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How much? £23,330
Engine: 1995cc 16v 4-cyl turbodiesel, 114bhp @ 4000rpm, 192lb ft @ 1750rpm
Transmission: Six-speed manual, rear-wheel drive
Performance: 10.9sec 0-62mph, 123mph, 62.8mpg, 118g/km
How heavy / made of? 1475kg/steel
How big (length/width/height in mm)? 4531/1817/1421
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Rated 3 out of 53


Rated 4 out of 54

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Readers' rating

Rated 3 out of 53

BMW 316d ES (2009) CAR review

By Glen Waddington

First Drives

27 November 2009 09:53

In the summer we tested BMW’s eco-diesel in the baby 1-series, and pretty good it was too. But what happens when you slip a mean-sounding 114bhp under the snout of the bigger 3-series? Is £35 annual tax sufficient recompense? And is the 316d really capable of 62.8mpg?

Okay, the economy thing first. How good is the new BMW 316d in real life?

Hands up, we didn’t crack that headline 62.8mpg figure. In a week of mixed driving – commuting the slow way, commuting the quicker way, a bit of round-town pottering and a 300-mile motorway journey – we managed 50.3mpg. I confess I was hoping for more, but let’s get some perspective. I got 43mpg after a similar week in a Vauxhall Insignia 2.0CDTi, not quite 40mpg in a Merc E220CDI, and 49mpg in the identically engined BMW 116d. In fact, the 316d matched exactly the VW Polo 1.6TDI I ran a couple of months ago. And that can’t be bad for a family saloon.

Is the 316d really just a 1.6?

No, of course it isn’t. As is often the case with today’s Beemers, that badge on the back tells a fib. This one shares its 2.0-litre block with the 318d and the 320d. It’s simply been tweaked towards economy rather than outright power, and it’s accompanied by BMW’s sensible start/stop and brake energy regen eco measures.

Sure, you miss out on the thwack of the 320d, but 192lb ft is pretty healthy and the piddly-sounding 114bhp doesn’t feel as denuded as you might expect.

Strangely, there's an even greener Three: the 320d Efficient Dynamics has lowered suspension, a dual-mass flywheel and a full-fat 161bhp and 265lb ft – yet it manages 109g/km and a claimed 68.9mpg. The drawback? It costs £26,680. The 316d, as the badge suggests, is your budget option.

Just how slow is it, then?

It doesn’t feel slow at all because there’s sufficient low-rev diesel punch; it’s just less visceral here than in its bigger brothers. Overtaking can take a little planning because you can’t simply rely on a huge wedge of torque, and it’s run out of steam by 4000rpm, but cruising is comfortable and relaxed. The gearing is ultra-high though – try an indicated 40mph per 1000rpm in top. That means you’ll sometimes find yourself slotting back to fifth and even fourth if you need to regain speed rapidly on the motorway.

Still, it’s an easygoing, likeable drive, but with a character that both encourages and benefits smoothness rather than outright hooliganism.

How about the rest of the new BMW 316d?

It’s the usual deal: distinctive inside and out with a slick finish to match. The start/stop thing works unobtrusively and there’s reasonable standard equipment: alloys, air-con, CD and electric windows are the highlights.

Dynamically it’s as good as ever, with quick, accurate steering, brilliant poise and a mostly supple ride: no other eco-car is this much fun. The 316d isn't fault-free, though. Road noise can intrude on some surfaces, and there’s more wind noise here than in an Audi A4 or a Merc C-class. And the Three is beginning to date, despite last year’s facelift: it’s just too familiar now, even if it looks more interesting than an A4.


When we heard about the economy special 3-series in the office, we all though: ‘Great, a Three for less than £20k!’ How wrong we were. The 316d is really a fleet special, offering a cheap tax disc and an attractive BIK income tax proposition, as well as the promise of good fuel economy. But you won’t feel short-changed as you ply the nation’s highways.


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BMW 316d ES (2009) CAR review


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JohnboyMac says

RE: BMW 316d ES (2009) CAR review

A real world 50mpg. I can sure understand people opting for this BMW. 

06 December 2009 17:17



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nicebiscuit says

RE: BMW 316d ES (2009) CAR review

I like the idea of this, and am tempted - but wish I could get the build and engineering in something front-drive and space efficient.   Basically I want a nicely made and styled Focus.   Shame that BMW have painted themselves into this rear-drive saloon corner.   Imagine a small BMW hatch with Mini running gear...

I can see the point of rear wheel drive on the sportier models, but not at the economy end of the market.   Surely there's an opportunity for someone to build something like an Audi (but not rubbish...)


30 November 2009 20:00



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Brand0 says

RE: BMW 316d ES (2009) CAR review

WITTGENFROG - In you I have almost found my 'negative'.  My love for BMW is matched by your hatred of the marque.  But whereas my love evolved from the seed of my dad owning several and walking away from one (along with the rest of my family of 5)  when I was a not-so-wee boy in a high-speed accident which cracked both front alloys through the middle, I don't know why you hate BMW so?  Care to enlighten me? 


Bottome line is that, as the author aluded to, there is no other car that can compete with this right now if frugality must be delivered by a premium brand and accompanied with the fun factor.  Whatever you suppose to ba a better alternative for those looking for this kind of car (and just because you don't see a need doesn't mean it cannot exist), it will be a lesser car.  This is best in class - you should be having ago at the class, not the star student, but then when the red mist descends, all sense is lost in the fog of hatred.  Don't give in to you hate - it will lead you to the dark side.....

30 November 2009 13:36



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jer says

RE: BMW 316d ES (2009) CAR review

Farmax: wow £18,830 (less 4.5k)  a 20% discount, if only BM would discount so much on the the interesting motors.

30 November 2009 07:21



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kkirkou says

RE: BMW 316d ES (2009) CAR review

Impressive numbers as stated in the article and from the fellas bellow. It outrages me that this car is practically punished in Greece because a) it's a diesel b) it has a 2 litre engine displacement (and therefore is considered "big"). I doubt if any Prious, that is promoted from the taxing system here, can manage these numbers. Let alone driving involment and enjoyment.... No real hopes from the new socialdemocrat Greek regime, then...    

30 November 2009 06:25

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