BMW 320d M Sport 2015 review

Facelifted 2015 BMW 3 Series tested in popular 320d M Sport spec – can it beat the Jaguar XE?

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.0 out of 5

The BMW 320d is still a great drivers’ car and now more refined than ever, too. Plenty of practicality, efficiency and badge image means it ticks all the right boxes, and at £33,365 for this M Sport auto it’s affordable, if not cheap. It lacks some of its main rival’s standard kit, but the margin between this and the Jaguar XE is so small the decision will come down to personal choice.

With Jaguar launching its all-new XE saloon this year, the contest for junior exec honours in the office car park has been reignited – and now the BMW 3 Series is back with a vengeance, looking to retake its crown with this facelifted model. We got behind the wheel of one of the most popular models in the range – the £33,635 320d M Sport automatic – to see what BMW’s best-selling saloon is like on UK roads.

The 3 Series has always been the best-in-class when it comes to driving dynamics, and it’s still brilliant on the road. The 187bhp 2.0-litre turbodiesel engine serves up smooth revving performance that sees the 0-62mph sprint dispatched in a rapid 7.2 seconds when fitted with the Sport Automatic eight-speed gearbox that we’ve tested here, but the refinement this engine and transmission combination brings is a real boon on long journeys.

Best executive cars to buy now

Plenty of 3 Series drivers will spend a lot of time on the motorway, so the impressive comfort and supple ride quality is a welcome trait, but as with most BMW’s, get the 320d on a twisting road and the chassis really shines.

The optional £515 adjustable dampers that tie in with BMW’s standard Drive Performance Control system smooth bumps out in Comfort mode, but select Sport and the suspension controls the 3 Series’ body with real composure, giving a more focused edge that allows you to work the car’s precise steering and carry plenty of speed. With steering wheel mounted paddles you can flip up and down the refined transmission’s ratios, adding an extra layer of involvement to the fantastic driving experience. 

BMW 335d Touring review

Cars like this have to be excellent all-rounders too, and fun behind the wheel isn’t enough on its own. Thankfully, there’s another EcoPro mode that means the 320d maximises efficiency. Claimed fuel economy of 67.3mpg and CO2 emissions of 116g/km mean it’s on a par with its closest rival, the Jaguar XE, so it’ll appeal to business users and families alike thanks to its affordable running costs and practicality.

The styling changes inside and out on this revised 3 Series are minimal, but it still remains one of the sharpest looking saloons on sale – especially with the sportier body kit and 19-inch alloy wheels as part of the M Sport Plus pack fitted to this car.

High-quality materials inside the cabin give the premium feel you’d expect from a BMW, and there’s ample head and legroom in the rear for adult passengers. A 480-litre boot gives it an edge over the XE when it comes to luggage space, and a folding seat option adds even more practicality.

Go for M Sport spec like this car and there’s lots on offer, including the sportier styling, leather, DAB radio, Bluetooth, cruise and climate control and sat-nav that works with the gearbox to pre-select the perfect gear based on where you are on the road.

With the BMW’s basic structure unchanged over its predecessor, the five-star Euro NCAP safety rating still stands, and with options such as a £370 Driving Assistant pack, which adds lane departure and forward collision warning as well as autonomous emergency braking, it means safety should be strong.

Most Popular

Energy firms want the right to switch off electric cars charging at home
Electric cars

Energy firms want the right to switch off electric cars charging at home

New powers being sought to allow energy providers to turn off high-drain devices to manage electricity network
18 Sep 2020
How green are electric cars? Polestar data shows ICE trailing EV
News

How green are electric cars? Polestar data shows ICE trailing EV

Electric car maker reveals whole-life CO2 emissions of the Polestar 2 are better than a petrol XC40 - but EV is only 14% cleaner with global energy mi…
17 Sep 2020
New 2020 Skoda Octavia engine line-up expands again
Skoda Octavia

New 2020 Skoda Octavia engine line-up expands again

New 1.0-litre mild-hybrid petrol engine to the lower end of the Skoda Octavia’s line-up, which has a starting price of £23,005
17 Sep 2020