|May 07, 2021 Follow us|
A cut above the rest
BMW’s 320i Edition 30 is one of three models commemorating the 30th anniversary of BMW New Zealand. Jack Yan drives the kitted-out Dreier
We already rate the F30 BMW 3-series, the latest incarnation of the Müncheners’ most popular car line. When we tested the 320d last year, we were impressed with the handling and stability of the car. With BMW celebrating its 30th anniversary in New Zealand, buyers would be offered something rather special: a 320i Edition 30, retailing for NZ$75,900.
On paper, this is exceptional value, with over NZ$12,000 worth of features over and above a standard 320i or 320d (which retail for NZ$74,300 and NZ$74,900 respectively). The list is comprehensive: bi-Xenon headlights including headlight washer system; adaptive headlights; high-beam assist; the business edition of BMW’s sat-nav; rear-view camera; the deletion of the model designation on the boot; fine brushed aluminium with high-gloss accent inside; sun-protection glazing; M Performance rear spoiler and high-gloss black kidney grille; the BMW Individual high-gloss shadow line; a head-up display; and 18-inch allows with the 398 style.
Since this is an equipment-upgrade special, the 320i on test at Lucire drove like any other. However, our experience of the 320i was limited to the Touring that we had tested during the launch—we had a more intimate knowledge of the 320d. While we had taken the 320i Touring through some of the best B-roads north of Auckland, we had a chance to put the 320i Edition 30 saloon through its paces in more familiar surroundings in Wellington.
And it’s as darn near perfect as you would expect. Diesel engines have come such a long way since the 1990s that we noticed no discernible difference in the driving experience. BMW’s official performance figures, such as the 0–100 km/h time, bear this out—there are only 0·2 s in it, favouring the 320i. The same flat cornering, the precise and responsive steering, and the stiffness of the body give reassurance to the spirited driver. However, at a more relaxed pace, the 320i’s Eco Pro mode helps with frugality as the Efficient Dynamics system gears itself to recapturing braking energy and adjusts the air conditioning to be more environmentally. The start–stop works just as efficiently here on the petrol model, with the eight-speed automatic gearbox.
We enjoyed our drive around Wellington’s B-roads hugely, finding the 320i not only an excellent handler, but one of the most relaxed drives in its segment.
Eco Pro netted us an extra 12 km, despite a mixture of spirited and relaxed driving, in urban and motorway settings, while we averaged a respectable 35 mpg Imperial (8 l/100 km), compared with the 43·9 mpg we achieved in the diesel in similar circumstances. Carbon dioxide emissions are a bit higher, at 144 g/km.
So if there’s not much in it, then those Edition 30 extras have to be pretty special.
And they are. We’re used to getting spoiled on test cars since BMW kits many of them out with a desirable specification, till you remember that they are not standard. The business sat-nav is enough for everyday use—do we really need buildings in central Wellington drawn, obscuring the actual streets?—while the rear-view camera is a useful tool to have for relatively little money. The rest depends on just how you perceive high-gloss black.
It is, therefore, subjective. Black detailing is very in vogue right now for cars, ever since the second half of the 2000s, though it fell out of favour in the 1980s and 1990s. If this appeals to your tastes, then the Edition 30 does work: the blacked-out kidney grille, for starters, and inside, the high-gloss black line above the glovebox and running nearly the full width of the dashboard. The black spoiler on the boot completes the effect. However, we weren’t that impressed with the blacked-out look on our white test car—we saw the same Edition 30 in red, and everything seems to gel so much better there.
The prize, really, is the ‘Edition 30’ badging on the front wings. In such a globalized era, editions peculiar to any one country are becoming fewer. (Anyone remember the Holden Commodore Royale?) There may be trim and suspension tuning differences, but an actual model, one that is offered in addition to the Dreier’s Sport, Luxury and Modern Lines, does not happen that often. For BMW to offer one for New Zealand buyers is a privilege, and those opting for Edition 30s—there’s also a version of the 116i given the same treatment—might find they have a 320i that friends abroad will never get their hands on. BMW 3ers, after all, aren’t exactly rare, so the more special it can come, the better.
We still can’t get over how much kit you get for the money, so we give the 320i a tick for rational reasons, too. However, a little bit of snob value can’t hurt—and it never does, when it comes to luxury German marques. •
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