The 1980s were a time of change at BMW. The company's first ever station wagon, the 3-Series Touring E30 appeared on the horizon. In that same period, the first all wheel drive option on a BMW debuted, by coincidence also on a 3-Series platform. Almost 30 years later, what was almost inconceivable for BMW purists some time ago happened to become a really great choice in the whole BMW line-up.
We are talking about a 3-Series, in Touring clothes, with a turbocharged four-cylinder oil burner under the hood and intelligent all wheel drive. If the Angel Eyes, the pork snout (OK, OK, “kidney grill”) and/or the Hofmeister kink weren't there, you'd pass this as any other car but a BMW to your neighbors.
We tested the facelift version of the E91 3-Series Touring, equipped with the latest version of the two-liter turbocharged diesel also known as the 320d and xDrive. All the 177 hp and 350 Nm (258.1 lb ft) of torque are directed towards every wheel in a 60:40 manner via a manual six-speed transmission.
Unlike the first all wheel drive BMW generations in the 1980s, this one transmits the power following a 60% rear and 40% front axle ratio, but that can change to 100:0 or even 0:100 depending on the road and driving conditions, and all this in a split second, even before the driver might even notice.
The engine found in our test car is an evolution of the first two-liter common rail diesel from BMW, and it now offers even more power than its normal aspirated gasoline counterpart. This usually happens at the expense of higher fuel consumption, but this is hardly our case.
Benefitting from the new BMW EfficientDynamics program, the diesel powerplant is now kind of like creating a hybrid between a Scottish and a Jewish fellow when it comes to economy. The Auto Start Stop switches off the engine everytime it idles too much at the stoplights, while the Brake Energy Regeneration uses the kinetic energy that would otherwise go to waste by converting it into electricity via the generator and storing it in the battery. Continue reading