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BMW 3-series facelift: Test Drive (continued)

Date: 04 September 2008   |   Author:

Driving shot
Category: Upper medium
P11D price: £21,475-£35,295
Key rival: Audi A4

But the best news is that the 330d, with its turbocharged 3.0-litre diesel engine, is better than ever. Described by one BMW boss as "more than a facelift" in engine terms, the unit has an extra 14PS, taking it to 245PS, yet fuel consumption improves by 3.3mpg to an average 49.6. CO2 emissions drop by 8g/km to 152, pulling the already impressive 330d down another BIK band to 21%. Compare that with the 330d's key C-class and A4 rivals and their emissions of 193g/km and 172g/km respectively.

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The engine is among the best in the world, sounding and behaving like a high-performance petrol if the driver's in the mood, but offering getting on for 60mpg during lighter-footed long-distance driving.

That economy and emissions advantage over its rivals means the 330d in the SE trim driven here is more than two pence per mile better than its admittedly four-wheel drive Audi A4 arch rival (four-wheel drive cars are generally less efficient than two-wheel drive ones), while the Mercedes C-class is well adrift thanks to a higher P11D and the fact that it's only available with an automatic gearbox, which hits list price, emissions and economy. There are no other serious prestige rivals, with Jaguar, Lexus and Alfa Romeo not offering large-capacity diesels.

It's a justified victory for the cleaner, more stylish new 3-series. The new 3.0-litre diesel engine is even more of a delight than before, and it manages to trumps its rivals for performance and economy. For that reason it has to be BusinessCar's first ten-out-of-ten car.