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Reader test: BMW 330d

2009-08-20 12:59

Brendon Brown

Around two years ago, my wife and I were in the market for a slightly new car.  

I have to admit that the hunt is exhilarating, but it can also be tedious. Especially after hunting through various publications to find the right deal and travelling huge distances on the word of a seller only to be completely disappointed when laying eyes on what I'd been told was “immaculate”.  

Yet, that’s part of what makes it so much fun; the possibility of finding something special. My particular experience was time consuming and frustrating, yet worth it in every way.  

My wife and I drew up the criteria that the car had to meet. It had to be under R150 000, for us to afford the repayments.

It had to be extremely frugal, as we do a lot of long trips down to the coast, and it had to be under warranty.

It had to meet my “king theory”, which is a term I coined while I was ogling hot cars. It is the way a car makes you feel when you are driving it. A car doesn’t have to be a great looker or a brilliant performer, but it can still make you feel like a king when driving it.

So, it boiled down to two choices – a newer, under-powered, ugly little commuter like a Citroen C2 or a Toyota Yaris that, let's face it, if you love cars and driving them, just wasn't an option…

Rewards aplenty

Or a slightly older german saloon. We settled on a 2002 BMW 330d.  And WOW, have we been rewarded for our choice! It’s been a fantastic car.

Let's make a quick comparison between the two choices. Power output on a Citroen C2 1.4 is 55 kW and it has 118 Nm of torque. Up here on the Highveld, we lose between 10 and 15% of the power on a normally aspirated motor, so we actually have around 48kw to work with. I think I generate more power when I flatulate.  

Then there is the BMW 330d. 149kw and 410Nm torque. That is three times more powerful than the Citroen. Rand for Rand spent, you can’t ask for much better performance, and the BMW's legendary fuel efficiency (we get between 13 and 15 km/l, or around 7 l/100 km), the Citroen just couldn’t compare.  

And don’t forget that thanks to the turbo on the BMW, you actually have the full power available at a tap of the throttle, no matter what your altitude is. Just to put it in perspective, if you chip the BMW 330d (which we did), you can tune it without any further mods to put out around 160 kW and 500 Nm of torque. That’s the same torque as a 2008 BMW M5!  

Lastly, it was down to the "king theory". The BMW 330d has it and the Citroen doesn’t. It’s just that simple. Driving a BMW that performs this well, is light on juice, looks great, is built like a tank and was still under warranty would make anyone feel like a king!

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