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Driven: BMW 320d Efficient Dynamics

2011-04-01 14:50

ON THE CHEAP: Average fuel consumption on the 320d Efficienct Dynamics is down from 5.4 to 4.7 litres per 100km.

Vehicle Specs
Manufacturer BMW
Model 3 Series
Engine 1995 cm3 four-cylinder turbodiesel
Power 135 kW @ 4000 rpm
Torque 380 Nm from 1900-2750 rpm
Transmission six-speed manual; six-speed automatic
Zero To Hundred 7.5 sec (M); 7.6 sec (A)
Top Speed 235 kph (M); 233 kph (A)
Fuel Tank 61l
Fuel Consumption 4.7 litres per 100 km (M); 5.3 litres per 100km (A)


It may seem like the entire world is in a state of green, but BMW’s been at it for a while, the company highlighted at a recent introduction of the 320d Efficient Dynamics in South Africa.

First off, there’s nothing especially extraordinary about this 320d. It employs BMW Efficient Dynamics tactics that have been in play for some time already and its energy-saving exploits are not wholly foreign to local drivers. The changes to the local 3 Series range were first announced in November 2010.

It is perhaps significant because the 320d Efficient Dynamics has been shortlisted for the 2011 World Green Car of the Year award. However, hot new toys are the usual fare when model series’ are on runout, signalling the imminent arrival of the new model. Not so for BMW South Africa, who sent us on our way for a pleasant tootle in its 4.7 litre per 100km star.

Adding to the efficacy of Efficient Dynamics, the four-cylinder 320d uses a gearshift indicator (on manual models only, to encourage more economical short-shifting), brake energy regeneration (where energy usually released as heat is recycled to ease the load on the alternator) and map-controlled fuel and water pumps.

So we pushed off from the Club Motors Fountains dealership in Pretoria – aptly the first “green” BMW shop in South Africa. Here, since the operation switched buildings towards the end of 2010, power saving and energy efficiency are a way of life. Dealer principal Alwyn du Toit even pointed out the neat carpets, made from a combination of recycled plastic and paper, and the bamboo flooring in the showroom areas, sourced from fast-growing and renewable bamboo.


From the dealership we headed out on a winding route out of town across the Hartebeespoort Dam, skirting the North-West Province before heading back to Gauteng and BMW’s Rosslyn facility to the east of Pretoria.

This facility is where BMW SA builds E90 – that’s current 3 Series sedans – for both the local and export markets. Incidentally, about 50 percent of cars here is produced are shipped to the US. The plant is currently retooling in preparation for the next-generation 3 Series, which goes into full-scale production at Rosslyn from early 2012.

But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. The current 320d bearing the Efficient Dynamics tag delivers 135kW at 4000 rpm and 380 Nm from 1900 – 2750 rpm, unchanged from the previous model. What is new, though, is the drop in fuel consumption and CO2 emissions: the average fuel consumption is down from 5.4 litres per 100km to 4.7 litres per 100km, while CO2 emissions are reduced from 140g/km to 125g/km, just 5g/km clear of the South African emissions tax cut-off.

NOT SO NEW: The Efficient Dynamics programme was rolled out to most 3 Series models late in 2010, and has been a feature on certain six-cylinders since 2005.

This means that while the 320d certainly is more efficient, it’s unlikely you’d be able to tell from the cabin since its generous lashing of torque remains freely available. The gearshift indicator for the six-speed manual transmission is clearly visible in the driver’s central display in the instrument panel, although, should you choose too, it’s equally easy to ignore.

Top speed for both the manual and six-speed automatic models clear the 230-km/h mark, while sprint times from 0 – 100 km/h are 7.5 and 7.6 seconds, respectively.

There are, of course, other models in the 3 Series range that have benefitted from Efficient Dynamics principles. Most six-cylinder models have applied Efficient Dynamics since their launch in 2005, but the recent expansion to four-cylinder models ensures most of the 3 Series range (barring the 330d and 335i) is now more efficient than before.


It was a little unusual to be whisking about in the more frugal Three – and nothing else – but BMW’s focus on producing performance-biased vehicles did not go unnoticed as the 320d, with its low rolling-resistance tyres and other add-ons, was as entertaining to drive as ever.

And enthusiasts can look forward to bigger strides towards more efficient cars when the next 3 Series debuts on our roads later in 2012. The company already confirmed at this event that the production version of the hybrid 5 Series concept shown at the Geneva Auto Show earlier in 2011 will be making its way to South Africa in the not-too-distant future.

Government’s recent announcement that cleaner fuels in South Africa could be a reality from as early as 2013, would also mean that many of the more modern, more efficient engines that have so far been denied to South Africans, purely based on our rubbish fuels, may slowly start making their way south.

320d manual  -  R372 500
320d automatic  -  R389 100

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