Latest Business Car Manager News: The new BMW 330d Luxury Touring may be the best compact estate yet

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Business car owners will be pleased with the latest release in the 3-Series Touring by BMW. Incredibly efficient, luxourious and with significant reduction in emmisions, the BMW 300d Touring is already a winner with Business Car Manager. Read on for a new, in-depth review from Business Car Manager.

Smart, stylish and sporty - every bit the BMW. It's slightly bigger than it's predecessor

BMW 330d Luxury Touring

With the new shape BMW 3-series saloon already making inroads in the UK, it was only a matter of time before the 3-Series Touring, or estate, also showed up for duty.

Now it’s here and at the head of the new 3-Series Touring family we find the 330d, this ultra smooth six cylinder turbodiesel people/load carrier.

Through four generations dating back to 1987, the 3-Series Touring has long been a favourite in the UK. For generation five, launched in late September, the successful formula is enhanced once again: more cabin space, better performance, lower emissions, extra technology among the many updates.

Initially there are three engine choices: efficient 2.0-litre petrol or diesel (320i or 320d), while the flagship 3.0-litre 330d tested here offers a sizeable uptick in performance yet boasts impressive 55.4 mpg combined economy and C02 emissions of just 135 g/km to prove it’s no gas guzzler…

While many private and business users will likely check out the four cylinder 320d (60.1 mpg and 124 g/km), it’s a testament to BMW’s engineering prowess that the six cylinder 330d can run it so close now in the ‘green race’, especially with a company car tax band of 21% (tax year 2012/13).

Later in the year, BMW will add a 320i petrol Touring plus two further 2.0-litre diesels, the 318d and 316d.

The model we’re testing, the 330d Luxury comes with 8-speed automatic transmission and has a standard on-the-road price of £37,200.

What’s hot?

The new 3-Series Touring shape might be evolutionary but it’s still smart, stylish and sporty, unmistakedly a BMW, skilfully reconfiguring the saloon to add the new estate tail.

The new Touring is a touch bigger and offers up more cabin space than any versions to date. On a stretched wheelbase, there’s now 17 mm extra kneeroom in the back and 9mm more headroom, BMW says.

Rear seats have a useful 40:20: 40 split. BMW is also claiming the largest load capacity in its class. At 495 litres, luggage area is 35 litres bigger than the previous generation Touring. Boot space also ultimately expandable to 1500 litres.

An electrically powered boot with independently opening upper glass area is standard equipment.

Upscale, high quality look and feel of the cabin is identical to that of the 3-Series saloon.

Superb level of refinement from the updated 3.0-litre straight-six turbodiesel engine, now with less weight and less friction to make it even more efficient.

Phenomenal torque band, starting from just 1500 rpm, gives the BMW effortless pulling power and speed. Also new for the 330d is a standard 8-speed automatic transmission with steering wheel paddle shifts, meaning one can change gear manually if they wish.

Different model grades – ES/SE, Sport, Modern, Luxury and M Sport – and long options/spec list widens the car’s appeal and gives the buyer plenty of choice.

What’s not?

While the BMW handles with precision, the Active M Sport suspension (it’s a £750 option) fitted to the test car is an acquired taste. You have various settings, Eco Pro, Comfort, Sport, Sport +, to choose from, however to the enthusiast driver, at least, this electronic system doesn’t quite muster the accuracy, purity and feedback of one of BMW’s (excellent) conventional systems.

The Touring’s sporty design and tapered back roof pillars means that some degree of load carrying has inevitably been compromised for style.

For all its attributes, the 330d inevitably will be in the shadow of the hit four cylinder 320d, which costs less to buy, insure and fuel. In round figures, there’s a £1300 premium for the Touring vs the 3-Series saloon, then another £5000 for the 330d over the 320d.

Though the 330d Luxury comes with a generous spec, there’s still a lengthy options list to negotiate which will add to the car’s £36,300 OTR price.

Business Car Manager road test verdict

Let’s be clear: front to back, the BMW 330d Touring is a class act and a stand out car to drive. It is every inch the premium product the market expects, with that fabulous 3.0-litre straight-six turbodiesel engine right at the heart of things and making the BMW unique on the road.

The way BMW has been able to close the emissions/economy gap so comprehensively on the class-standard Efficient Dynamics 320d with this upscale six cylinder model is something remarkable. With 135 g/km vs 124 g/km, and 55.4 mpg vs 60.1 mpg, as anyone can see, the difference is far from cavernous….

So this is a car that can be ordered with the head as well as the heart – as a business owner it will please the accountant; as an SME director the finance director will also be smiling.

As good as the 320d Touring is sure to be, the extra sophistication, refinement and performance that you get with the 330d make it worth the premium in our view and a compelling purchase.

BMW 330d Luxury Touring – the low down

P11D Value                                                            £37,025
Monthly business rental (ex VAT)                            £413 (3yrs/30,000 miles)
Tax Bands 2012/13 to 2014/15                            21%; 22%; 23%
Benefit in kind 2012/13 to 2014/15                            £7775; £8146; £8516
Engine                                                                    3.0-litre 6cyl turbocharged diesel
CO2 Emissions                                                    135g/km
Power/torque                                                            258 bhp/560Nm
0-62mph/top speed                                                    5.6secs/155mph
Economy (official)                                                    55.4mpg

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Conrad Swailes
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