Over recent years we’ve received many messages from visitors to our site saying that although they love their BMW, they’re selling their car because it’s so hopeless when it snows; well, we can report that the new BMW 330d shows that there is hope…
Over the last week we’ve driven many more miles in our BMW 330d, including from the Jaguar Land Rover factory at Halewood, where we witnessed the Range Rover Evoque being built, to testing the finished Evoque product at JLR’s off-road test facility at Eastnor Castle in Herefordshire, which involved negotiating many miles of mud-covered roads – as well as dealing with ice and even a light covering of snow.
We’d be the first to agree that most modern BMWs aren’t great in snow, but as we tell our visitors on a regular basis, this is because of the tyres, not the car. BMWs are mostly fitted with tyres that have little or no tread running across them. This means that they can’t get any grip in snow. Over the last couple of years we’ve driven BMWs and MINIs on snow and ice with winter tyres and the difference between normal and winter tyres in such conditions is nothing short of amazing. When we tested the MINI Coupe, fitted with winter tyres, in a very icy Clocaenog Forest, it was like driving on grippy tarmac .
Unfortunately our 330d didn’t come with with cold-weather tyres and so we feared the worst when the BBC weatherman warned of icy conditions ahead . It didn’t help when the freezing weather was forecast to first appear on the day when we were due to have an early-morning drive to Herefordshire to spend the day on the Land Rover off-road course at Eastnor Castle.
As predicted, ice had to be cleared from the windscreen of the 330d at 6.30am. After that, life got better. The car has heated seats, and these turned out to be an essential piece of equipment on that day, and on every day for the following week.
But the most pleasant surprise was how effective the traction control system seemed to be at avoiding rear-wheel drive skids and slides on many icy roads .
Driving carefully, no slippage occurred at all during low speed manoeuvres on non-treated roads. When giving the system more of a test, it was possible to slide the rear end, but the electronic systems brought the car back in line very quickly and forward progress was maintained.
Motorways posed no problem as they’d been gritted, but towards the end of the journey there were many miles of back roads in Herefordshire that were coated with mud. Again, the 330d, presumably due to its electronic safety systems, proved to be more secure than expected. As the mixture of sub-zero conditions and the mud on local roads gave the 330d a sufficiently challenging test, we didn’t try the 330d on Land Rover’s off-road course
This latest week of driving reinforced a few key things about the car. Firstly, how excellent the automatic transmission is; amazingly for an automatic transmission, it virtually always seems to be in the right gear, and hardly ever needs to be being manually overridden. Secondly, the ride is always extremely comfortable. Thirdly, the rear-wheel drive chassis just feels so much better than front-wheel drive rivals. Finally, the engine continues to provide effortless acceleration, and it makes a great noise in the process.
In terms of more detailed functions, the satnav continues to be easy and quick to use, and very effective in the way it displays its information. We’ve already praised the clarity of the satnav instructions on the head-up display, which even provides very small arrows to show you which lanes you should be in at motorway junctions. In particular, we’ve found that the function to find and set previous destinations is quick and enables you to get going much faster than in many other cars.
The estate capability was tested this week with a seven-foot tall Christmas tree, which the luggage area swallowed with no problems.
Fuel economy this week has been 43.5mpg. This figure has no doubt suffered due to having to defrost the car every day. Overall, after our time with the car, the 330d achieved 45.0mpg. This may be short of the official combined figure of 55.4mpg, but this is after a wide mix of driving. We twice managed over 60mpg with careful driving on long runs – which is highly impressive for a car with such performance.
As this is our penultimate report on the 330d, we need to cover some of the main items of optional equipment on our test car. In a previous report we highlighted that the car has Adaptive M Sport Suspension (£750) . This is an option that we would recommend ticking.
The head-up display costs £800 – but again we’d say that this is worth it.
The BMW Professional Multimedia package
is a hefty £1,995, but is very, very good.
The reversing assist camera is £300, but again this is useful.
The surround view capability that goes with it costs £500 – maybe this is something that we could live without.
Front electric seat adjustment is £910, and it’s much easier to get the right position than with the manually adjusted seats.
Even the seat heating is £300 – and that has been essential over the last week.
Variable sport steering is £250, the visibility package – including adaptive Xenon headlights – is £925, and finally
The panoramic glass sunroof is £1,155.
In total all the options on our test car add up to a scary £11,305, taking the total price from £36,300 to £47,605. Perhaps, towards the end of our test, we’ve finally found the biggest problem with this 330d – you’ll have to spend a lot on options to get the car you really want.
Despite the potentially high cost of options, in answer to our initial question, our conclusion is that the BMW 330d Touring really is the only car that you’ll ever need . It can be economical, it can be a rewarding driver’s car, it’s certainly a very comfortable car, and it’s also a practical family car.
The fact is, most people, especially company car drivers, will choose the 320d over the 330d; it’s cheaper to buy, it has a lower benefit in kind rating, and it’s more economical. However if you want that extra bit of sparkle in the performance department , then you won’t be disappointed with your investment in the 330d. For all the reasons that we’ve quoted over the last five weeks, the BMW 330d Touring gets a Green Car Guide rating of 10/10.
Week 4 –
BMW 330d v Subaru BRZ on some of the best roads in North Wales
watch the 330d v BRZ video
The new BMW 330d Touring costs £36,000 – but you can buy a 3 year old BMW 330d Touring for as little as £10,000 – see
Fuel economy extra urban: 62.8mpg
Fuel economy urban: 44.8mpg
Real-life economy: 45.0mpg
CO2 emissions: 135 g/km
Green rating: VED band E – first year £120
Company car tax liability (2012/13): 21%
Insurance group: TBC
Power: 258 bhp
Max speed: 155 mph
0-62mph: 5.6 seconds