Recently we were able to get our hands on a diesel powered 2014 BMW 328d  F30 for a two week test drive. A sticker price of $44,000, it would take a while for the 45 freeway mpg, 37 combined mpg to put back the difference in fuel cost back in your pocket. Eco Pro Mode, Comfort Mode, and Sport Modes change the characteristics makes a noticeable change in throttle response, transmission shift points.

A 2-liter four cylinder turbo charged diesel engine developing 180 horsepower and 280 lb-ft of torque provides more than adequate punch for Los Angeles traffic. While the well tuned 8 speed ZF transmission shifts at lightning speeds.

F30 328d Power-train Impressions:

In Eco Pro Mode, once the engine is up to optimum operating temperature, and the auxiliary battery is charged, the Start/Stop feature kicks in at idle with the brake pedal depressed at stop. I must admit that it feels out of this world at first, but after driving the car for two weeks, you start realizing how much fuel is being saved at idle with the car off. Eco Pro Mode turns on the Start/Stop feature, allows faster transmission shift points, reduced throttle response. Additionally, it provides almost resistance free coasting, to the point where you have to use the brake pedal more than usual, as engine braking is not present. Comfort Mode is the best of both worlds, fuel savings with a hint of performance. Sport Mode turns off the Start/Stop feature, extends transmission shift points, holding onto lower gears longer, transforming the car’s behavior 360 degrees from Eco Pro mode.

F30 328d in Action:

We drove the 328d to BMW Day at Super Car Sunday in Woodland Hills California. Even though we parked in a normal parking spot and the car wasn’t a classic BMW, nor an M-model, certain individuals noticed the “d” on the trunk lid.

After the event, we headed out to some canyon roads near Mulholland drive following a Porsche  911 (996) Carrera with GT3 suspension and light weight wheels, an E30 BMW  and GTI following from behind. Throughout hill climbs, the 328d kept up well with the 911. At some point when the street tires became warm, the weight of the F30 became evident as the car started pushing and riding on the sidewall of the tire on a couple occasions. Even in Sport Mode, the ZF 8 speed felt slow to downshift come out of corners, even staying in 3rd gear at times. Overall, the car is very well balanced, easy to drive, and well composed. Obviously a different wheel and tire package would make a huge difference.

Down hill, the 328d was not as confidence inspiring. A much lighter yet less powerful BMW 318is with upgraded E36 M3 steering rack and stock suspension was much easier to drive.

F30 328d  Complaints:

The F30 feels very large, more like an E39 5-Series rather than a 3-Series. If you’re used to a sporty car, you better tick option sheet for a sport package, and maybe add some BMW Performance parts, as the car in base trim doesn’t feel sportier than your standard 4 door sedan. Navigation system with Google Maps comes in very handy with one complaint being that the NAV doesn’t point out diesel fuel stations from regular gasoline only fuel stations.

F30 328d Verdict:

Thumbs up to BMW for bringing the 2014 328d to the US market. Buy or lease one if you’re in the market for an entry luxury car with great driving dynamics, great fuel mileage, an immense amount of (highly tunable) torque and great looks.