10 Nov 2012

Living with - BMW 320d Msport Touring

BMW 320d Msport Touring, 2007

Owner - Colin and Sarah Hubbard


We ran a 2001 4.6 V8 Range Rover for a while but decided to change due to the ridiculous fuel economy and that I was always convinced it was going to blow a head gasket due to the weird smell from the engine bay. Much to it's credit the head gasket never failed and it turned out to be a very reliable car. This time we were after a car which would be good on fuel (not difficult to beat 12mpg!!) and greater perceived reliability.

We have had Audis in the past but found this 2007 BMW Touring on budget that filled most of the tick boxes. It was black, was the Msport model, had the upgraded 18 inch BMW alloy wheels, leather heated seats and privacy glass. The Msport option box has more defined bumpers, a rear spoiler, side skirts, sports suspension, front sports seats and a thicker sports steering wheel


Its common knowledge that BMWs make great driving cars, they focus a lot of attention to making balanced rear wheel drive cars and this one doesn’t disappoint. Being the Msport version means uprated dampers, lowered springs and various other changes in the oily department and this car really handles like a large a go-kart. The chunky steering wheels relays a raft of information as to what the front wheels are doing and the road surface you are travelling on, the suspension does a fantastic job of soaking up bumps while controlling the body and the brakes are sharp and bring the car to a stop quickly and safely. The car is very stable at higher speeds and inspires confidence to crack on, when the kids aren’t in of course!

When we first got the car it had run flats on the front and non runflats on the rear but as the fronts were on their way out decided to change to none runflats to match the rears. The handling and feel was drastically improved as the non runflats are lighter and have move give in the sidewalls so give a more pliable ride and are a letting the suspension do its job more easily. I would recommend making the change to non runflats when yours are worn out, not only do they save you a considerable amount of money but the ride and handling are so much better. A word of caution, check that it doesn’t invalidate your warranty as I have heard stories in the past that BMW wouldn’t touch a Mini with non run-flats.

The engine is rated at 163bhp and 251 Ib/ft torque and gives reasonable performance hitting 60mph in 8.6 seconds and has a top speed of 139mph although I can’t confirm the latter figure. Being an oil burner theres good midrange torque and overtakes smoothly and efficiently.

The gearbox has the usual BMW awkwardness to select first gear but when going it has a positive intuitive shift through its 6 forward gears.

The driving position is outstanding and like chalk and cheese compared to the Range Rover, I have finally found a car I can get the seat low enough to suit me, the steering wheels is fantastically chunky although critisised in the motoring press for this and the instruments are well laid out and controls are easily at hand.

General ownership experience

The quality and feel of the car is good, not quite Audi standards but a small price to pay for the dynamic advantages. The leather seat facings and high quality and the plastics on the dash are quality items and stand up well to wear and tear of the kids and the dog.

The seats are very comfortable and have electric side bolsters but I have to have them on the maximum width due to being big boned (stop laughing). Sarah loves the heated seat facility and they do heat up quickly and evenly.

Interior space is not great, the inside feels like it is only at 4/5’s the size it should be, its sufficient if not ample. Being a sporty estate means a fairly low roof line so our Labrador has to bend her neck slightly in the boot, a small price to pay for good looks.

The privacy glass makes the rear seats feels claustrophobic and a bit of a nightmare when reversing as the window openings are not massive.

My only annoyance with the car is the self cancelling indicators, they are an electronic connection and do not always cancel when making small steering wheel movements so when you press the indicator stork to turn it off it puts the other side on. Ahhh, think I need to practice a little more.

Servicing and costs

I used to keep up service history with manufacturers but am noticing a trend towards second hand cars coming to market without and since the value doesn’t massively change then thought not to bother for this car. I priced the oil up to change myself and found it was much much cheaper to take to National tyres for an oil service at £39 and they used the correct oil for the car which is Castrol edge.

This car is very cheap to run, due to it being a modern Diesel the car return about 45mpg running around and over 50mpg on a motorway. Car tax is £170 per year due to its low emissions. The Insurance group is 14 so our premium if just under £300 a year.

We have had absolutely no problems or faults with the car and are very happy with its running costs.

Reliability and Faults

Nothing has broken or gone wrong yet but I have heard some horror stories over two items on BMW Diesel engined cars.

Firstly the swirl flaps which are located on the inlet manifold can fall apart and the consequences are bits of metal going through the engine and destroying it. A company called PMC offer blanking plates to remove the swirl flaps which give piece of mind that the engine isn’t going to self destruct. The are about £80 for 4 and do not affect performance or MOT emissions.

Secondly the Diesel Particulate Filter can get clogged up and put the engine on limp home mode. One solution is to remove it but special software is required as the car needs fooling into think it is in place. I wouldn’t opt for this unless the filter actually clogged.

Overal Impressions and recommendations

We love the car, yes its not as big as it could be but it goes so well and looks fantastic in black with the optional 18 inch alloys.

Would I recommend the car?  Oh yes, they are well worth a test drive and I would also recommend the Msport models as they hold their value better than non Msport models.

Article by Colin Hubbard