REVIEW | We drive the new BMW 320i

BMW 320i. Image: Sean Parker / Wheels24
BMW 320i. Image: Sean Parker / Wheels24

• The G20 3 Series was launched by BMW in 2019.

• We drive the latest 320i, powered by a 2.0-litre turbocharged engine. 

• Power is rated at 135kW and 300Nm.

I find driving extremely rewarding. And much like writing, it's a selfish activity. I love taking a drive, not to anywhere, not for anything, just a journey.

The drive ventured towards Simon's Town, hooked a right and ended up on Red Hill road. It's a beautiful piece of twisting tarmac that snakes up the mountain.

It's not a particularly long road at 7.6km but features more than 30 bends, curves and corners, and six hairpin bends.

There were beautiful gushing waterfalls along the way and made it feel as if I was far away from civilisation for a bit. It also has gorgeous views of the Atlantic Ocean and Simon's Town.  

The G20 model launched at the beginning of 2019 and the 320i on test is one of six derivatives in the range.

Power comes from a 1998cc engine with turbocharging that produces 135kW and 300Nm. BMW reckons it can hit 100km/h from standstill in just over 7.1 seconds, and runs out of puff at 235km/h.

In case you didn't know, the 3 Series is rear-wheel drive and has an eight-speed automatic transmission. And the torque is available from low down in the rev range.

What do you think of the BMW 320i? Please email us.

The new car is comfortable to find a rhythm in. The engine and chassis set-up is superb and having 'only' 135kW, and 300Nm was perfect for navigating the tight bends of Red Hill road. 

Prod the sport mode button, and that immediately built up the revs more and made the car feel more urgent in its application. The steering builds a lovely connection between the driver and the road. 

And I felt confident on the switchbacks that the nose would turn in precisely, and I'd be able to open the steering slowly and get onto the power. 

I did another run down the mountain and focused on braking well in advance to get the car placed nicely ahead of the tight corners; the test unit was devoid of optional paddle shifts, and I can't say I missed them. 

The 3 Series rear-wheel drive setup means I could initiate that exciting hint of oversteer and slip from the rear. 

BMW says each model weighs around 55kg less (the same as 17 600 tea bags) than its predecessor. It has a skill to it that shines through in the chassis and communicates via the steering. 

I cherry-picked another favourite road of mine to evaluate the 3's ride on Ou Kaapse Weg. A typical mountain pass that has long sweeping bends and stunning views of the Southern Suburbs and beyond.

I was keen to feel the adaptive chassis work on the different road conditions. It offers a supple ride that is the right mix of comfort and sporty. A lovely little turbo whistle and bang from the waste gate reminds you of the car's sporty underpinnings.  

The new 3's levels of refinement are almost scary in how quickly the car picks up speed. It does so seamlessly and puts its proverbial hand up as a complete all-rounder. It's more comfortable than ever, with more toys and technology than any generation.

Thank goodness it's still great to drive. 

Price – R717 400 (standard) 

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