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The Mercury Cars Guide : November 26th 2011
MERCURY ON SATURDAY 2--- Classifieds 62 300 400 • carsguide.com.au Saturday, November 26, 2011 92 Ford Falcon EB GL 3.9lt, 68,000kms, rare manual. 00 Hyundai Accent GL Hatch 1.5lt, manual, p/s, a/c, 138,000kms. 03 Toyota Camry Altise 3.0lt, manual, p/s, a/c, electrics, WOW. 03 Suzuki Ignis 5 door hatch 1.3lt, manual, p/s, a/c, low kms. 89 Ford Capri Convertible 1.6lt, manual, p/s, a/c, electrics, alloys, 191,000kms, very tidy. $3995 $6995 $6995 $3500 zest. 2483L www.thecarmart.com.au 6211 0566 14 Derwent Park Rd, Derwent Park Specialising in cars... Under$10,000 Easy on-site finance available call 6211 0564 02 Kia Spectra Hatch 1.8lt, manual, p/s, a/c, electrics, alloys, ONLY $3995 00 Ford Festiva Trio 1.3lt, manual, p/s, a/c, economical. $3250 85 Holden Gemini RB Sedan 1.5lt, manual, great road test. $800 $6995 99 Toyota Rav Max 4x4 2.0lt, manual, p/s, a/c, electric, alloys, top value. Peta Kennedy 0437 556 055 David Steer 0410 297 976 Todd Jackson 0419 514 956 98 Daihatsu Terios SX 4x4 1.3lt, manual, p/s, a/c, electrics, alloys, 140,000kms. 97 Proton Satria GL hatch 1.5lt, auto, a/c, 120,000kms. $3500 $6550 $3450 99 Holden Rodeo Tray 3.2lt, p/s, tow bar, good kms. $7995 Aspire and higher The car everyone used to want is now even more desirable firstname.lastname@example.org PAUL POTTINGER ONCE BMW's 3 Series was the car equated with almost but not quite affordable prestige. Now most who reach this social stratum buy a Mercedes-Benz. A year ago this month, unnoticed by all including Mercedes-Benz, its C-Class became Australia's best-selling mid-size imported car. It hasn't happened every month since but it occurs as often as not --- a German prestige car that starts just shy of $60,000 outsells, by as much as two to one, some excellent Asian imports starting at half its price. Entry executive sedans --- the C-Class and its longstanding BMW rival --- were once the cars we wanted but couldn't attain. Benz reckons some of its new custom comes from those who previously bought top-end Fords and Holdens. Not long ago, this was inconceivable. The bad news for BMW is that buyers for now aspire to the C, not the 3. The outgoing entry level 320i is the poorest car too much money can buy, so the new, sixth-generation 3 Series simply must not fail. BMW's people puckishly predict the model codenamed the F30, launched this week in Barcelona, will propel the 36-year- old model name back to No.1 here. If their ''sheer driving pleasure'' means a scintilla to prestige punters, it could do it by the width of its fat torque band. VALUE We can talk more intelligently of this in February when the first three of four new 3 Series models are released here. Initially there are sedans only. The diesel 320d starts the line-up followed by the 328i with the all-new M20 direct- injection turbo petrol four (to replace the much loved but now obsolete 325i) and, topping the range, the 335i turbo six. The entry 320i is about eight months off. This, we wager, will be worth the wait. Prices will be up slightly but, we're promised, with appreciably more fruit standard. The three major equipment lines are Sport, Modern and Luxury, with M Sport to come shortly thereafter. Of these, Modern is the ''newest'' with the most distinctive interior accents and trim. Essentially Sport means 18-inch wheels, bright stitching, tauter suspension and glossy black bits. Luxury adds chrome. All models get stop-start and Driving Experience Control, which enables you to switch ride comfort and throttle response between relaxed and alert. Eco Pro, which runs leanest, is standard in this set-up. Only Sport Plus mode, which disdains the electronic safety net, is optional. It will be worth waiting for the 320i, which uses a milder version of the 328i's twin-scroll turbo. Carsguide spent two days with the new 5 Series variant that uses this same engine tune. We think the entry car will not only be leagues ahead of the outgoing sluggard but also the sweet spot of the range. TECHNOLOGY There are no more free- breathing sixes but the direct- injection twin-scroll turbocharged four-cylinder is a stunner, a big-torquing yet revvin' to seven device with an output surpassing the fabled 3.0-litre six, all made accessible by that brilliantly intuitive auto (manuals will come only by special order). It wouldn't be a Bimmer if there wasn't a plethora of options. Of these, Variable Sports Steering --- a genuinely useful ratio quickener, unlike Active Steering --- is enjoyable but not essential. The full- colour head-up display is, once used, hard to do without. DESIGN Better. Much better, if a little too like the big brother 5 Series. Yet this isn't inapt given the 3 Series of today approaches the size of a Fiver of a decade ago. Inside, the 3's moved miles ahead of the outgoing device. Austerity is out, enhanced opulence is in. There's even space in the door bins. Those up front are ensconsed in a cockpit and rear passengers breathe easy, so long as there are two, not three. That said, the finish in our pre-production Sport wasn't perfect. SAFETY Vast claims are being made by the maker, such as this is the safest car in the history of its class. Suffice to say a five-star crash rating will follow. The formidable battery of active and passive life-saving measures is in place, superbly responsive yet forgiving dynamics being not the least. As ever, a Carsguide half-star is lost due to the absence of a spare tyre. Yes, run-flats are all very well but just try copping one out back of the black stump and see where that gets you. Nowhere in a hurry is where. In a car that screams to be driven far and wide, this just doesn't play. DRIVING You could drive the 328i tomorrow, having never set a foot on a BMW pedal, and feel instantly at home. Everything is weighted and positioned just as it should be. You could, like me, have driven every minor variant of every 3 Series of the past two generations and more besides, and feel immediately that the new 328i advances the game. It fits like a chamois glove. This is the genius of the 3 Series. It flatters the absolute beginner and enables the enthusiast. Throttle, brakes, 02 BMW 3 Series Cover story
November 19th 2011
December 10th 2011