For 16 years there was always a three-point from BMW standing in front of my door. It would probably have been the same today if at least one of the dealers had been able to form a contact from the contact details provided by someone willing to buy. So this trip was a bit like coming home, especially since the 14 days in the current 320d Touring have shown that BMW markets its progressiveness primarily through infotainment gimmicks, but by no means neglects the core of what the brand was once about.
Externally, the Dreier has put on a lot of fat with the latest model change, the slim line that has characterized at least a few generations is a thing of the past. In view of this subjective view, BMW does not have to grieve, the first three-way Touring will remain visually unmatched for me. The dimensions have increased again compared to the very successful, direct predecessor. At just over 4.7 meters, not much is missing on the BMW 5 Series Touring of the E39 series built until 2004.
Better processed than its predecessor
A few years ago, my colleague Daniel bought one of the first three of the previous generation as a used car. Now I’m admittedly a bit picky about the processing. What was on offer there shook me a little: crooked seams and gaps in the door handles, real wood that looked as if it had been felled in the Playmobil forest and a selection of materials that only harmonized with the new car prices from the shareholders’ point of view. BMW made noticeable improvements in the 2015 facelift.
The current three makes it better right from the start: The test car was put together carefully, no major blunders could be found. Two little things testify to the whining at a very high level. A small plastic seam could be felt on the selector lever of the automatic. If you open the rear window, you can see the huge joints in the trunk trim to the left and right – this can certainly be solved more skillfully. The rest was absolutely impeccable.
Update shortly after the start
In the past few years, the 320d was an often chosen company car. Although the three has only been on the market since 2019, the machine has already received an update. BMW has been installing mild hybridization here since March. But first things first: The core engine has been on the market since 2014 and was fitted with a bi-turbo charger in 2017. The turbocharger has a variable inlet geometry. Fuel is injected with a maximum of 2000 bar. In contrast to the predecessor N47, BMW uses solenoid valve injectors in the B47. The now standard eight-speed automatic converter can hardly be missing the manual transmission previously offered as an alternative. Gradation, switching time and speed are excellent, which the majority of customers have seen in the past and preferred the automatic.
Load point shift
Mild hybridization consists of a 48-volt starter generator that allows the load point to be shifted. With 11 Ah, i.e. 0.528 kWh, the battery is quite small in this format, as usual, but it is enough for the purpose. The aim is to operate the combustion engine as close as possible to its best efficiency. If the load requirement is slightly below this best point, the small battery is charged; if it is higher, energy is drawn from it. Of course, the memory is also filled via recuperation. A large battery is not required for this shift in the load point, which makes this type of hybridization comparatively cheap.
The starter generator can contribute 8 kW. That doesn’t sound like much, but it still has an impact. We last had the two-liter diesel with the internal designation B47D20TÜ1 in the BMW X3 20d (test) in the editorial office. In the X3, which we had here without a mild hybrid, it seemed as if the machine had to take a breath for a minute – to speak of a turbo lag would be exaggerated. Nevertheless, the marginal response delay was noticeable. In the mild hybrid it is even smaller, if you don’t pay close attention to it, you will probably hardly notice it.
The promised performance remained unchanged, although the mild hybridization has made the 320d Touring 45 kilograms heavier. BMW now names 1705 kg, each including a 75 kg standard payload. The station wagon is pretty nimble when required, how much, a look back shows: The first BMW M3 has to be taken in hand by a very skilled driver to leave the ordinary 320d behind in the standard sprint. So the standards have shifted. The difference in practice is more serious than in the standard sprint: In the old M3, something only really happened above 4000 rpm, and the diesel started vehemently from around 1300 rpm. The 320d always appears to be perfectly motorized and stamps the six-cylinder 330d and M340d for what they are: luxury engines with a finer sound than the four-cylinder can offer.
Standard tanks are too small
The exhaust gas aftertreatment consists of a storage and an SCR catalytic converter. Since switching to the mild hybrid, the 320d finally also meets the Euro 6d emission standard. Interested parties should pay attention elsewhere: The standard tank equipment is actually pretty tight. The fuel tank is 40 liters and the Adblue supply is just 10.4 liters. For an increase to 59 liters (diesel) or 18.9 liters (Adblue), BMW charges just under 166 euros – a pretty bold announcement for a car, which is mainly used for business trips in a hurry.
Test car with an expensive sports package
The test car was equipped with every conceivable escalation level that should bring the three faster around the corner. These include a sports suspension with adaptive dampers, M-Sport brakes, variable sports steering, 19-inch rims with Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tires in the format 225/40 at the front and 255/35 at the rear. A limited slip differential can be ordered for the 330i and the six-cylinder.