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BMW 320d Efficient Dynamics (109g/km): Test Drive Report

Date: 27 August 2009   |   Author:

Category: Upper medium
P11D price: £26,660 (est.)
Key rival: Audi A4

This is one of the easiest cars to rate, and most difficult to fill an entire road test, that BusinessCar has ever driven. There's no surprise to be spoilt, so it's no problem to say now that this is the most obvious maximum 10/10 rating BusinessCar has, and probably will, give a car.

It's a normal BMW 320d, but with emissions that most superminis are struggling to get down to. Unless another manufacturer does something particularly unexpected, the 320d Efficient Dynamics will sit alone as a sub-110g/km upper medium model when it arrives in the UK next March. That means an average economy up 10mpg to 68.9mpg, figures that equal those of Citroen's diesel C1 city car.

In isolation, it's a remarkable achievement, but when you throw in the fact that's it's genuinely just a normal BMW 320d then it becomes remarkable. And difficult to write about, because to drive, and to look at, it's almost identical to the thousands of current-shape 320ds already out there in company car parks, what with it being the biggest-selling individual model in BMW's range. To get below the 110g/km figure important in capital allowance write-down terms, BMW did have to slightly detune the 2.0-litre diesel engine. But that still means 163PS of power compared to the standard car's 177PS, 128g/km of CO2 and 58.9mpg. By comparison, that Citroen C1, with the same emissions and economy, offers just 55PS from its 1.4 HDI diesel, and previously, the most powerful car in the sub-111g/km segment was the Honda Civic Hybrid at 115PS, while the Mini Cooper D was the fastest accelerating in the sector at 9.9 seconds to 62mph. The 320d Efficient Dynamics does it in 8.2.

And by way of a more serious comparison, look at the three rivals listed at the bottom of the page. To get an Audi, Mercedes or Lexus of similar power and price, respectively you'll end up with an A4 at 134g/km, C-class at 127 and IS at 148g/km. All of which are at least five benefit-in-kind groups above the BMW.

The new technology includes a clever flywheel that reduces the vibration and noise drivers experience when they change up a gear too early, which means the 320d Efficient Dynamics is comfortable tickling around town at lower revs than a diesel would normally be. The gearshift indicator has even been tweaked to reflect the ability to change up earlier.

On the road, there's nothing to give away that there's less power than the 'normal' 320d, that small-scale reduction isn't noticeable. And there's no other way of telling from behind the wheel that this is the lowest-emitting BMW on sale.

But this is no stripped-out super-eco model. Unless you're capable of spotting that it's been lowered by 15mm for aerodynamic reasons, only unique - and still attractive - alloys, a sticker in the rear window and some discreet internal labelling will give the 320d Efficient Dynamics away as anything other than a normal SE version. The specification, and availability of options, is exactly the same, as is the price. There's no M Sport version, automatic or a Tourer, as it won't quite get under 110g/km, but anyone opting for a 320d should really be heading for this version. BMW conservatively predicts that somewhere between 25-33% of 320d buyers will plump for this version, but for fleets it makes perfect sense.

This car really is a massive achievement.

BMW 320d Efficient Dynamics saloon
P11D price£26,660*
Model price range£21,525-£54,860
Fuel consumption68.9mpg
CO2 (tax) 109g/km (13%)
BIK 20/40% per month£58/£116
Service intervalvariable mls
Insurancegroup 14*
Warranty3yrs/unltd mls
Boot space460 litres
Engine size/power1995cc/163PS
Top speed/0-62mph137mph/8.2secs
On sale March 2010
* = Estimated 
VerdictAstounding figures for a car
that just a normal 320d to
drive – which means excellent


Astounding figures for a car that just a normal 320d to drive – which means excellent