The BMW 320d – the ultimate mobile office

If you spend a lot of time on the road for work then you are really going to like what the all-new BMW 320d has to offer. The Munich mile-muncher has been given a 21st century makeover and can now be connected directly to your 24/7 life. This is the first step towards your car becoming your ultimate mobile office as well as your ultimate driving machine.

The connectivity is thanks to the BMW Operating System 7.0 and natural voice recognition that allows you to tell the car what you would like to adjust or do. The voice control works well for making calls and entering a destination, but you need to enter the destination by spelling it out to the assistant, so make sure you know this before you try and enter your destination.

The 10.25” infotainment screen has beautiful graphics and gesture control, something I really couldn’t get the hang of using, but thankfully the ‘old-fashioned’ rotating controller still works well. The Navigation System Professional is very intelligent so when you set a destination the screen automatically zooms in as you approach an intersection so you can see more clearly where you need to go and the same things happens on the head up display so you don’t even need to take your eyes off the road, the map is also displayed on the centre of the driver’s dash.

You get a three year subscription to BMW ConnectedDrive Services, which includes free usage of vehicles apps via BMW Online (News and Weather) and Connected Package Professional with real time traffic information and Concierge Services via the in-built 4G LTE network SIM card. You can even access your email and calendar via the infotainment system. Apple CarPlay is available for one year and after that it will cost $179 for 12 months, $479 for 36 months, and $639 for an unlimited-term plan.

Your media options include AM/FM radio, DAB+ digital radio, Bluetooth, USB and a 20GB hard drive for audio file storage. At the front of centre console there is wireless charging for compatible devices, one standard size USB port and one 12V outlet. I didn’t like the Aluminium Tetragon trim or that the cup holders here are quite small, but you have a larger drink holder in the front door pockets. Under the arm rest you get an OK sized storage cubby with one mini USB port.

The driver’s dash has been replaced with the BMW 12.3” digital instrument display, which clearly displays information to the driver and changes configuration depending on the drive mode you have selected. There are four drive modes on the 320d Sport, Comfort, Eco Pro and Adaptive and I spent most of my time in Comfort mode and enjoyed the smooth, quiet ride that the 320d provides.

Another feature you will really appreciate if you spend many hours a day driving are the sport seats for driver and front passenger, which are very comfortable. My 320d had the optional ($600) 2-way lumbar support and side bolstering support. The seats were not heated or cooled though and the steering wheel wasn’t heated either.

The 320d has a nice thick steering wheel with wheel mounted shifters if you want to take control of the smooth 8-speed steptronic sport automatic gearbox. This steering wheel is part of the M Sport Package, a no cost option on the 320d. The M Sport Package also includes M Sport Suspension, M Aerodynamics package (aerodynamic front and rear bumper trims, side sills), Black with blue contrast stitching Alcantara/Sensatec combination upholstery and  BMW Individual headliner in Anthracite.

The rear seats have two ISOFIX/three rear tether child seat restraint points and in reality would only fit two car seats or adults in the back. There is ample head and leg room for adults and the head rests can be flipped up for when adults are in the back and flipped down the rest of the time. Rear passengers get air temp, air speed and mode control and there are two mini USB ports and one 12V outlet below the climate controls. The central arm rest folds down and has two small drink holders and a storage cubby under the arm rest. There is additional drink bottle storage in the rear door pockets also.

The gesture open boot ($900 option) is a good size and you could fit a pram and the weekly shop with a little bit of strategic packing. The boot has a 12V outlet, tie down points and a hook for hanging shopping bags. It also has a through-loading system with 40:20:40 split rear seats.

The diesel engine certainly isn’t agricultural and you only know you are driving a diesel on start-up without the radio on or if you are outside of the car due to the noise of the engine and once driving you get no sense that it is a diesel. The 2.0 litre four cylinder turbo charged diesel engine has 140kW and 400Nm of torque and will do 0-100km/h in 6.8 seconds, not too tardy. The official combined fuel consumption is 4.5L/100km and for my week driving the 320d I used just 6.0L/100km, which is better than the Kia Cerato GT and Lexus LS500h I have driven, but not as good as the Toyota Camry Hybrid.       

Active safety features on my 320d included lane departure warning, lane change warning, front collision warning with brake intervention, rear crossing traffic warning and rear collision prevention. The reversing camera is really good and has 360o view with sensors all round and when you put the 320d in Park it has door indicators so you can judge if you have enough room to open the doors. The 320d has standard cruise control, auto high beam and auto wipers, with an indicator to tell you when you have the wipers set on auto, which I think is a great feature.

The 320d has eight airbags in total: front airbags for driver and front passenger, side airbags for driver and front passenger integrated in the seat backrest bolsters, head airbags for all four outer seats. The current 3 Series does not have an ANCAP safety rating, but the previous version did have a 5-star ANCAP safety rating.

I liked at night that the BMW ‘woke up’ when you approach even before you unlock the car and lights up the door handles and also puddle lights to guide you to your car and make it just a bit safer. As part of the ambient lighting (11 ambient lighting choices and a $700 option) the strip on the door flashes red when you open the door to warn other road users that the door is open.

All new BMWs come with a three year unlimited kilometre warranty with BMW Roadside assistance. The intelligent BMW Condition Based Servicing system available on the 320d monitors the individual components of your vehicle’s service requirements and notifies you in advance when a service is due. Your vehicle then sends all relevant servicing data directly to your preferred BMW dealer.

You can also opt in to the BMW Service Inclusive package, which covers your scheduled servicing costs for a specified duration or distance (whichever comes first) for a single, once-off advance payment. This is available for up to ten years and 200,000km and for a 5 year/80,000km package the price starts at $1,565 for 3 Series BMWs.

The BMW 320d starts at $67,900 plus on-road costs and as tested my 320d was $77,500 plus on-roads. For this you are getting a fuel efficient, safe, comfortable and connected four door sedan that will seamlessly blend into your life. If you want to find out more visit your preferred BMW dealer.

Pros Cons
Fuel efficient and quiet diesel engine Apple CarPlay has an annual subscription cost
Excellent voice control system Doesn’t have heated and cooled seats
Really nice cabin layout Only has standard cruise control

Photographs by Driven Women Magazine.