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

New 2021 Vauxhall Astra teased for the first time
Vauxhall Astra teaser 1
Vauxhall Astra

New 2021 Vauxhall Astra teased for the first time

The new Vauxhall Astra will get electrified powertrains and a more premium image
8 Jun 2021
New Vauxhall Astra prototype review
Vauxhall Astra prototype - front
Vauxhall Astra

New Vauxhall Astra prototype review

A new Vauxhall Astra is on the way and we've driven a prototype ahead of its official arrival
14 Jun 2021
‘Our switch to electric will soon make driving manual cars a lost art'
Gearknob
Opinion

‘Our switch to electric will soon make driving manual cars a lost art'

Want to drive a manual car? You need to take your test in a manual car. So what happens once all driving-school cars are automatic EVs?
8 Jun 2021
'The hydrogen underdog disruptor is back in town'
Toyota Mirai opinion
Opinion

'The hydrogen underdog disruptor is back in town'

Mike Rutherford says hydrogen-powered cars could still be a frequent sight on UK roads
13 Jun 2021
UN report highlights ethical problems with electric cars
Electric car charging
News

UN report highlights ethical problems with electric cars

Analysis reveals lithium refining takes 65 per cent of Chilean region’s water, while 40,000 child miners dig for cobalt in DRC
14 Jun 2021
New Porsche Macan facelift prototype review
Porsche Macan prototype - front
Porsche Macan

New Porsche Macan facelift prototype review

We get behind the wheel of a prototype version of the facelifted Porsche Macan SUV
13 Jun 2021
Illegal car modification hotspots revealed
Volkswagen Polo exhaust
News

Illegal car modification hotspots revealed

Gloucestershire has the highest proportion of illegal car modifications, with altered number plates the most common breach
14 Jun 2021
Ineos Grenadier prototype 2022 review
Ineos Grenadier prototype
Ineos Grenadier 4x4

Ineos Grenadier prototype 2022 review

Can the Ineos Grenadier really fill the mud-splattered void left by the old Land Rover Defender? We take a first drive in a prototype to find out...
15 Jun 2021
'Factories are at a standstill because they can’t get the parts to finish cars'
Car manufacturing
Opinion

'Factories are at a standstill because they can’t get the parts to finish cars'

Steve Fowler points out the fresh issues facing global car manufacturing
9 Jun 2021
New Nissan Qashqai production begins in Sunderland
Nissan Qashqai - front static
News

New Nissan Qashqai production begins in Sunderland

Nissan will offer every school child in the North East of England a place on the Nissan Skills Foundation course to mark 35 years of manufacturing in …
14 Jun 2021
Volkswagen Golf GTI Clubsport vs Cupra Leon 300
Volkswagen Golf GTI Clubsport vs Cupra Leon 300
Car group tests

Volkswagen Golf GTI Clubsport vs Cupra Leon 300

The capable Volkswagen Golf GTI Clubsport goes up against its new Cupra Leon 300 sibling in this hot hatch battle
12 Jun 2021
New hydrogen-powered Land Rover Defender prototype in development
Land Rover Defender
Land Rover Defender

New hydrogen-powered Land Rover Defender prototype in development

The Land Rover Defender FCEV prototype will be assessed for off-road and long-range zero-emission motoring
14 Jun 2021
SsangYong J100 to get tough in the electric SUV sector
SsangYong J100 electric SUV
SsangYong

SsangYong J100 to get tough in the electric SUV sector

The tough looking electric mid-size SUV is slated for production next year and will be joined by a pick-up model
15 Jun 2021
New 2021 Volkswagen T7 Multivan replaces Caravelle
Volkswagen T7 Multivan - front
Volkswagen Caravelle

New 2021 Volkswagen T7 Multivan replaces Caravelle

The Volkswagen T7 Multivan MPV switches to the MQB platform and adds plug-in hybrid technology
10 Jun 2021