Admit it, it’s an oil-burner in a sports jacket … why fool yourself?
Who said diesels can’t be nippy? You’ve not noticed a diesel’s won Le Mans? This 330d is an unashamedly rapid thing. With 231bhp it’s got more than enough whip in its tail - but it’s the huge amount of torque available that makes it so quick. Point-to-point across country, this baby can hustle… just as quick as the petrol 330 I’d wager, even though the 'd' cedes 41bhp.
Look at the numbers. The 330d’s 3.0-litre, six cylinder turbo creates 369lb ft at just 1750rpm, which is 133lb ft better than the more revvy petrol 330i. It’s only 15lb ft less than the M5! In the real world, that’s a great advantage.
What’s it like to drive?
The chunky torque works very well with the auto box. You can either cruise on Planet Relaxo, allowing the torque to waft you along, barely troubling the right-hand side of the rev counter. Or you can hustle, using the box’s kickdown. As with most Beemers, there’s a sporting cut to its trouser, with direct steering and taught handling. It’s highly chuckable. There’s a semi-auto mode too, where you can shift up or down manually if you really want to play. The stats say it gets to 60 in 6.8 seconds, and 50-75mph in five seconds. This is a diesel we’re talking about, remember…
What’s it like to own then?
As with any BMW you can option it to the hilt, but extras don’t come cheap. The car we drove had leather (£995), xenon headlights (£430), six-speed auto 'box (£1,635, highly popular on 330ds, apparently), Bluetooth phone kit (£535) and sun protection glass (£195). The xenons are incredible - if you do lots of night driving they are worth every penny. They project a beam far further down the road than standard lamps. And there’s an iPod jack as standard. The M-kit, complete with 18-inch wheels, low-profile tyres, bodykit and a more aggressive stance makes the 3-series shape a lot easier on the eye, too. All in all it’s a nice place to hang out in. The interior pictured is from a 335i M-Sport, but it's the same as the 330d M-Sport.
Anything you don’t like?
It’s not a 335d. For around £3k extra, it’s got to be worth a look, and with the extra we notched up on options it’s well within range. But the extras bill will hit the residual value, and those chunky tyres are expensive. One thing which is utterly pointless is BMW's starter button - you still need to put the weird key-that’s-not-a-key thing in to make it work, then push the button. Why? And for 36 grands-worth of car, they should give you a decent bloody stereo.
The 330d M-Sport is a great car for anyone who wants something that’s fast and good-looking but needs four doors and a decent boot - people with young families, execs who travel a lot with colleagues or drivers who like their cars fast but anonymous. You’ll love the grunt and (relative) fuel economy … but like the Boxster owner who really wants the 911, you’ll lust after the 335d. It'll be even better though when it gets BMW's EfficientDynamics eco technology.