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Suzuki’s new Swift hatch and sedan in SA

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Reader test: BMW 330Ci

2009-10-05 07:55

Isa Conning

My car is a 2001 BMW 330Ci … and I absolutely love it!

It just has all the bases covered so well. At R160 000, I really cannot think of better value for money, and that’s not because I am an unapologetic BMW fan. It is just a fact, as I see it...

In terms of performance, with 170 kW on tap and 300 Nm of torque, it certainly is not all show and no go.

The sedan was tested back in 2001 by a well-known motoring publication and with the five-speed gearbox, managed to get from 0 to 100km/h in around 6.5 seconds. Obviously the drop top would be a little slower as a result of the extra weight, but they are close, and under seven seconds to 100 is a pretty respectable acceleration figure, even by modern standards.

As far as economy is concerned, it is really not bad. Look, it is a 3.0-litre so I will not pretend it gives me similar litres per hundred km as a Corsa Lite. But again, when compared with similar models from other manufacturers, it comes out on top. Besides, when buying a car like this, one isn’t exactly interested in things like fuel consumption.

The competition

To put it better in perspective, the same magazine's tests of the GTI 5 showed a 0-100 time of 7.67 seconds; Focus ST, 7.5 seconds; Opel Astra OPC, 7.05 seconds and so on. So the 330CI is right up there with the latest hot hatches, despite being eight years old.

And besides the above mentioned, in typical BMW fashion, pound for pound, it is head and shoulders above its equivalent competitors, being Audi and Merc.

If one compares the 3.0-litre plants of either of these two from 2001, they don’t come close. In fact it is only the latest C-Class, the C280 (which is actually a 3.0-litre) which pushes out 170kW, while the latest 3.0-litre, naturally aspirated BMW has moved so far ahead, it is now sitting at around 200kW.

Then there is the drop top factor, which is just “too cool”. Again, even after eight or nine years of being around, they still turn heads. It is one sexy looking car! But the head spinning is not what makes it enjoyable. Rather, it is the pleasure of driving a drop top, combined with all that makes BMW special, being cars that are so driver oriented, one wonders why people with a passion for driving would choose any other make.

And if all that isn’t enough, it also doubles as a snazzy bakkie when you’re really desperate.

All bases covered

Sure there are many drop tops, but few combine the look, the go, the driving pleasure, the handling and the overall feel of a BMW drop.

As far as creature comforts and safety features are concerned, of course it has all the bases covered too, right up there with the best of the best.

I also own a 2006 E90 BMW 330i sedan, but choose the E46 drop top over it any day. The fun factor is just so much higher. With the drop top, every journey is an adventure.

I know I must sound terrible gushy about BMW, but my daddy has no shares in the company. It is just that when you compare them with their closest competitors, they repeatedly come out on top, from performance to handling, to the fun factor.

Beemer for life!

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