Sporty, high-tech, diesel-powered coupes are the ‘in’ cars amongst Europe’s young executives. And savvy car companies know if you impress a young driver, it’s easier to entice them to stick with the brand.
So - the theory goes - today’s BMW 320d Coupe driver will become a 7-Series sedan or X5 SUV driver in future life stages.
Where the 320d Coupe surprises is the abundant rear seat and luggage room – making this stylish coupe practical even for family buyers.
BMW 320d Coupe Overview
Stickered at $65,500, the turbo-diesel powered BMW 320d Coupe is the entry-level model of the well-credentialed 3-Series Coupe lineup. Just to clarify: ‘entry-level’ in ‘BMW-Speak’ includes leather seats, climate control air-conditioning, a wonderfully balanced chassis, supreme build quality and that hallmark BMW style.
There’s lots of technology as you’d expect, but the BMW 320d Coupe misses out on satellite navigation and the up-market six-CD audio system of the 325i, 330d and 335i models.
BMW 320d Coupe Engine
As part of some running changes introduced earlier this year, BMW introduced a new six-speed manual transmission for the 320d Coupe, including BMW EfficientDynamics technologies - Auto Start/Stop and the Optimum Shift gear-change indicator. Power and torque also improved – up to 135kW at 4,000rpm and 380Nm from 1,900rpm.
Performance is impressive – in fact this common rail, direct injection turbo-diesel sprints from zero to 100km/h in just 7.5 seconds. That’s faster than the rival Alfa Romeo GT’s 2.0-litre petrol engine (8.7 seconds) and only marginally slower than Alfa’s 3.2-litre V6 petrol (6.9 seconds).
BMW says the 320d Coupe returns combined cycle fuel consumption of 4.7l/100kms and exhaust C02 emissions are rated at 125g/km.
These cars are ‘everyday drives’ throughout Germany and most of Europe so the 320d is tractable, refined and impressively responsive throughout the rev range. Peak hour traffic is a drag whether you’re in Melbourne or Munich and BMW’s new six-speed manual is slick and light to operate.
BMW 320d Coupe The Interior
Let’s start out back – the BMW 320d Coupe is a two-door, but those clever designers and engineers have delivered a car with space and convenience for a family of four. The electronic folding front seats provide ready access to a rear seat which has real legroom (as endorsed by our friends and children during the week the BMW 320d Coupe graced the Car Showroom garage).
The rear seat split-folds 60/40 and the BMW 320d Coupe presents an enormous boot with a wide opening – easily accounting for our stroller and full-size golf bag.
Up front, it’s the usual modern execution of the traditional BMW stylish/conservative dashboard with hallmark two round dials and orange lighting. Even though it’s the entry model, the BMW 320d Coupe is beautifully finished inside with Dakota leather and black high-gloss trim finishing.
The three-spoke leather-trimmed steering wheel adjusts for rake and reach and while the front seats have a combination electric/manual adjustment – well BMW is all about cars for drivers, so the driving position even in this entry-level model is top-shelf. And the front seats are the usual, nicely sculptured and supportive BMW design.
Audio is a CD/MP3 system with auxiliary input. Bluetooth mobile telephone is enabled.
BMW 320d Coupe Exterior & Styling
In our opinion, the designers at BMW, and their arch rivals at Mercedes-Benz, have no peers in the automotive industry when it comes to delivering core vehicles (3-Series and C-Class) which still appear modern, stylish and up-market even when at mid-life in their model cycles. Perfect example is the BMW 320d Coupe – still good-looking and eye-catchingly elegant.
You get the hallmark BMW long bonnet, the sporty short overhangs and beautifully crafted coupe rear three quarters – all magnificently proportioned in the usual BMW way.
At the front, the most recent changes for the BMW 320d Coupe saw a wider, bolder execution of the famous ‘kidney’ front grille, bi-xenon headlights with four rings for daytime running lights, wider air intakes, a more pronounced front splitter and some extra chrome. For the rear, BMW introduced an extra fold (or ‘character line’) intended to portray some extra width for the 320d’s rear end and also tossed-in new-design L-shaped taillights.
New-design 17-inch ‘Starspoke’ alloy wheels also identify the current model BMW 320d Coupe.
BMW 320d Coupe On The Road
The BMW 320d may be the entry-level to the 3-Series Coupe range, but underneath is the same wonderful chassis (double joint spring-strut front/five-link independent rear), which has been universally praised by just about all the critics. After all, this vehicle is a huge seller in Europe so it stands to reason, BMW would deliver the high standard, engaging driving dynamics which underscore its brand.
The 135kW/380Nm, four-cylinder turbo-diesel is actually quite well matched to the chassis and is not overwhelmed by the 1445kgs kerb weight. And even though it’s a diesel, the BMW 320d sounds sporty as it works up or down the gears.
And because it’s a BMW, the BMW 320d Coupe drives sporty with firm spring and damper settings keeping things taught and body roll to a minimum. We’ve driven a lot of these latest high performance European diesels and the BMW 320d Coupe is predictably one of the best with brilliant turn-in, exceptional balance and real poise over our challenging mountain roads test loop (where you wouldn’t expect a diesel to excel).
We anticipated the combination of 135kW/380Nm and a six-speed manual transmission would be heavy, clunky and cumbersome in the daily commute and around town, but the BMW 320d Coupe was absolutely the opposite – light, slick and easy to operate in the stop-start peak hour drudge and easy to park (rear park distance control is standard).
BMW 320d Coupe Challenges
We can’t understand why, but storage bins and hold-alls are scarce inside the BMW 320d – strange because this specification BMW is popular with commercial leasing companies in Britain and throughout Europe. Sure there are clever folding door pockets, but things like recesses to hold you mobile telephone, house keys etc are short in number.
BMW 320d Coupe The Competition
Gets tricky in this tiny sub-segment. On the one hand is Audi’s A5 which starts at $67,300 for the 2.0-litre TFSI petrol turbo, but you’ll need $90,050 for 2.0 diesel. Alfa Romeo’s GT looks the business and is competitively priced but don’t bother looking for a diesel.