About four months after we drove our first example of the facelifted BMW 3-Series, in a four-cylinder, all-wheel-drive and Touring trim, the time has now come to experiment another member of the BMW 3 family. Don't get your hopes up, we haven't (yet) gotten our hands on an M3, but from some points of view we kind of got the third best thing.
Comparing an oil-burner with pretty much the epitome of track-ready sedans could be considered a blasphemy by some, and it probably is, but the 330d sedan in xDrive guise is a special kind of diesel. Sure, it poops all over the BMW "rear-wheel drive, howling straight sixes that run on gasoline" legacy, but as far as performance specs go, this is still a tough cookie.
Apart from a mild revamping of the exterior design, the 3-Series facelift also brought some changes in the engine department. The 330d is one of those changes, and that is exactly the model which we got to drive, equipped with the oh-so-intelligent xDrive all-wheel-drive system. Keeping with the BMW way of building six-cylinder engines, the new mill is also using the "inline" architecture, known to have the best natural balance of all engines, along with the V12 and its derivates.
With a maximum torque figure of an Earth-moving 520 Nm (383.5 lb ft), available from 1750 all the way to 3000 rpm and in manual transmission guise, the 330d xDrive can make the back of your head really put those headrests to the test everytime you stomp on the throttle with too much optimism. All that and it can comfortably cruise at highly illegal speeds while using only a pint of diesel fuel.
We must excuse ourselves if we sound a bit too ecstatic, considering we're still talking about an engine which uses the same fuel as a tractor, but if that's the case then this is one potent piece of farming equipment. The xDrive all-wheel-system takes care of pretty much everything that the electronic stability control doesn't, while keeping much of the car's handling capabilities even in low-grip conditions. All in all, this is almost an all-rounder in the premium sedan segment, but some pretty evident shortcomings still keep it from being an absolute no-brainer. Continue reading