Three months into a long-term loan of a BMW 320d Sport Edition, Tony Verdon reports on the practicality of the premium sedan
BMW's 3 Series have for decades been the company's best-selling models, defying market swings towards hatchbacks, and more recently, SUVs.
The tight, balanced and responsive driving habits of the car have been the main reason for its success through six successive models over four decades, and the medium-sized four-door saloon continues to defy market trends.
One of the reasons may be its practicality.
The BMW 320d Sport Edition is Driven's long-term test car, which we are testing over three months. The aim has been to find out just how practical the medium-sized sports sedan is during everyday use.
Inevitably, during this period, there has been the need to transport up to four or five people in the car (five is a squeeze but four adults are accommodated comfortably with plenty of leg and elbow room), and to use the boot.
At 480 litres of available space, the boot looks cavernous and its squarish shape provides plenty of practical space for the likes of golf clubs, body boards, potting mix from the garden centre and a boxed microwave oven.
It is surely no accident that the luggage capacity, with the rear seats in place, is identical in competing German models, such as the Audi A4 and the C-Class Mercedes-Benz sedans. As a further comparison the Mazda 6 sedan can accommodate 389 litres of luggage.
Loading the BMW is easy with an automatic boot-opening function on the clicker device needed to get into the car, and the boot lip is relatively low so it is easy to load heavy items. The automatic opening is especially useful in the supermarket car park, when heaving armfuls of bulging shopping bags into the boot.
The rear seats split is 40:20:40, meaning the two main rear seat backs fold down to provide even more cargo space, along with the centre arm-rest.
Folding the seat back down is a matter of pulling a lever, and there is space in the rear for a disassembled BloKart, its three wheels, packed sails and mast, by folding down one of the rear seat backs.
There is also a floor mat in the boot to secure small items while the car is moving.