|Baby Bimmer BMW 323i|
Friday, 22 January 2010 02:00
While most BMWs come standard with some really great "hidden" technology, you sometimes have to get involved with the options list to really feel like you`re getting your money`s worth. Great handling and excellent safety make no difference when you`re sitting in traffic and want to listen to music, or you`re headed to the airport and need satellite navigation.
Thankfully, our 323i test car was kitted out with lush brown leather, the new iDrive system (which has an integrated hard drive for storing music), satnav, and BMW Hi-Fi sound. What a lovely place to be - no doubt made better by a slight interior redesign of this new facelift model. The only problem is that these niceties do push the price up, up, up.
We`ve yet to drive a BMW that disappoints. Sharp steering, lovely power delivery and a silky smooth motor. The engine is a 2.5-litre six-cylinder model, producing 140kW. This is enough - a lot better than the asthmatic 320i`s four-cylinder motor - but it feels stunted. The lovely six-cylinder noise is never chased up by six-cylinder performance, despite BMW`s claims of 0-100km/h in less than eight seconds.
It handles bumps beautifully, though, and it`s fantastically refined in everyday driving. Get one in this spec - with lots of toys and modest wheels - and those traffic woes will melt away. As a daily driver, it`s pointless getting anything faster, unless it`s the M3, especially if you just sit in traffic or cruise at the national speed limit most of the time.
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