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Reader test: BMW 320d Touring

2007-10-29 08:14

James Millar, Cape Town

Sixteen grand for 2 small windows? That's how much more a BMW 320d Touring (or station wagon to those born before 1990) is than its sedan stablemate.

I've been driving the more expensive car for a few days now and am seriously beginning to believe it's worth the extra dosh. I mean, it's more practical for a start being able to take all sorts of "lifestyle" loads and not just the boring two sets of golf clubs.

Which brings me to another point; how did the station wagon become cooler than the sedan...? Because it is!

Sleeker, better proportioned

Unbelievable to everyone born before 1990 too, is the fact that station wagons are now far better looking than their sedan siblings.

Sedans are for old people who only use the car to drive to golf, meet up with other old people and wash every Sunday. Station wagons are used for stashing sporty young stuff like surfboards, mountain bikes and sex toys.

Gone are the days of two rectangles were stuck together on a truck chassis and called a practical family car. The touring is sleeker and far better proportioned than the slightly awkward and bland sedan. (It's also based on exactly the same mechanicals as the sedan, but more on that later.)

So, in that vein, I reckon that the 3 Series Touring is the most attractive Beemer available on the market today. That's not saying much, I know.

The 1 Series has been called a "bread van", the 7 is just a big bloated heffalump of a mistake, the 5 looks too slab-sided, the 6 Series starts off interesting at the front and then loses it all with a J Lo-sized ass, the Z4's sharp lines don't even link up properly and the SUVs are offensively Asian-like. In fact, even Korean SUVs are better looking now (see the new Hyundai Sante-Fe).

Like a car

But, the 3 Series Touring also drives like a 3 Series sedan, which is good, very good. One can find the perfect seating position easily and then the car's dynamics are very predictable with tactile steering and no dead spots.

A touring car driver (as in the racing driver who drives touring cars not BMW 320 Touring wagons?) may find it even better than the sedan. Since there is a tad more weight toward the rear, the car should tuck-in tighter to corner although one will never find that out on public roads.

The diesel engine is a little grumbly at low speed, but picks up brilliantly on faster roads.

The ride is okay with the stiff sidewalls of the run flats making it a little clunky at low speed over manhole covers and potholes, but it's not nearly as bad as an Audi... However, its overtaking torque and the inherent economy of the diesel engine make it a fantastic cruiser.

This car's seats are also comfy and the cabin is well put together, ergonomically sound and dull. Its interior is awash with black, aluminium and more black trim and a couple of tiny "sexy blue lights to show how much fun we Germans are".

It may not appeal to everyone, but so what? It works and you'll be having too much fun enjoying corners flat out whilst giving two fingers to doddering sedan drivers with bad backs to care.

Oh yes, and if you buy one you'll even be reasonably down (that means respected or accepted, dad) with the eco freaks because it?s a diesel - so it's more economical and CO2-friendly than the petrols and its got a big boot for carrying trees and recycling. And it's not an SUV.

The 320d Touring is the Jason Bourne of cars - efficient, talented, sexy, it looks good with a little blood and dirt on the outside, and it likes action sports and beating up the opposition... which it does fairly easily.

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