(Go Flat Out First Drive REVIEW) 2016 BMW 320d M Sport: Why We Love Diesels In The First Place

The BMW 3 Series has always been the epitome of the compact luxury sedan segment, often called the sports sedan segment because of their target market, and the athletic nature of these vehicles. First off, let’s clarify that it’s not because of our jeepneys that made people love diesels. A trip to Europe is what one needs to know the scale of what a good diesel (supposedly) is. In the wake of the Volkswagen emissions scandal, let us get back to the benefits of having a (good) diesel engine.

Torque. LOTS OF IT!

Diesels have so much torque, it can break wedding ties. While a spec sheet may state that the 0-100 km/h acceleration of a BMW 320d is almost identical to a BMW 320i, the driving experience is completely different. The BMW 320d feels faster than the numbers suggest, because peak torque of diesels are often generated in the lower RPM ranges (around 1,500-3,500 rpm), but thanks to BMW’s TwinPower Turbo technology, the torque is spread in a wider rev range. It is also at this rpm where engines generally operate in normal driving conditions therefore in everyday driving situations, you constantly feel the diesel engine’s strong punch. Diesels also have a lower peak RPM, because of their longer stroke design compared to petrol engines, therefore diesels also tend to have lower horsepower figures compared to petrol engines.

Frugal

It begins with the fuel itself. A diesel contains more energy per atom then petrol, which means more of what is being burned actually powers the car, and not a lot is wasted through heat. This makes an equivalent diesel engine 30% more fuel efficient compared to petrol. 30!! THAT’S FREAKIN’ HUGE

Less CO2 Emissions

The European continent is the diesel engine’s biggest market. This is why most European carmakers have excellent diesel engines, both in terms of performance and refinement. In the Kyoto Protocol, countries needed to have an agreement on how much CO2 they will be reducing. Whereas Japan and America resorted to hybrids, Europe preferred diesels, as it was more cost effective and easier to develop. It is proven that diesels emit less CO2, but this is at the expense of more NOx and particulate emissions.

No Spark Plugs

Well, this isn’t really a major advantage to us in terms of performance. What it only means is that, there is now one less car part that you should be worried. Diesels don’t need spark plugs because of a combination of a diesel engine’s high compression ratio and the high heat content of diesel. All these factors mean diesel doesn’t need any spark plugs to actually produce a spark. A diesel engine needs to have a very strong construction in order for the engine to handle all of the high pressures of the engine’s internals, and this in turn makes the engine have a longer life.

The BMW 320d M Sport

Let us now go back to this BMW 320d. Many motoring journalists think that the BMW 320d is all the car you need, and perhaps I agree with them. The BMW 3 Series is known for its sporty credentials. It’s a fun car to drive, yet it is also very practical for everyday use. The 3 Series is so good, this car is one of the the longest running vehicles in Car and Driver’s Annual 10 Best List.

The BMW 320d is often credited for being one of the best all rounders. It is sporty, practical, comfortable, and frugal if you pick the inline-4 models, though the inline-6s have decent economy as well. It also has a perfect 50-50 weight distribution all around in its RWD chassis, and that means that out in the curves, the BMW 320d is as sporty as any sports sedan could get. With a 0-100 km/h acceleration time of around 7.5 seconds, this is certainly no slouch, whilst having an average fuel economy of 10-12 km/l in my city driving, yet this is with the Driver Experience Control set to Sport. It’s a win-win situation!

Outside, the BMW 320d’s M Sport package graces the 3 Series with a more aggressive body design, 5-twin spoke alloy wheels, and stiffer springs. The BMW typical kidney grille that now connects with the headlights is a design language that was started in this 3 Series, and is eventually rolled out to newer BMWs. The halo ring LED daytime running lights look better than ever, and with a facelift around the corner, the LED daytime running light design looks even better. With a long hood and a short front overhang, the BMW 3 Series has a silhouette that is distinct from its rivals. At the back, BMW’s typical L-shaped LED rear light profile and long rear overhang give the 3 Series an unmistakable look and night and increased practicality thanks to greater trunk space.

The interior is posh and ergonomic to use. Thankfully, the M Sport pack means aluminum trim is offered as standard instead of wood, which I wholly prefer. A blue strip underneath the aluminum trim and blue stitching around the seats clearly state the sporty intentions of the M Sport pack. BMW’s iDrive is better than ever. For me, it’s simple and straightforward to use, and this will most probably be the case to millennials. To those who rely on their kids to learn how to use a smartphone, using iDrive may take some getting used to. The driving position of BMWs are excellently sporty. The range of adjustment is plentiful, and willingly goes to my low slung driving position. At the back is space for three adults. The E90 3 Series wasn’t particularly great in terms of backseat space, made worse by a huge transmission tunnel. While the transmission tunnel still intrudes in this F30 3 Series, the longer wheelbase, wider rear seats, and bigger footwells mean outboard passengers have a greater room to stretch, and the middle passenger can share some footroom with the outer passengers.

The previous generation BMW E90 3 Series had a harsh ride, made worse by the fact that BMW insists on having run-flat tires instead of being able to carry a spare wheel. With the stiffer springs offered as standard in this 320d M Sport, you’d expect it to have a harsh ride right? Thankfully, that’s not the case. This BMW 3 Series strikes a decent balance between comfort and sport. Highly recommended are the optional Adaptive Dampers. With it, the BMW 320d continuously monitors road conditions, and depending on which setting the driver selects in the Driver Experience Control (Sport, Sport +, Comfort, ECO PRO), the BMW 3 Series can either deliver a silky smooth ride, or a firm ride for better handling.

This particular BMW 320d is on sale for P3,550,000, and if you are interested, visit any of BMW’s 8 dealerships across the country.