads (at 33k miles, not the 49k or so at which the Three’s were done; I suppose that’s the extra weight of the X3 making itself known?) had a quote from #BMW and the same job came in at £240! So if you’re out of warranty and/or aren’t fixated with main dealer provenance, you know what to do.

    This month has been interesting for other reasons though. I’ve rambled on for months now about replacing KP12 but efforts in this area have been slightly more concentrated recently, although as per normal with me this was more by accident than by design.

    A check of the paperwork for the car confirmed that April next year is the point where it can be returned to BMW. I’ve always known this, but a subsequent conversation with North Oxford BMW (, 01865 319000) informed me that the F10 Five Series of which I’ve always been interested in (truth be told, I probably should have bought one back in 2013), has approximately a 12 week lead time, even now with a replacement imminent. So if I wanted to buy one, I’d need to be ordering around mid-January to ensure mid- April delivery. Factor in it was mid- November when I realised this, but also that most weekends between then and Christmas were booked up with various family visits and/or shopping trips, and it quickly became clear that we needed to get a wiggle on and seriously figure out what we were to do next.

    I’d been mulling over new versus used options seemingly ad nauseum. In the former group, the F10 has always been a contender, but the latter group extended to quite a list, including such tasty morsels as the F01 Seven, E60 M5, Six Series Gran Coupé and elsewhere, Range Rovers and even in particularly weak moments, Maserati Quattroportes. But that new car appeal was strong, and the pull of being able to spec our own car too strong to ignore.

    This is where comes into the picture via a recommendation from a colleague at my office. Now if you’ve not heard of this site I’d advise caution if you suffer even slightly through indecision or OCD. There’s nothing particularly new about carwow as a concept (you punch into the site the car and/or budget and/or specification you are looking at, and dealers who are affiliated with the site then email you their best quotes from all over the country), but as is so often the case, one only finds out about other offerings in a space (such as Broadspeed, but we’ll come to that in detail in a moment) once you start talking to people about the overall need. Ergo, I mentioned carwow to a few people during conversations around replacing KP12 and Broadspeed then came up as another (similar) offering. But two weeks ago, I’d heard of neither company. What’s the point of relaying this? Well I’ll tell you. I ended up requesting quotes for a Land Rover Discovery Sport, a Mercedes E-Class, a Volkswagen Golf R, an Alfa Giulietta, a Lexus IS200t, an Audi S3 Saloon and a Jaguar XE. Oh and a Maserati Ghibli too, in sacrilegious diesel spec.

    Roughly £35k in terms of price except the Maserati which is in the class above, and all automatics of one form or another as I’ve had my fill of manuals. Remember, the idea here is that the dealers respond via the site with their best offers. Also remember that I was doing this towards the end of the year, when the world and his wife in car sales would flog his dog if he thought it would improve his sales figures, and you can appreciate that I quickly received loads of quotes, requiring review, comparison and some form of response (in my opinion). Why no BMWs you ask? They’re not offered on carwow (but are instead available via Broadspeed, hence I needed to talk with another company offering basically the same service, resulting in more emails etc), and having dealt with the concept, I can understand why. I have nothing against car-wow as a service, in fact it helped me enormously as will become clear, but I do wonder how it will affect the industry. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves; back to those quotes.

    Land Rover replied with the square root of nowt. Hardly a disaster as one of the desires for the new steed is a little more poke than I currently have (we’ll come back to this). The VW people were very friendly but ultimately discounted when we had a proper look at the Golf and confirmed it was simply too small for our needs.

    Ditto the Audi. Pity really as both are 300hp AWD pocket-rockets which have the ability to scamper across country in an impressive manner. The Maser quote was actually reasonable given the £48k RRP but the APR was double that of everybody else and hence refused without too much heartache as I will not line bankers’ pockets to that degree. The Alfa was also discounted, again on size (the model I was looking at was the topspec 237hp Quadrifoglio Verde with the same engine as in the 4C sports car and by ‘eck it looks good) so this left the Mercedes-Benz, the Jaguar and the Lexus (Toyota JP). I’d gotten to the point of having a test drive arranged in the Lexus, but then I saw one on a dank and miserable day in Oxford, and it looked awful. None of the lines seemed to go anywhere in particular, but worse was to come when I pointed it out to my wife. The face she pulled said it all, so a quick email to the dealer in question when we returned home knocked that on the head. By this time, I’d been back into North Oxford BMW and explained I’d been looking at these other cars, making it clear I was moving forward. And I also mentioned a Broadspeed quote which claimed around £6k off the list price, but we’ll come back to that. North Oxford duly responded with a quote for my chosen spec and this came in £50 over budget per month on a PCP scheme.

    At this point, things got interesting. Carwow pinged me an email from a Jaguar dealer up north which was offering £3.5k off the price of an XE Portfolio in automatic spec and with metallic paint (which were the parameters I had entered into the site for that particular model).

