THINK OF THE BMW 320i xDrive as an all-seasons 3 Series. Whereas most versions of the popular saloon are driven by only their rear wheels, the xDrive has four-wheel drive for extra security in slippery conditions. Initially the only engine is a turbocharged 2.0-litre petrol, but the new 4×4 setup will soon be available on the popular 320d. Six-cylinder and Touring (estate) BMW 320i xDrive versions will also get the fourwheel- drive treatment.
The xDrive drives much like any other 3 Series, albeit with much better traction. You have to be a little more careful with your clutch and throttle inputs to keep things smooth, which is why the optional (and excellent) automatic gearbox is well worth considering.
Our test car was fitted with adaptive M Sport suspension another option we’d strongly recommend. Keep it in Comfort and you won’t be bothered by low-speed bumps, while selecting Sport makes the car more agile when you’re in the mood for some fun.
The petrol engine is a mixed bag. It delivers brisk performance and is smooth and reasonably quiet, but it’s not the sweetestsounding engine you’ll ever hear. High-speed refinement could also be better; there’s a little too much road noise on coarse surfaces and too much wind noise on the motorway.
The cabin is a class act, though. Almost everything you see and touch is suitably plush, and there’s plenty of room in both the front and rear for tall adults. Only the offset pedals spoil things slightly. The xDrive costs £1535 more than the equivalent rear-wheel drive model, which is a lot for private buyers, but adds just £30 to the monthly company car tax bill of a higher-rate taxpayer.
The other running costs aren’t significantly worse, either, so for company car drivers the xDrive is an all-weather 3 Series without any serious drawbacks. Of course, a diesel model would be even better. A 320d xDrive that’s fast and secure in any conditions, yet still manages 50mpg in the real world, is the one we’re really waiting for.