“I wish this middle seat was more comfortable,” said my wife on our family road trip back to the UK from Spain.
Speaking of toddlers, my two year old chilled out quickly in her child seat. My other children, aged five and eight, took it in turns to join me up front, perched on their boosters.
My son was particularly enthralled by the ‘M’ look of the car. I couldn’t help but be of the same mind, because if you’re five or 75, the M Sport package draws the eye. The lowered sport suspension, jauntier front and rear bumpers, and 19-inch wheels are suitably aggressive, while inside the cabin, there are supportive leather seats, as well as climate control and those all-important ‘M’ badges.
I had to motor solo from northern Spain to the Costa Blanca where we were holidaying. That was 400 miles, so, all in all, I clocked 1700 miles without sharing the driving – and in all that time I never felt exhausted. My wife was meant to be my co-driver, but ended up sandwiched between our two year old and whichever other child wasn’t riding shotgun. As any parent will know, however relaxed a tot might seem, they can still be demanding – and mummy had to sit next to our little lady at all times – the explanation behind the centre seat gripe.
The BMW 3 Series has been given sexier lights and bumpers, new engines and a subtly altered interior.
The fresh £33,635 320d M Sport automatic is particularly important, because it’s the sports saloon of choice in Britain. Its 2 litre turbodiesel engine churns out a meaty 187bhp and gives the car a substantial lick of speed. And when you offset its 0-62mph dash of 7.2 seconds and 146mph maximum speed with an average 67.3mpg, it’s hard to find fault.
Indeed, the four-door saloon is built to live on the motorway, as my family Euro-trip confirmed. The agility of the ride is a real advantage, the sat-nav is top-notch and the seats (apart from the middle bench area) amount to long-haul heaven.
The BMW is more than capable of hammering flat out across the Continent hour after hour. The 320d M Sport will tear up unoccupied stretches of blacktop at 140mph, no worries. This halves the official fuel consumption figure, but when it’s 2pm on a Sunday in mainland Europe and school starts at 9am on Monday in Britain, it’s amazing how little you care about that.
With the Eurotunnel taking just 35 minutes, I had to remember that, back in the UK, my higher-than-you’d-risk-in-Britain motorway pace needed harnessing, big style. The latest BMW 320d M Sport is not only one of the most awesome compact executive cars ever – it is a thoroughly wholesome family motor, too.
- Max speed: 146mph
- 0-62 mph: 7.2 secs
- Combined mpg: 67.3
- Engine: 1995cc, 4 cylinder, turbodiesel
- Max. power (bhp): 187
- Max. torque (lb/ft): 295
- CO2: 116 g/km
- Price: £33,635
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