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2009 BMW 3 Series Review & Road Test
2009 BMW 3 Series Review & Road Test
by Karl Peskett

2009 BMW 325i Review and Road Test

Two cylinders more means two thumbs up

Model Tested:

  • 2009 BMW 325i automatic – $75,900 RRP

Options:

  • Electric sunroof – glass – $2920
  • Metallic paint (Blue Water) – $1700
  • BMW light-alloy wheels star spoke 286 with mixed run-flat safety tyres, 17-inch with 225/45 R17, 255/40 R17 – $1000
  • Interior Trim (Walnut Light) – No Cost Option

CarAdvice Rating:

I was reading an article in a magazine a few weeks ago that talked about class distinction. The author flew on an airline that was completely first class. In other words, no economy, and no business class.

There were the usual niceties like champagne on arrival, hors d’oeuvres, beautiful meals, and affable hostesses. Sounds pretty good, but for some reason, he was disappointed.

2009 BMW 3 Series Review & Road Test
2009 BMW 3 Series Review & Road Test
2009 BMW 3 Series Review & Road Test
2009 BMW 3 Series Review & Road Test

The reason, well there was no one to look down upon. No passengers to peer through the curtain at, and think “I’ve made it. Yeah, you guys are all jealous.” He wanted to be revered, and to be thought of as special by someone else.

Which brings me to the BMW 3 Series range. There always has to be a base model, I suppose, so other models in the collection look better.

A couple of weeks ago, we took the base 3 Series for a spin, in the form of the 320i. Our consensus, and our readers too, was that as nice as the 3 Series is, the 2.0-litre, four-cylinder petrol really doesn’t cut it.

The diesel powered 320d is demonstrably better in all aspects, and for only $3000 more.

But if you go further up the aspirational ladder, and the first six-cylinder you come across is the 323i. As it’s a detuned version of the 2.5-litre six fitted to the 325i, we opted for the latter for our next test. With the 325i making 160kW and 250Nm, it’s starting to put the excellent 3 Series chassis into perspective.

As it also carries the six-speed automatic, the extra torque certainly does smooth out the changes, and thankfully, the lever goes the right way for changing manually – forward to downshift, and backward to upshift.

We’ve had this engine on test before, however in a larger-bodied car, so how does it fare?

2009 BMW 3 Series Review & Road Test
2009 BMW 3 Series Review & Road Test
2009 BMW 3 Series Review & Road Test
2009 BMW 3 Series Review & Road Test

The bottom end torque, the swelling power, and the screaming top end will certainly have any car junky’s spine tingling. It’s also the way it motivates the 3 Series that impresses. Sure, it’s not the biggest engine, but it sure does punch well above its weight, in terms of pulling power.

Making most of its free-revving nature, the sonorous six is best above 3500-4000rpm. That doesn’t stop it hauling from low revs, though. It’s tractable, yet will smash the 100km/h barrier in 7.7 seconds.

But the best thing about the engine is its dual-role function. Happy to baby its passengers with a smooth nature (helped by the commendable gearbox), it’s remarkably quiet, notably at idle. Yet stick the boot in and it screams to the heavens, with the driver smiling uncontrollably.

Of course, with its bigger wheels, and similar weight (1445kgs), the 325i has the edge on its little brother in the handling stakes. Turn in is a little crisper, it’s similarly suspended, and steering feel and weight is also excellent, save at low speeds where, again, it gets a little heavy. As it’s more a driver’s car, you care less about that.

The combination of brilliant balance, excellent brakes and sweet engine means that the 325i distinguishes itself as the starting point for desirable cars in the 3 Series’ range.

2009 BMW 3 Series Review & Road Test
2009 BMW 3 Series Review & Road Test
2009 BMW 3 Series Review & Road Test
2009 BMW 3 Series Review & Road Test

Of course, you end up paying for it, though. With a starting price of $75,900, it’s a good $21,400 more than its little brother, the 320i. Cynics would complain that that’s a lot of extra cash for just two more cylinders, but they need to remember that there’s a lot more included equipment as standard.

iDrive is fitted, as well as the larger, clearer screen and Business Navigation. The outstanding voice command system must be mentioned, with just about every function of the car being able to be controlled by pressing a button on the wheel, and giving your decree.

It’s intuitive, too, as everything you read on the menu is a spoken command, which means not having to read through 50 pages of an instruction manual to find out how to get somewhere. Blitzing Audi’s MMI system, the new iDrive with voice control has to be now the best system on the market.

In addition the Bluetooth system, and stereo are both clear and crisp, with touch sensitive favourites buttons that display what their functions are by just brushing your finger over the top.

The rest of the interior is pure 3 Series, and is echoed in the 320i we tested earlier. Again, the revised (and now excellent) iDrive was optioned, as was metallic paint and sunroof.

