2012 BMW 330d Touring with M-Sport Package – Test Drive

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BMW 330d Touring Test Drive The F30/F31 is the sixth-generation of the 3-Series and there have already been several iterations of a 3.0 liter diesel …

BMW 330d Touring Test Drive

The F30/F31 is the sixth-generation of the 3-Series and there have already been several iterations of a 3.0 liter diesel unit for this very successful model. So it’s time we had a closer look at the latest one, currently the most powerful diesel on offer in the 3-Series, in the BMW 330d Touring.

The BMW 330d Touring features the aluminum N57 3.0 liter diesel unit with an output of 258 hp and a hefty 560 Nm of torque (410 lb-ft) and good for an impressive fuel-economy rating of 5.1 liters/100 km (46 mpg) when placed in the engine bay of this rear-wheel drive 3-Series Touring. Realistically, you can actually achieve that if you drive continuously in Eco Pro mode (and turn on the stop-start system), one of the four drive modes available here. But with this much power on tap, it’s hard to resist the temptation to get a slightly to not-so-slightly higher rating than that. For the week I drove the car average consumption was a very respectable 7.4 liters/100 km and that was with a very carefree attitude. But at the push of a button you can turn the N47 unit into a slow-sipping diesel that delivers 2.0 liter-like diesel economy with 3.0 liter-like diesel power levels.

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Now, you’re going to need those four drive modes to provide you with the flexibility for different driving conditions that get the most out of the car. The four drive modes are well tuned to their tasks – Eco Pro, Comfort, Sport and Sport + (which limits the ESP). Driving in the city, Eco Pro or Comfort do the trick, the throttle does feel a little leaden but you’re full torque comes online at just 1,500 rpm so darting over a tram track or pulling away quickly from a stop light is still effortless. You can save the Sport mode for the more adventurous driving.

The Drive

I first took the BMW 330d Touring through the city to test out the stop-start function and see if I could get used to one, which I’ll admit, I have never been able to. They tend to feel clunky and that jumpy delay between easing off the brake and and stepping on accelerator always felt a nuisance to me. But the system here is as quick as they come and I had no trouble leaving it on for the entire time I had the car. The heads up display also came in handy in helping me watch my speed in camera-plagued Zurich. In town, the car feels supremely comfortable and the park-assist system makes getting in and out of those tight spots quick and easy.

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But take the 330d on the road and this low-slung tourer starts to rival many sport models with its 19-inch wheels (part of the M-Sport package) providing the kind of grip that chews asphalt like Al Pacino does scenery. The handling is BMW perfect, the steering sharp and responsive. In Sport mode, the whole car tightens up, and not just the gear shifts – the suspension gets taught too – making for a very solid ride that tempts one to wonder what the 335d (or the 340d as it may come to be called) will be like. The ZF 8-speed gearbox, with seamless shifts that register only in the tachometer, provides plenty of play potential in manual mode but wins your confidence to let it make all the decisions for you in automatic. Hey, it’s sports tourer, so feel free to relax and enjoy the landscape rolling by.

On the Inside

Sitting in the cockpit of this F31 3-Series feels cozy, if a little cavernous, but deceptively so as it provides more interior space than its predecessor the E91. The sensuous Alcantara upholstery was a warmer, welcomed alternative to leather and the rest of the finish was superb, with aluminum touches in BMW’s usual subtle aesthetic for the dash. Buttons are easy to access, performing functions that were useful and clear in their purpose. You can turn off the stop-start system with a simple click of the button right above the larger starter one and the drive mode selection is on the driver side next to the gear shift. There was nothing superfluous here.

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And the extra cabin space is welcomed here as this new 3-Series Touring can now properly own the Touring name. Its 495 liters of trunk space is plenty for a weekend getaway (if you are thinking in American terms) but here in Europe packing this baby up for a two-week trip through, say, Italy, would mean a dream holiday. With the rear split seats you can put two kids on the rear bench and still have enough room for a decent lot of luggage. With the rear seats completely down, volume is 1,500 liters.

The M-Sport Package

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As Sven, the friendly young gentleman from BMW Group Switzerland who provided us with the 330d, explained to me, the Swiss press department get to configure their own cars, so they like to load them up with goodies such as the 19-inch rims and the M-Sport package. On the inside the package includes the M-leather steering wheel, with paddle shifters, wrapped in soft Nappa leather, the M doors sills and the fabric-Alcantara upholstery. For the exterior, the package provides front and rear bumpers, a rear diffuser with a double exhaust as well as those 19-inch wheels. The M-Sport brake calipers in Estoril Blue II were not standard with the package, though, but an extra. The M-Sport suspension also lowers the car by 10 mm over the standard model and comes with stiffer spring and damper settings and tougher stabilizers which provided that road munching capability.

Final Thoughts

  • The 3.0 liter diesel power plant that takes this 3er from 0 to 100 km/h in about 6.0 seconds, is the star of the show. It’s quiet and powerful without being overly aggressive and is what makes this sports tourer a benchmark for its class.
  • The car certainly delivers on its promise – a stealth cruiser with serious sport tourer abilities. This BMW Touring takes the compact Kombi battle to new level, especially with this diesel unit, and makes it hard to see when the continued growth in the market share of diesels will end.

Our thanks to BMW Group Switzerland for providing this test vehicle.

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