Published September 20, 2012
By Jeff Cobb
A version of the 320d is expected in US dealers by spring 2013.
This year the influential British car publication, WHATCAR? named its Green Car of the Year as – not a hybrid, not an electric vehicle, not a plug-in hybrid – but rather a diesel, the BMW 320d Efficient Dynamics sedan.
Last year the range-extended electric Vauxhall Ampera won the Green Award, and its name still resides on the site’s home page as of this writing, but when one clicks “Vauxhall Ampera Green Awards winner,” up pops the updated winner, the diesel 3-Series.
No doubt they’ll fix that link soon enough, but what’s so special about the oil-burning BMW to WHATCAR?
“If anyone had told you as little as five years ago that you could buy a BMW 3 Series that would hit 60 mph in less than eight seconds, average the best part of 60 mpg (in the real world) and emit less than 110g/km of CO2, you’d have been carted off to the funny farm,” wrote WHATCAR, “Yet, here we are, looking at a model that does all that – and more. The beauty of the 320d Efficient Dynamics is that it lets you go green without compromises."
The publication understands plug-in cars are more likely candidates for “green” awards, but the BMW 320d makes 163 horsepower, 265 pound-feet of torque, offers “class-leading balance of ride and handling," lots of back seat space, and efficiency specs according to WHATCAR are CO2: 109g/km; NOx: 171 mg/km; Particulates: 0.1mg/km; Average economy: 68.9 mpg.
The 320d also got some consideration for the fact that it incurs the least company car tax among 3-Series for UK fleet operators.
In short, the editors were impressed by a wide range of attributes that define a very competent car, including relatively low emissions, high mpg, and it has already been an enthusiasts' favorite for a few years now.
BMW North America has confirmed a variant of the 320d will be available next year in the North American market.
"A 2.0-liter turbo diesel will appear here in the 3 Series sedan in spring 2013 as the first in our next stage of BMW Advanced Diesel models for the U.S.." said David Buchko, product and technology communications.
Whether the car is called a "320d" or something else is not certain, and appears unlikely. The nearly 69 mpg and low emissions mentioned above is naturally from the more-lenient European test cycle, and the EPA mileage will undoubtedly be lower, but it is believed the gains of this U.S. diesel will offer proportional improvements over comparably sized BMW gasoline engines.