    So I took that quote into my local Jaguar dealer, and this is where the workings of carwow become worthy of discussion. Essentially, the quote from the other dealer exposed the overall profit margin if the various options available to the dealer were put into the one car (unit bonus, loyalty bonus and so on). Presenting that to my local dealer forced them into either accepting it as a bona fide selling price or sending me to the other dealer. When it became clear we weren’t just tyre-kicking every car in the showroom, the business manager in charge quickly agreed to match the quote and we moved forward, brushing aside in one fell swoop the usual selling Shangri La we all have to endure when buying cars. We had a quote on the table which was bang on budget and a clear basis to continue. Before we get into the merits of XE versus Five Series though, a quick mention here on the E-Class. Now I have tried to love Mercs in recent years, but I cannot quite get my head into that space. This isn’t helped by the dealers, most of which seem to have an attitude I cannot quite fathom. They are not aloof, but at the same time they do not engage like BMW dealers (and incidentally, Lexus dealers are lovely people, as indeed are Jaguar dealers and BMW salesman too) and they do not engender a good feeling when talking to them about what is, for most people, the second biggest purchase in their lives after their house. But the carwow service was talking about an eight grand reduction on the £40k list price for an E250 AMG Night Edition, hence I had to look into it.

    Long story short, the car wasn’t available. By the time I got to actually talk to the dealer a few days later, it became clear that the current E-Class was no longer available for factory order (it’s being replaced next year) and the £8k reduction was on a stock car only. This didn’t sit well with me, as the details in carwow clearly made it plain I wanted a factory order for April delivery. So not only do they not engage, it would appear most of them can’t read either. This may sound harsh but I do feel their dealings with me were a tad disingenuous at best. Hence the conversations stopped there and even though I’ve said this before, I really do suspect that I won’t be going back into any Mercedes dealers any time soon, possibly ever.

    Anyway, back to the discussions with the Jaguar salesmen. A test drive was organised and duly taken. Sharp of steering, snug interior, albeit with a terribly cheap cup-holder for which somebody in the design department appears to have forgotten to design a cover, plenty of poke from the (Ford sourced, and all the better for it) 237hp blown petrol four-pot up front (even though it does look somewhat lost in an engine bay which has clearly been engineered to accept something an awful lot bigger) and a road manner redolent of the F30.

    In short, I loved it. A return visit resulted in me being given the keys for the afternoon and sent on my way sans salesman to try the car on roads I knew well, which was a good sales technique. As is sending us home with the leather sampler in order to mull over our colour choices (check out the picture on the previous page – it’s actually an impressive sight, requires care-to-handle and weighs a fair bit, too…). I really cannot praise Ridgeway Jaguar at Oxford enough – affable and genial and very easy to talk to. And tellingly, none of them have ever worked at Mercedes…

    BMW responded at this point, agreeing to reduce the monthly payment by enough to give me a decision to make. So at the time of writing, I am undecided as I’ve driven one (the XE) but not the other as yet. Yes I’ve driven F10s for the magazine but it’s somehow different when you’re signing away one’s own hardearned.

    The Jaguar has this wonderful sense of occasion and driving it at night instils a feeling of well-being which is palpable. Blue phosphorous lighting combines with high sides, clear instrumentation and a faithful chassis beneath you to foster an environment in which one feels able to drive until the tank runs dry or one runs out of country. It really is a brilliant piece of engineering and goes very well. But compared to the F10… Well, that’s the debate currently raging in my mind at the time of writing in late November. I don’t need to tell you how good the F10 is if you own one.

    What I would say is this. If I bought the Jaguar, I wonder whether it would leave me suspecting I’d gone for the understudy, even though the BMW is down on power and hence fails to tick the performance box I alluded to earlier. Its allure is that strong. This is the question I have to answer before deciding what to do. The decision basically comes down to sticking with what I know and trust (and love) and having the Five Series, or breaking out into something new. BMW is loaning us a 520d Luxury for a long weekend in North Wales and one way or another that will tell the tale. If the Jaguar is still in my thoughts at the end of that round trip, I will know what to do.

    By the time you read this, the final decision will have been made and an order will have been placed, so more on that plus what it’s like to live with an F10 over the course of a few hundred miles through wet and windy Wales next month.

    And what of that Broadspeed quote at £6k less than list? At the time of writing, a little over a week after first sending them the spec, the PCP quote has yet to materialise. It is working with BMW dealers, of course, but one wonders quite how seriously the latter take the queries from Broadspeed if nothing is returned after a week of chasing. Offering massive discounts is all very well, but if you’re unable to back that up with an actual BMW quote then it’s all a bit academic in my view. Mark Williams

    TECH FILE #BMW-F30 / #BMW-320d-Sport-F30 /
    YEAR: #2012
    TOTAL MILEAGE: 51005
    MPG THIS MONTH: 46.6
    COST THIS MONTH: £83 (front pads

    The Jaguar XE isn’t the only car Mark’s been looking at – he’s also pretty keen on the 520d – although he’s ideally after a bit more power than the #BMW offers.

    Mark’s had fun with the Jaguar on-line configurator and has also been checking out the various leathers available for the car. Find out next month if he orders one… or not!
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