BMW 320i Steptronic review

Bmw 320

BMW’s all-new 3-Series sets the bar in terms of attention to detail and build quality. Here’s why the new BMW 320i Steptronic is worth your attention if you’re looking for an executive sedan.

The BMW 320i Steptronic review by David Taylor

BMW 3 Series is the breadwinner?

There are around 1 000 units sold each month in South Africa and the 3-Series forms the bread-and-butter of BMW sales. There’s even a BMW factory in Pretoria that helps satisfy the demand for 3-Series models. Therefore, it can be said that the 3-Series is one car that BMW simply cannot afford to mess up.

??The BMW 320i Steptronic, one of the most attractive cars in its class

Thankfully, BMW has done a sterling job on the new F30 3-Series. I knew it was going to be good, but this good? Wow, it’s a rather impressive piece of kit. The Melbourne red test unit was certainly eye-catching on the road thanks to a combination of its daytime-running lights, red paint and great looks. Let’s be honest, five-door passenger sedans aren’t the beauty queens of the motoring world and thanks to some subtle design cues taken from its 5-Series big brother, you’re presented with a vehicle that looks pricey and classy.

Brisk, yet efficient performance?

There’s an all-new 2.0-litre turbo four-cylinder engine with 135kW and 320Nm on tap. It may not be impressive on paper but thanks to a clever 8-speed sporty auto gearbox, the power is available when you need it. It’s smooth, smart and overtaking is simple. It’s pretty quick too, yet light on fuel. During the time that I had the BMW 320i, the trip computer was reading 8L/100km thanks to the clever Eco Plus driving mode.

Well-built and plush interior?

The interior has a distinct modern feel to it and there’s a strong feeling that you’re in a premium product. The build quality is impressive and it feels well put together. It’s spacious too, with ample legroom for rear passengers and a boot that easily swallows plenty of luggage.

Incredible levels of gadgetry

In terms of technology, the only limit is your bank balance. This particular test unit was loaded with pretty much every option from the BMW arsenal which made it pricey, but it was a perfect opportunity to sample the latest gadgets. For starters, the car has five cameras to assist with parking manoeuvres. Then there’s the ability of being able to parallel park automatically. Your mirrors have warning lights in them to tell you if there’s a vehicle in your blind spot. If you drift out of your lane, the steering wheel vibrates to alert you. The tow bar can retract out of sight when you’re not towing. There’s also a head-up display which displays your current speed, the speed limit of the road you’re on and street names if the GPS is active. This car also came with the high-quality Harmon Kardon audio system which connects seamlessly to music players through USB.

The BMW 320i Steptronic verdict

This sounds like this is the perfect businessman’s car. Like all cars there are some shortcomings. My first gripe is personal. The standard run-flat tyres are a little noisy on the open road. It’s not catastrophic but when you consider how refined and classy the 320 is, it’s silly. The other problem is that the options list can be a costly exercise. Yes, there are absolute must-haves like the 8-speed auto gearbox and Harman/Kardon audio system, but you must spec your car extremely carefully. Is it worth it? Absolutely.
  • BMW 320i price as evaluated (Base model): R361, 000
  • Why you should: Feels and looks expensive, thrifty fuel consumption, looks good, incredible technology, astounding build quality.
  • Why you shouldn’t: Aside from my runflat noise issue, there’s no real reason why you shouldn’t consider a 3-Series.
  • It would be better if: Some of those options were standard features like a USB port and center armrest.
  • View the BMW 320i Steptronic: New / Used
  • Competitors worth checking out: Audi A4, Mercedes-Benz C-Class, Honda Accord, Volkswagen CC, Suzuki Kizashi, Alfa Romeo 159.