2017 BMW 320i Sport Line
Upon seeing the 2017 Melbourne Red BMW 320i sedan, the first word that came to mind was 'aggressive'. Its slimmer headlights and front facia are joined to a broader and bolder kidney grille compared to those of previous generations.
The rear of the car has also evolved with full LED rear lights complemented by twin black chrome tail pipes from the exhaust. The subtle body accents on this model are not as sleek or fast-looking as the sportier M models, but they still do the new design justice.
Upon entering the car, one is greeted by a beefy black leather steering wheel stitched in red. The black leather-covered dashboard and door cards and seats are accented with a bold, red horizontal border running through the dash's centre and stopping at the back seats.
The semi-supportive powered leather seats complement the sporty interior, giving comfort and stability to the driver's torso. Seating in the front is roomy, while rear-seat space is a little tight for taller passengers.
The 6'5" control display shows entertainment options, rear-view camera, drive train selections, and reacts to almost every button pressed, with the exception of the gear changes, which are displayed in the gauge cluster.
It has a single USB port, single auxiliary port, and Bluetooth connectivity supporting Apple and Android phones. All sounds are delivered to passengers through a six-speaker audio system. The sound is as full and dynamic as expected in a vehicle of this calibre, with good mid to high range, and moderate low range.
DYNAMIC 7-SPEED TRANSMISSION
Depending on the journey, the driver has several drive-mode options to choose from. The three most notable ones are Eco Pro, Comfort, and Sport w/ Traction Control.
With Eco Pro, which utilises auto start stop technology, the car shifts early and conservatively, even under an aggressive pedal, minimising fuel consumption.
The Comfort mode is what most owners will probably opt to select for day-to-day driving. The power band is linear, not having lag or spurts of power through its RPM range thanks to BMW's Twin Power technology, making tasks such as overtaking safer and easier. Shifting is smooth, and interior noise is quiet enough to keep the driver comfortable.
Driving in Sports Mode will reward the driver's most aggressive pedal inputs with brisk acceleration and rapid gear changes. The shifts are noticeably closer together as the engine revs closer to its red line.
There is also a manual mode, accessible by both the centre console shifter or the steering mounted paddle shifter for those who may want a little more control.
The suspension of the car, mated to its 18-inch alloy wheels, is on the firm side, leaning towards more of a sports-oriented feel rather than one of a luxury sedan.
However, rough, uneven terrain is not a problem for the suspension to smooth out, and potholes are felt as a firm controlled bounce.
Where cornering is concerned, there is very little body roll, and though the power steering feels a little numb with regards to driver feedback, it has a relatively quick steering ratio. This allows the driver to position the car along the road quickly, accurately, and safely.
With the features and options on this model, owners won't feel left out of the performance realm as with previous base model 3 series BMWs. With its relatively sporty exterior and interior, 184hp Twin Power, turbo 2.0 litre engine and impressive seven-speed transmission, owners of this model will also feel that they have bought the 'Ultimate Driving Machine'.
Model tested: 2017 BMW 320i Sport Line
Type: compact, four door sedan
Drivetrain: Rear wheel drive, 7-Speed Automatic,
Engine Info: 1997cc 4 Cylinder, single turbo, gas, auto start stop
Power output: 184hp
Trunk volume: 13ft3
Price as tested : $9,800,000
Fuel consumption: 27mpg combined (24mpg city/ 35mpg highway)
Competitors: Mercedes Benz C-Class, Audi A4.
Vehicle provided by ATL Automotive.