Melinda Ferguson finds it hard to choose between petrol and diesel derivatives of the new BMW 3-Series, which were recently launched in the stunning surrounds of Cape Town.
Whenever a new 3-Series hits the scene, there’s tangible excitement in the hearts of petrol (and diesel) heads.
This sedan has chalked up more than 15 million units internationally, so it’s not surprising that it’s the bread and butter of the Bavarian manufacturer.
After getting behind the wheels of the two new G20 models – the 320d and 320i – on launch last week in Cape Town, my guess is that eight consecutive year sales records will soon become nine.
No longer manufactured at the local BMW Rosslyn plant, the new 3-series is now produced in Munich and Mexico.
I started my run in the new 330i, powered by a feisty 2.0-litre 4-cylinder turbocharged engine. Ooh la la. With 190kW of heady power and 400Nm torque, on Sport mode the sleek sedan easily sailed from 0-100kms in just 5.8 seconds.
On the second day of the launch I took the amazingly un-diesel sounding 320d with 140kW and 400Nm out along scenic Cape roads and mountain passes. The diesel derivative is the king of consumption at just 4.6 L/100km. But in all honesty, it was difficult to pick between the two. They are both superb rear wheel drives, powered by a world class eight-speed automatic transmission. Both showed incredible roadholding and suspension along rain-soaked, hair-raisingly bendy mountain passes.
At the press briefing we were assured that there has been much refinement in the new 3, by way of torque, power, reduced fuel consumption and emissions compared to its predecessor.
While the engines might not be totally new, the tech and look of the cabin is. You can’t help but notice the stunning centrally mounted infotainment screen with it’s all new user interface which looks a lot like my sleek iPad tablet. This set up is a techie’s dream with its intuitive interface, responsive to both touch and hand gestures.
BMW 330i Standard Model R649 000
BMW 320d Standard Model R649 000
Rating: 5 stars
I was really impressed by the sophisticated semi-autonomous driving tech which allows some hands-off driving where the car will instinctively accelerate or brake when needed. I wasn’t brave enough to try this on steep mountain bends but on the straight highways it worked superbly. I drove with Lane Assist on in the 330i and at times it felt a bit over zealous – a little over-sensitive to narrow mountain passes. In retrospect I realised I’d had a bit of a blonde moment and should have only used it on straight open roads where it really works superbly in keeping religious to lanes.
Of course I’m keen as a bean to test drive the performance M340i xDrive later in 2019 but actually both the 330i and 320d more than did the job on my speedy heart.