I decided to test this very car driving to the UK from Spain. I was already holidaying with my family down on the Costa Blanca, so I figured instead of flying back to Britain, why not bring my wife and three young children home courtesy of BMW?
But first, I had to fly up to BMW's media launch event near Bilbao, and then drive the 320d solo back to Denia, north of Alicante, to finish building sandcastles with the kids. That was 400 miles; so, with the 1300 miles back home, I was looking at a total of 1700 miles behind the wheel of the BMW 320d M Sport.
Having not stopped for fuel on my six-hour charge from northern Spain, my five-year-old son was first out of the door on my arrival at our rented holiday home. He enthusiastically told me how much he loved the look of 'our' new car. I couldn't help but agree. That's because, whether you're five or 65, BMW's M Sport package draws the eye. The dropped sport suspension, dynamic front and rear bumpers, and large 19-inch alloy wheels are befittingly aggressive, while inside, there are leather seats, as well as climate control and those all-important' symbols.
The next day, we crammed our luggage, including a buggy, into the BMW's boot and quickly appreciated the four-door saloon's ability to 'live on the motorway'. On top of that, the flexibility of the ride, the excellent sat-nav and the seats (apart from the middle bench area - but more about that in a second) amounted to long-haul paradise - for me and our three kids anyway.
The only gripe during our 1300 mile journey was about the aforementioned rear centre seat. My wife found it too firm and got a bit bruised from a seatbelt stalk that kept digging into her thigh. The only reason she was sat there is that our two years old settled far better with 'mummy' next to her. The other two took it in turns to either sit in the back or ride up front with me.
As implied earlier, the 320d M Sport is more than capable of pounding flat out across Europe hour after hour. The BMW will gobble up unoccupied stretches of bitumen at 140mph, no shakes. This halves the official fuel consumption figure, but when it's 2 pm on a Sunday on the Continent and the school term starts at 9 am on Monday in Britain, it's incredible how little you care about the car doing sub-40mpg.
With the Eurotunnel taking only 35 minutes, I had to rapidly remember that, back in the UK, my higher-than-you'd-risk-in-Britain motorway pace needed reigning in, big time.
Now, with all five of us back home safely, I can only conclude that the 2015 BMW 320d M Sport Saloon is one of the most awe-inspiring compact executive motors ever. Yes, perhaps a Touring version of the 3 Series might have given us a bit more luggage space, but the car we had is still a decent family machine - and one I'd happily cross large swathes of Europe in again.
PROS 'N' CONS
- Power v
- Efficiency v
- Driving enjoyment v
- Rear middle seat X
- Max speed: 146 mph
- 0-62 mph: 7.2 secs
- Combined mpg: 67.3
- Engine layout: 1995cc, 4 cylinder, turbodiesel
- Max. power (bhp): 187
- Max. torque (lb.ft): 295
- CO2: 116 g/km
- Price: £33,635
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