BMW 320d xDrive M

Sport

 BMW 320d xDrive,  front action
 BMW 320d xDrive,  front action 2
BMW 320d, 2019, front, action
BMW 320d, 2019, front
 BMW 320d xDrive, full front action
 BMW 320d xDrive, rear action
BMW 320d, 2019, side
 BMW 320d xDrive, dashboard
 BMW 320d xDrive, boot

IT'S the junior manager's aspirational set of wheels...the saloon that epitomises thrusting young professionals with a bright future.

The BMW 3 Series is also a great drive. Ever since the original model was introduced back in the mid-1970s it has been a leader in terms of sporting behaviour and performance.

Like most cars, it has grown in size and sophistication, but it has stayed faithful to its original formula in providing family practicality alongside dynamic handling and power by the bucketload.

None more so than today's version, the seventh generation, which took a bow at the Paris Motor Show last year and you are now starting to see on our roads.

Mind you, it might be hard to pick out from the old one because the styling is very familiar although it is now as wide as 7 Series of the Eighties and as long as the 1990's 5 Series.

To be honest, the latest styling works a treat and the 320d xDrive M Sport I tried in metallic Portomao blue looked a treat.

You expect punchy acceleration from a Beemer, and this one delivers. Despite being close to the bottom of the line-up, the two-litre diesel which has less than 200bhp on tap, despatches 62mph in less than seven seconds and will max out at 150mph.

The power spread is impressive with a steady flow through the rev range which is perfectly manipulated by an eight-speed dual clutch automatic gearbox. Steering paddles are a feature of the M Sport and well worth making use of to get the most enjoyment out of the engine.

Permanent intelligent four-wheel-drive ensures the car stays securely planted on the road. There's minimum body roll and the ride is on the firm side of comfortable, the payback being intuitive handling and leech-like roadholding. The steering, too, is better and more communicative than most rivals.

The big surprise for me was the hushed cabin and the aura of refinement. With little or no windnoise thanks partly to new window-glazing, and a muted engine note, it is hard to believe this is a diesel. Only the abundance or torque and its frugality are reminders that you need to refuel at the black pump.

Although diesel car sales continue to slide, the 1,991cc, fourpot engine is an illustration of just how much latest oil burners have improved. With emissions of only 121g/km owners can expect to squeeze nearly 50 miles out of a gallon in everyday conditions.

Cabin design follows BMW's well-worn pattern of heavy duty, quality plastic mouldings, large clear dials and a very useable touchscreen which incorporates most of the necessary functions. Flashes of illuminated blue strips brighten proceedings and lend a note of sportiness.

The front seats, though very comfortable, are quite narrow but hug you well during fast cornering. Rear seat legroom is noticeably improved and the boot is comparable in capacity with rivals Audi A4 and Mercedes C-Class.

FAST FACTS

BMW 320d xDrive M Sport

Price:£38,710

Mechanical:187bhp, 1,995cc, 4cyl diesel engine driving four-wheels via automatic gearbox

Max Speed: 150mph

0-62mph: 6.8 seconds

Combined MPG: 61.4

Insurance Group: 28

C02 emissions: 121g/km

Bik rating: 34%

Warranty: 3yrs/60,000 miles

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