Bavarian pride ‘rages’ through stormBy Tessa R. Salazar
Philippine Daily Inquirer
It’s not just the beer. The German zeitgeist for precision, perfection, and that general pursuit of superiority has perenially “infected” car lovers all around the world, Pinoy car nuts being no exception.
Thus, what comes to mind when the “Pride of Bavaria” is mentioned is that intoxicating swig that overflows every Oktober, and that equally intoxicating ride that brings out the swag in every joyride. However, to be politically correct here, never should the two meet. So let the beer be for the time being, and turn our full attention to such a fine piece of technological craftsmanship by the blue-and-white checkered badge.
Sober yet excited, Inquirer Motoring drove BMW’s most popular car the 3 Series, the 320d, no less, the most exposed BMW in the recent London 2012 Olympics. Although the sun was up (and so were the waving flags of Bayerisch Motoren Werke) on a warm Wednesday last August 1 at Serendra, Bonifacio Global City, at the starting line, ominous clouds formed in the horizon.
There were actually six groups at the line, provided by Asian Carmakers Corp. (the official importer of BMW cars in the Philippines) with two variants of the BMW 3 Series: the top-of-the-line 328i, and the 320d. Our team was handed the keys to the two-liter 320d Sport Line, known for its performance and having one of the world’s cleanest and most economical diesel engines.
We took off in style, the red 320d Sport Line prominently displaying the eight heavily contoured black kidney grille slats in chrome. The black inserts in the front apron made the air intakes appear larger, lending extra emphasis to the muscular wheel arches.
The stop-and-zoom traffic along Edsa was conducive to experimenting with the varying drive modes on the shifter: Eco Pro, Comfort, Sport, and Sport Plus. The drive modes were unnervingly smart, the transitions and accelerations betrayed no traces of lag, no matter how fast we flipped from one mode to the next. The engine response was instantaneous. The automatic start/stop feature was particularly useful for the Edsa traffic, enabling the engine to “die” when the car is not moving, then spring instantly back to life when the gas pedal is applied. That alone already saves six percent in fuel consumption.
The start-stop feature, however, can be overridden, with the push of a button, by drivers not “ready” for such a technology. This BMW variant also uses regenerative braking to charge the electric battery that runs the lights, air-conditioning, and all other accessories when the engine is on stop-off.
The automatic start/stop function comes as standard with the automatic transmission. Using the driving experience switch, drivers can activate the Eco Pro mode, which is designed to facilitate a particularly economical driving style.
The Start-Stop technology also readjusts the power needs of the car, such as the air-conditioning system. The special starter system’s layout has also been redesigned to accommodate the substantially increased number of times the starter system would be activated by the Start-Stop technology. BMW engineers have also re-thought the wet battery technology, virtually replacing this with a special battery that holds more potential energy.
Further reduction of carbon dioxide emissions and fuel economy consumption are expected with both the start-stop feature and the eight-speed automatic gearbox in this car. And with the 320d diesel engine that feels like gasoline powered during high-speed acceleration, what more can a 3 Series owner ask for?
As if on cue, the dark clouds gave way to heavy rain as our group set rubber on the SCTEx [Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway], and didn’t let up until we arrived in Subic. Visibility was almost, as the monsoon rains brought with them an angry wind. It seemed like the perfect setup for our convoy, though, as there was no better chance to experience the highly touted stability and balance of this sedan than in this situation. Driver confidence was kept on a high with the aerodynamic design of the car (which seemed as if on a squat position, wide on the lower part of the rear, parallel to the ground), the suspension setting, its improved vehicle handling, rear-wheel drive, 50:50 weight distribution and sophisticated chassis technology with high light-alloy content.
Lightness of space
The 3 Series has grown, literally. It has a wider track, creating a more impressive on-road presence. The flat design of the revised BMW kidney grille also serves to underline the car’s sporty feel. A modern interpretation of the classic three-box design with sweeping bonnet, short front overhang, long wheelbase and set-back greenhouse allows the new BMW 3 Series sedan to project the dynamic allure typical of BMW in even more concentrated form.
The sixth-generation BMW 3 Series comes with increased interior space: a 93-mm increase in length. The rear passengers now have extra legroom as they climb aboard. There is also 15 mm of additional knee room behind the front seats, while headroom is up by 8 mm.
Needless to say, the BMW 3 series is a technologically endowed car. That means a new owner or driver really needs to take time out to get used to all of its features. Personally, I wish there was a bit more height in the driver’s seat, as I strained a bit to see the rush of the road ahead even with my seat height adjustments maxed out.
According to auto expert Tony Lewin, the 3 Series, more than any other model, helped BMW conquer the automotive world, from being just a local producer of sport cars in the late 1960s, to a global organization selling premium cars at all levels of the market today.
In 35 years, the 3 Series has defined the global premium compact segment. It was first introduced in the Philippines in 1993 and has since commanded the biggest volume in all of BMW models sold in the country.
It has also become the bestselling premium vehicle in the market for a number of years. Now that’s something a 35-year-old and a 19-year-old can roll out the barrel for, and shout “Cheers!” to.
The top-of-the-line 328i has a Sport Line while the 320d comes with Sport, Luxury and Modern Lines.
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