We didn't expect it at first, but it's very hard to choose just one good thing about the 330d xDrive sedan. There's the extremely quick-acting all-wheel drive system, which doesn't quite make the car corner on rails but makes it much more controllable than an "oldschool" BMW, especially on roads with insufficient grip. The feeling you get by gripping the thick three-spoke sports steering wheel and changing from fourth to third on the twisties is immeasurable. Still, if we had to choose (and we do, actually) just one single truly great thing about this car is its engine. Since it's an inline-six, there's a natural balance and the vibrations expected from a diesel are pretty much history compared to others, while the sound it makes is nothing like any other oil-burner, sounding more like a mix between a gas turbine and a gasoline internal combustion engine. The fuel consumption is also not much higher than its four-cylinder little brothers, but its main feature has to be the extent of the rev range on which the maximum torque is felt. Unlike any other diesel we've experienced, the engine's momentum keeps pushing at max until 3000 rpm, which is stratospheric for an oil burner with a single turbocharger.
At least from the driver's point of view, there shouldn't be any downsides from a car with all-wheel drive, blistering acceleration figures, effortless torque numbers, low lag and a precise gearbox. Sadly, there are a few things which could get on someone's nerves. First, there's the amount of muscle power one has to have in order to operate the manual gearbox, especially when shifting into reverse, which is like a BMW trademark for hard work when driving. Then there's was the rather poor comfort when traveling on not-so-good roads, since the 18-inch alloy wheel with low-profile tires aren't very good partners with wafting over potholes or paved roads. Also, the low ground clearance is doing great things for the car's dynamic behavior but it sure doesn't help when trying to park the car over an optimistic kerb. Still, these are only two minor setbacks, since the worst thing about owning a model identical to our test car would be the complete absence of cup-holders. Sure, that might sound like a minor glitch for a BMW driver, but not all of us are driving against the clock all the time.
The ugly thing about our BMW 330d xDrive test car is probably its lack of user-friendliness. Not in the regular sense, but in the "driving with your family to the country side" sense. As we mentioned before, there are absolutely no interior spaces where to put your drink when cruising for a longer distance, the luggage compartment is a bit on the lower half of its class in terms of volume (only 460 liters, or 16.2 cu ft), while the passengers don't even have door storage spaces. All in all, if you can live without these not-so-terrible ergonomic downsides, the 330d xDrive is pretty close to being an all-rounder.Continue reading