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Car reviews - BMW - 3 Series - 330d sedan

The Car

BMW logo24 Nov 2009

BMW has launched a high-performance 3 Series diesel with an engine straight from the 730d.

The 330d joins the 320d as the second diesel in the 3 Series range and takes aim at high-output diesel versions of the Audi A4 and Mercedes-Benz C-class.

The price for the 330d has been set at $87,250, which means it slots it between the non-turbo petrol 325i at $75,990 and the twin-turbo petrol 335i at $107,300.

It runs the same 3.0-litre turbo-diesel in-line six cylinder as the just-released 730d full-sized luxury sedan.

This all-aluminium common-rail turbo diesel produces a respectable 180kW at 4000rpm, but it is the torque figure of 520Nm that is the real eye-opener.

All of this torque is available from just 1750rpm all the way through to 3000rpm.

This allows the 330d to dash from 0-100km/h in just 6.2 seconds, which is impressive for a petrol model, let alone a diesel.

This performance does not impinge on fuel economy, with the official fuel consumption set at just 6.8 litres per 100km. For those unfamiliar with the vagaries of the new luxury car tax system, getting below the 7L/100km mark means the 330d dodges $5000 of tax which helped BMW Australia position the car below $90,000.

The diesel engine is linked to a six-speed automatic transmission which can be controlled via the regular shifter or the standard paddles on the steering wheel. There is no diesel version available.

While the 330d does not come with all the gear of the 335i, there is still a fair amount of standard equipment.

This includes electrically adjustable leather seats, the base navigation system, adaptive bi-xenon headlights, a 10 speaker sound system with MP3 input, keyless entry and start, front and rear parking sensors, Bluetooth phone preparation and a leather-wrapped sports steering wheel.

Compared with the 320d, the 330d adds 17-inch light alloy wheels, performance brakes, chrome exterior details and a dual exhaust pipe.

The brake package includes ventilated discs of 348mm at the front and 336mm at the rear, grabbed by single-piston floating callipers.

Its low-profile run-flat tyres are different sizes front to rear – 225/45 on the front and 255/40 at the rear.

The 330d weighs 1550kg, which is the same number as the 335i twin-turbo petrol version.

A competitor comparison sheet provided by BMW Australia shows the 330d is considerably lighter than its rivals including the C320 CDI Mercedes at 1700kg and the Audi A4 3.0 TDI quattro at 1690kg, the latter carrying the extra weight of all-wheel drive.

The BMW uses just 0.1 litres per 100km less fuel than the Audi and emits 2g/km of C02 (at 180g/km), while the Mercedes uses 7.4L/100km and produces 196g/km.

All cars are a similar size, but the BMW does have a smaller boot – 460 litres compared with 475 litres in the Mercedes and 480 litres on the Audi.

When it comes to price, the Audi has the edge at $86,056 compared with the BMW price tag of $87,250 and the Mercedes’ $97,900.

As is always the case with BMW, the 330d comes with a long list of options, including metallic paint at $1840, premium satellite navigation with colour screen for $4100 and a sunroof for $2920.

The 330d is also available with the popular $4800 Sports Pack which includes a whole range of M division gear including a body kit, unique 17-inch alloy wheels, anthracite roof lining, aluminium interior trim, sports seats, sports steering wheel and firmer suspension.

The 3 Series was updated late last year and the facelift included some sheet metal changes including a new nose with a bulging bonnet as well as a revised boot and new tail-lights.

BMW also used to opportunity to improve the iDrive information controller which now features a range of buttons around the rollerball control which are effectively sub-menus.

BMW Australia is hoping the 330d will help boost 3 Series sales which are down by 8.3 per cent to the end of June, according to VFACTS figures.

In that period, BMW has sold 2438 3 Series models (not including coupes and convertibles).

Mercedes sold 3088 C-class cars in the same period, but its decline is greater, with an 18.9 per cent drop on last year.

Audi is moving against the trend, increasing sales of its A4 model, even if this is only 0.4 per cent. The company sold 1939 A4s to the end of June.

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