The excellent 3 Series receives a fiery 3.0- litre, straight-six diesel engine and bags more space in the rear but has that been at the expense of performance? AOL Cars clambers into the 'Ultimate Driving Machine' to find out...
What is it?
A favourite among the middle classes, management types, traffic cops – anyone in fact. Now in its sixth generation, the BMW 3 Series Touring has been a classic in estate car circles for thirty years. And, in 330d form it's the most powerful diesel in the range.
What's under the bonnet?
A lusty 3.0-litre, straight-six diesel. It's an engine which has respect the world over and, amazingly even lovers of petrol-powered BMWs seriously consider it if they need to reduce their fuel bills but not at the cost of performance. The mighty 3.0-litre packs 258bhp and a hefty 560Nm of torque. It means that the 330d Touring can get to 60mph in a frankly amazing 5.4 seconds while emitting just 135g/km of CO2. Meanwhile, on the combined cycle, it'll be returning a strong 55.4mpg, and an eight-speed automatic gearbox is the only transmission option.
What's the spec like?
Well – there are a number. Mercedes' C-Class is one that immediately springs to mind as does Audi's A4 Avant. While both match the BMW for badge snobbery, they cannot compete in the driving department – the 3 Series is head and shoulders above them. There's also the Volvo V60 for those after a more left-field choice – it's simple and comfortable cabin being major plus-points but there's no 3.0-litre diesel variant.
Is it any good?
On the road, there's nothing that can compare to the 330d. It's very sure-footed and there's a tremendous amount of feel through the steering. The engine is a little rattly but the power delivery is tremendously smooth – something that the eight-speed auto 'box just adds to. Our 330d Luxury was spacious, comfortable and luxurious – but it was the performance that really amazed. It'll keep up with machinery costing double the price.
The AOL Cars verdict
We don't often heap so much praise on a car at AOL Cars, but the 330d Touring is one of those rare motors that ticks virtually every box. It's practical, comfortable, good-looking, respectable, tasteful, fast and (fairly) cheap to run. For normal people, spending normal money on a car (yes, £38k does come into this category), the 330d Touring is probably the best car on the market.
Model: BMW 330d Luxury Touring
Engine: 3.0-litre, straight-six diesel
Power: 258bhp, 560Nm
Max speed: 155mph (limited)
0-60mph: 5.4 seconds
MPG: 55.4 (combined)
Emissions: 135g/km CO2