BMW 320d Touring xDrive 2013 Review

BMW 320d Touring xDrive 2013 Review

Four-wheel-drive station wagons are good if you like skiing and other outdoor pursuits – you lead a life a little less boring. Your adventures might see you on softer or more slippery ground, but you don’t want to have the inconvenience, sloppy handling and poor fuel economy of an SUV.

BMW-320d-xDrive-Touring-rear-quarterThe 320d comes with xDrive which is BMW’s all-wheel-drive system. This means that the 135kW 2-litre turbodiesel has no chance of overwhelming the available traction, even though there’s 380Nm on tap. It also means it scores a slippery 0.32 coefficient of drag which leads to some fairly frugal motoring: 4.5l/100km (when using the Eco Pro mode, which can reduce fuel consumption by 20% if you follow its tips, too).

BMW-320d-xDrive-Touring-front-interiorEco Pro adjusts the accelerator pedal and gearbox parameters. Shift points are changed, heating and climate control systems are modified to take less power from the engine, and you are given feedback on the display as to how much Eco Pro is contributing to fuel consumption savings.

Consumption is also enhanced by the auto stop/start function, which stops the engine when you are stationary, and brake energy regeneration which captures energy when braking and helps charge the battery. Capturing braking energy means that the engine has less load under full acceleration because it doesn’t have to charge the battery at the same time.

Put it in sport mode, and you should be able to achieve 0-100kph times of around 8 seconds as the 8-speed gearbox swaps its super-slick cogs.

BMW-320d-xDrive-Touring-sideThe Touring versions of BMWs look better, in my opinion, than the sedans. There’s a strong forward-sloping line from the rear lights to the front fender which tops off a sculpted door panel. But it’s not these features that help particularly with the aerodynamics; it’s the front apron/splitter and smooth underbody lining (which also improves acoustics). An integrated ‘air curtain’ lets air pass around the front wheel housings via two vertical inlets. Once up-to-speed, this air curtain reduces turbulence and drag.

BMW-320d-xDrive-Touring-hidden-compartmentThe load space is practical with a hidden under-floor compartment big enough to take a laptop and other things you want to keep out of sight. A cargo blind will hide larger items in the boot. With the split folding rear seats you can get up to 1500 litres of space in the back.

It’s good that the automated tailgate has filtered down into this model – it’s useful when you’re unloading the kinds of loads that a station wagon should be bought for.

Stuff that’s problematic: cabin storage is really restricted. The central binnacle is ridiculously small and has that European phone connector that no one uses – almost every other car we get has a USB and/or iPhone connector. The glove box is taken up mostly with the voluminous manual, and there’s just not enough places to put things (unless you want to put things in the boot).

BMW-320d-xDrive-Touring-rear-seatsSome of the switchgear feels a little cheap, especially on the steering wheel, compared to the excellent fit and finish of the rest of the cabin and its Sport Line package.

BMW-320d-xDrive-Touring-rear-cameraOur test car came with $10,650 of extras that included. 18-inch alloys look the part, and the bi-xenon headlights are cool. The navigation system is a substantial $2500 and the head-up display that projects your speed onto the windscreen is $2000. The Sport Line package adds leather upholstery, high-gloss black interior trim, door sill finishers in aluminium and a few other miscellaneous chrome details such as surrounds on the air conditioning and radio, and red piping on the seats. That boosts the price from $84,400 to $95,050.

What’s it like to drive? Well, it’s a car that doesn’t get in the way of you making progress down the road. It feels solid, but also unexciting, which is, I suppose, what most people will want out of their driving experience. If you’re heading down to the mountain with a couple of snowboards on the roof and it’s icy, a fidgety, engaging ride is the last thing you want. It’s a good performer, but it doesn’t feel different to, well, name any other station wagon or sedan in the $60-80,000 range.

So, overall, the 320d xDrive has a certain ‘BMWness’ about it, and it is a car that gets things done with no fuss. You won’t notice it – it’s kind of perfectly boring for your perfectly less-than-boring adventurous life.

Price: $84,400 ($95,050 with supplied options)

Pros

  • Good all-round package
  • Excellent fuel economy

Cons

  • Cabin storage

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