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2006 BMW 320dSE

Mar 2009 - First Report (45,000 miles)...PART TWO

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2006 BMW 320dSE 2006 BMW 320dSE 2006 BMW 320dSE

Read Part One First

The first bend is a third gear left, just as you pass the national limit sign, which can be taken at 35. The road surface here is pitted which has the 3 skipping towards the centreline as the firm suspension struggles to keep the 205/55 R16 Continental Premium Contacts pressed into the tarmac.

Now the road climbs fairly steeply round a sweeping double apex right-hander that is seriously off camber. Foot hard down, the 3 gathers momentum quickly, feather the throttle a bit at the second apex and prepare for the next left-hander. This is sharper but still 3rd gear, no need to brake, just a momentary lift then neutral throttle as I turn the wheel. Response is instant and precise, the 3 changing direction with real composure.

Foot hard down again through the next quick right-left sequence. The revs rise, still in third, to just below the redline before braking hard for the next right-hander. The brake pedal is firm and the response progressive and plenty powerful. Still no need to change down, turn in and nail it out of the bend into a fairly long and straightish uphill section. That heavy steering now seems nicely weighty. Still not enough feeback but sufficient to tell me that I’ve still got loads of grip (hmmm...try harder next time perhaps?).

Up the straight, accelerating like no diesel I’ve driven before, grab 4th. Now that I’m focussed, changing gear quickly and firmly, the gearbox with its relatively short throw, doesn’t seem quite so unwilling.

Next is a left-right-left. The first is taken quickly in 4th and the next two subsequently slower, braking briefly and grabbing 3rd for the final one. Now a couple of seconds with the throttle buried in the tired looking dark grey carpet. Full chat, engine racing, now sounding almost sporty in a growly kind of way. Then brake fairly hard for another 3rd gear right. The exit of this one is also pitted and again the 3 struggles to find grip, the DSC light flickers momentarily and the system acts to catch the rear which has stepped out ever so slightly, but I’m already there.

Accelerate briskly again for about 100 metres before braking hard for a sharp left-hander that climbs steeply after the apex. I drop to second for this...too slow. Boy, this thing has some grip. Subsequent runs up this heavenly piece of tarmac show this to be a medium speed 3rd gear bend in the 3, not something your average family car would appreciate. Foot hard down again and round the final right-hander before reaching the summit and the 40 limit sign. Game over. I’m impressed. That was one of the most pleasurable drives of my life on one of my favourite stretches of road. The joy heightened perhaps by the initial misgivings. The power, the balance, the sharp responses and the grip...most of all, the grip. Opportunities to enjoy this piece of tarmac without catching slower traffic are rare. There’s only one overtaking place and, although I like to drive quickly when conditions permit, I’m no idiot and I don’t take risks. To have such an occasion and be in the 320d was fantastic.

But, back to reality now, and traffic looms ahead. Turn down the attitude dial from attack to cruise and, oh dear, clunky gear change, hard ride, heavy steering. Honestly, if you bought this car thinking you were getting a £25k luxury saloon to cosset you on long journeys, or waft you around town or to the local Sainsbury’s, I’d say you bought it without driving it or you bought it on badge and reputation alone. And, if you were honest with yourself, you’d be monumentally underwhelmed. Me, I’ve decided I can live with it, ’cause I know when I round that left-hander and pass the national limit sign, I’m in for the drive of my life.


Oct 09 - Final Report (54,000 miles)More

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