To look at, apart from the wheels, there’s not a lot to distinguish the different designations of the 3 Series. Good for base model owners, not so good for the higher versions. I guess that’s why “model designation deletion” is a no cost option.

2009 BMW 3 Series Review & Road Test
2009 BMW 3 Series Review & Road Test
2009 BMW 3 Series Review & Road Test

However, that all disappears into the back of your mind, as soon as you’re behind the wheel of the 325i. It’s the way it drives that really matters.

It’s nice to sometimes look down on those below you, however, I prefer to look in my rear vision mirror at those left in my dust.

CarAdvice Overall Rating:
How does it Drive:
How does it Look:
How does it Go:

Specifications:

  • Engine: 2.5-litre, six-cylinder, inline
  • Power: 160kW @ 6500rpm
  • Torque: 250Nm @ 2750-4250rpm
  • Induction: Naturally aspirated multipoint injected
  • Transmission: Six-speed automatic
  • Differential/Driven Wheels: Open centre/rear
  • Brakes: Single piston vented discs front and rear
  • Top Speed: 242km/h
  • 0-100km/h: 7.7 seconds
  • 0-400m: Not tested
  • CO2 Emissions: 212km/h
  • Fuel Consumption: 8.8 litres/100km
  • Fuel Tank Capacity: 63 litres
  • Fuel Type: 91RON petrol
  • ANCAP Rating: Five stars
  • Airbags: Six
  • Safety: ABS, EBD, DSC
  • Spare Wheel: No
  • Tow Capacity: 1600kgs brakes, 745kgs unbraked
  • Turning Circle: 11 metres
  • Warranty: Three years/unlimited
  • Weight: 1445kgs
  • Wheels: 17-inch alloy


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BMW 3 SERIES BREAKDOWN

2009 BMW 3 Series Review & Road Test
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BMW 3 Series Specs

20d EXECUTIVE : E90 MY09 : 2.0L DIESEL TURBO F/INJ - 6 SP AUTOMATIC STEPTRONIC - DIESEL - 4D SEDAN
Car Details
Make
BMW
Model
3
Variant
20d EXECUTIVE
Series
E90 MY09
Year
2009
Body Type
4D SEDAN
Seats
5
Pricing
New Price
N/A
Private Sale
$22,880 - $26,000
Dealer Retail
$23,770 - $28,270
Dealer Trade
$18,000 - $20,800
Engine Specifications
Engine Type
DIESEL TURBO F/INJ
Engine Size
2.0L
Max. Torque
340Nm @  1750rpm
Max. Power
125kW @  4000rpm
Pwr:Wgt Ratio
86.5W/kg
Bore & Stroke
84x90mm
Compression Ratio
17
Valve Gear
DUAL OVERHEAD CAM
Drivetrain Specifications
Transmission
6 SP AUTOMATIC STEPTRONIC
Drive Type
REAR WHEEL DRIVE
Final Drive Ratio
3.154
Fuel Specifications
Fuel Type
DIESEL
Fuel Tank Capacity
61Litres
Fuel Consumption (Combined)
6L / 100km
Weight & Measurement
Kerb Weight
1445
Gross Vehicle Weight
Not Provided
Height
1421mm
Length
4520mm
Width
1817mm
Ground Clearance
107mm
Towing Capacity
Brake:1600  Unbrake:745
Steering & Suspension
Steering Type
RACK & PINION - POWER ASSISTED
Turning Circle
11
Front Rim Size
7x16
Rear Rim Size
7x16
Front Tyres
205/55 R16
Rear Tyres
205/55 R16
Wheel Base
2760
Front Track
1500
Rear Track
1513
Front Brakes
DISC - VENTILATED
Rear Brakes
DISC - VENTILATED
Front Suspension
Double wishbone, Coil Spring, Gas damper
Rear Suspension
Multi-link system, Coil Spring, Hydraulic damper, Shock absorber
Standard Features
Comfort
Auto Climate Control with Dual Temp Zones, Power front seats
Control & Handling
16 Inch Alloy Wheels, Traction Control System
Driver
Cruise Control, Multi Function Steering Wheel, Parking Distance Control, Power Steering, Trip Computer
Entertainment
Radio CD with 6 Speakers
Exterior
Fog Lights - Front, Power Mirrors
Interior
Leather Upholstery, Power Windows
Safety
Dual Airbag Package, Anti-lock Braking, Head Airbags, Side Front Air Bags
Security
Central Locking Remote Control, Engine Immobiliser
Optional Features
Comfort
Sport Seats
Control & Handling
17 Inch Alloy Wheels, Sports Suspension
Driver
Satellite Navigation
Entertainment
Premium Sound System
Exterior
Metallic Paint, M Sport Package II, Xenon Headlights
Security
Alarm System/Remote Anti Theft
Other
Service Interval
12 months /  25,000 kms
Warranty
36 months /  999,000 kms
VIN Plate Location
Driver Side Inner Guard
Country of Origin
South Africa