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BMW new diesels review

They are quiet, refined and have less idle clatter than is common among diesels.

Diesel power is set to drive BMW sales further over the next few months. In the past five years since introducing oil-burning engines to its fleet in Australia the German brand has increased the proportion of diesel sales to 34 per cent.

A number of new diesel BMW 1 and 3 Series models, including the first BMW diesel convertibles, will hit the market in December followed by a diesel 5 Series Gran Turismo in March and two diesel X1 models in April.

BMW Australia product communications manager Tim James said he expected the proportion of diesel sales in the fleet would increase with the new models. The 1 Series is currently one-third diesel, but in December BMW will add the 118d hatch and convertible in six-speed auto and manual with prices starting from $42,170.

The 118d Sports Hatch is the 2008 World Green Car of the Year with its two-litre four-cylinder turbo diesel engine developing 105kW of power, 300Nm of torque, but sipping fuel at 4.5 litres per kilometre and emitting 119g of CO2 per kilometre. It will feature in its twin-turbo format in the 123d hatch, coupe and convertible with prices starting at $50,790 and going up to $69,480.

However, it does not attract the luxury car tax because the two-litre twin turbo's fuel economy is well below the 7L/100km requirement for exemption. Depending on the vehicle, it returns economy figures of 5.2 to 5.4L/100km while delivering 150KW and 400Nm. The single turbo two-litre diesel also arrives in the 320d Touring, Coupe and Convertible in December with prices from $61,500.

The 3 Series Coupe and Convertible also get the three-litre diesel straight six used elsewhere in the fleet with prices from $91,900 and in the new 5 Series GT coming in March with prices starting from about $140,000.

BMW's smallest SUV arrives in April in diesel guise only. The X1 xDrive20d uses the two-litre, four-cylinder diesel and the xDrive23d uses the twin-turbo engine. James said a 1.8 diesel engine was also being considered for the X1.

Diesel penetration in BMW cars is highest in the 5 Series with almost 50 per cent now diesel and the 520d the volume seller, James said. It is followed by the 1 Series with one-third and the 3 Series with 17 per cent. James said diesel was even making inroads in the 7 Series. "The 730d was launched in June and already signs are it will become the volume model," he said.

The car returns fuel economy figures of 7.2L/100km, but from this month, new production models will achieve 6.8L/100km and not attract the luxury car tax. James said this was already factored into the pricing, saving buyers $5000. BMW now has 21 cars with fuel economy less than 7L/100km.

The X models have been the real winners for diesel. James said diesel represented 85 per cent of X3 sales and 80 per cent of X5 sales, while petrol was the most popular choice among X6 owners.


BMW supplied a 118d hatch, 123d hatch and convertible and 330d coupe for test through Bavaria last week. With a mix of autobahn, country road and tight village lane driving, each returned fuel economy figures on their on-board computers similar to official claims.

At 200km/h on the autobahn, even the 118d three door (we will get the five-door) still felt like it had more to give, the diesels not only having low-end grunt but plenty of meat throughout the rev range.

They are quiet, refined and have less idle clatter than is common among diesels. But it's the twin-turbo model that really stands out, sounding and feeling more like a petrol engine with its free revving and mid-to-top-end power. Handling is not adversely affected by the extra weight of the engines, although steering may be marginally heavier.

The manual models feature auto stop-start which cuts the engine when it is stationary and in neutral, starting again when the clutch is pushed in. While this same function feels rough in the new X1 and Mini diesel, it feels much smoother here, maybe because of the engine positioning.

James said the auto stop-start function had not yet been engineered for automatic transmissions, but they were working on it. The six-speed manual gearboxes feature well-chosen ratios, although first is a little short and sixth will be wasted in Australia where the highway maximum speed limit is 110km/h.

(From December)
118d Sports Hatch (6-speed manual) $42,170
118d Sports Hatch (6-speed steptronic auto) $44,370
123d Sports Hatch (man) $50,790
123d Sports Hatch (auto) $53,070
123d Coupe (man) $57,900
123d Coupe (auto) $60,180
118d Convertible (man) $52,900
118d Convertible (auto) $55,019
123d Convertible (man) $67,200
123d Convertible (auto) $69,480
320d Executive Touring $61,500
320d Coupe $67,500
320d Convertible $80,400
330d Coupe $91,900
330d Convertible $104,850
From March)
530d Gran Turismo from about $140,000
From April)
X1 xDrive20d and xDrive23d from low $50,000s


Pricing guides

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Range and Specs

135i 3.0L, PULP, 6 SP AUTO $16,700 – 23,320 2009 BMW 1 Series 2009 135i Pricing and Specs
120d 2.0L, Diesel, 6 SP AUTO $8,100 – 12,540 2009 BMW 1 Series 2009 120d Pricing and Specs
135i Sport 3.0L, PULP, 6 SP AUTO $15,100 – 21,230 2009 BMW 1 Series 2009 135i Sport Pricing and Specs
125i 3.0L, PULP, 6 SP AUTO $11,000 – 16,170 2009 BMW 1 Series 2009 125i Pricing and Specs
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