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Think BMW, and the first model that usually comes to mind - for most folk - is the 3 Series. Ubiquitous, the model has been at the forefront of things from the get-go, and while the brand has evolved its lineup to i...
This would be more of between the 316i and the 320d, with the 320d being the one I went for in the end, but for the most part they apply for both.
Design wise, I have to say it is probably one of the best looking 3 series yet. Daring yet not overdone, sharp yet not too dramatic, the 3 series is like a tailored suit from Saville Row. There's really no angle that puts the car in bad light, visually. The predator like front is very nice at night, and so are the LED light bars in the rear. In comparison to the Audi A4 (which I did have), the F30 looked better IMO, even in comparison to the new A4 coming soon. Personally, the car looks best in Sport or M Sport line, not so in the Luxury line.
Driving experience is something you'd expect from a BMW, and boy does it not disappoint. From the time you set off to the time you arrive at your destination, the 320d really feels pretty much perfect. Steering feel is good compared to the A4, though between the 320d and the 316i itself, I did find the 320d had a better feel to it. On the M Sport 320d, the M steering wheel completes the whole car really. The paddle shifters are a nice touch too, and while the transmission is very smart, having the paddle shifters there is just nicer.
In terms of powertrain, the 320d didn't disappoint. Not only is it efficient on long distance runs, it is very responsive in town as well. There is no turbo lag (not noticeable) unlike other diesel cars, and it is very refined all the way to the top of the rev band. The Sport Auto in the M Sport also is a nice to have, and gives almost DSG like shifts without the low speed judder of a DSG. Not to mention, in terms of reliability, so far I have yet to have any issues.
Overall practicality and comfort is pretty good for the F30 I would say. The boot itself is large enough though the lack of split folding seats is something to consider. Honestly I have never used split folding seats in the sedans that I have had so this wasn't a deal breaker. There is reasonable amount of space and the glove box is a decent size. I wouldn't say the cabin is huge, but it is pretty class competitive compared to the A4.
Visibility wise, the F30 scores really well with good sized windows. While a reverse camera is an option, I honestly don't miss it one bit as the car itself is very easy to park and manoeuvre anyway. You do get parking sensors all around, which is really all you need.
The 3 series lineup actually does have pretty good value, especially with the 5 year warranty/5 year service which is not offered by any of the other German marques. Also considering dealer promotions, you can get a good deal indeed. I personally have not had any issue with dealing with my dealer (Wheelcorp/Ingress), though I have not had pleasant experiences in the larger ones.
Specifically on the 316i, the lack of power is noticeable. When you pull away and merge, you are reminded you bought the smaller engined 3 series. Not too big of an issue if you are coming from say a Jetta or Civic, but from another BMW product, yes, you can feel it. You need to rev the engine a bit to get moving. The steering and suspension too is very comfort biased on the 316i, giving it a bit of an odd feel.
Noise insulation is honestly subpar. In comparison to the rest of the BMW family like the 5 series, the 3 series feels quite noisy honestly. The diesel clatter too can be a bit odd.
Equipment wise, on the 320d there are 2 issues, one being no adaptive suspension on 320d M Sport compared to the 328i - a shame as for me the whole point of the M Sport is to have the adaptive suspension. There is no iDrive Pro with Nav unlike on the 328i as well, which is a weird oddity considering the price point. Understandable for the 316i since it is the base car, but for the 320d M Sport, not so.
The lack of lumbar support is also a bit of an issue in general, especially paired with the average seats in the 316i. In long drives, it can get a bit annoying.
There is another problem, the interior leader, the Merc C class exists. The C Class has a lot of showroom appeal with it's looks and interior, which feel like 2 classes above compared to the F30. While the C Class is forgettable in the driving department (slow transmission), the gap between the F30 and C class interior is a bit wide. The leather used is also really disappointing, but that is sadly now a norm for BMW.
Interior quality could be improved, with better fit and finish and better quality materials.
Suspension could be improved for rebound and noise insulation should be improved as well.
Also, probably introduce some new features like Blind Spot Assist and Adaptive Cruise as well, as this would set the F30 apart from it's peers.
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