For those of us that live in the U.S., the BMW diesel choices are limited at this time, with the 335d and X5d being the only models available for us. While we hope that in the near future we will see more diesel engines here and implicitly giving us the opportunity to test drive them, for now we will just have to rely on our European friends to provide some reviews of diesel powered BMWs available there.
Obviously, the 330d, even in xDrive form, lacks some of the spirit of the 330i, and we’re talking mainly about the gas-powered model’s ability to rev through the roof to give its occupants a glimpse of the real driving pleasure, as the BMW purists might say. The three-liter diesel on the other hand totally makes up for that with its gargantuan torque which is felt at almost any speed, in any gear.
While cruising on a small stretch of empty road at about 1900 rpm we “opened her up” a little bit and in of just a few seconds we went from doing 130 km/h (81 mph) to almost 180 km/h (112 mph). And all that while being in sixth gear! Our photographer was most impressed with this fact from the passenger seat, but then again he drives a 1.6-liter diesel, so he should be pretty easy to please from this point of view.
In almost any diesel, modern or oldschool, the low range punch usually prevails over any other speed-inducing sensation. The sequential turbocharger setup of the highly-touted three-liter diesel found in some BMWs changed that. Our test car wasn’t equipped with that engine, but with a new one, which in theory should be positioned lower on the “sportiness scale”, since it’s “only” a single-turbo.
Turns out it isn’t (Ed, positioned lower). Although it has almost 40 hp, 60 Nm (44.2 lb ft) and a turbocharger less than its big brother, our test car is actually faster to 100 km/h (62 mph) than the 335d. To put things into a bigger perspective, the 330d xDrive is faster than the first generation M3 to 100 km/h by almost a full second. Talk about efficient torque distribution! This engine is all about low-range AND mid-range punch, unlike other oil burners, which brings it very close to a turbocharged gasoline counterpart.
Plus, compared to “that other, real type” of combustion, the 330d takes much less effort to run at the same speed and on the same road. It still has that laid-back attitude of your everyday diesel – hence the very frugal fuel economy – but it can also provide neck-snapping acceleration in almost any gear thanks to its massive 520 Nm (383.5 lb ft) torque figure, strangely available from 1750 to 3000 rpm.