2014 BMW 328d xDrive Wagon Long-Term Update 1
Ultimate Driving What, Exactly?
While driving the 328d, I sometimes wonder about BMW's longstanding ad tag line. Just how is a diesel wagon supposed to be an ultimate driving anything? Even more curious: Why do I enjoy driving it so much?
It's puzzling, because driving the 328d involves none of the things you'd typically associate with thrilling driving: massive power, screaming exhaust, power slides, and so on. I actually enjoy driving it slowly, just tooling around town with that huge sunroof open. It seems more appropriate.
Quick, it isn't. Sure, the turbo 2.0-liter makes 280 lb-ft, but it's saddled with power-sapping all-wheel drive and 3901 pounds of car. Yet, the delivery of that torque -- a sweet surge starting around 2000 rpm -- at part throttle is pleasant in traffic, and it makes the powertrain feel stronger than it is. Everyone who's ridden passenger in it has been impressed with the power.
It doesn't sing while it revs, but nor is the diesel sound ugly or intrusive. For a while I thought the clatter at idle was the car's big tell. I later walked by an idling gas-drinking 328i, and the clatter from its direct injection system sounded about the same.
You wouldn't expect a wagon to yearn for apexes and lap times, but the 328d enjoys corners. The ride makes a happy compromise between soft and stiff, and the dampers control most impacts well. Toggling Sport or Sport+ modes increases the stiffness, but ultimately feels superfluous. While I haven't driven a 328d equipped with all-season tires, it's easy to credit the Bridgestone summer tires for good steering response and road behavior. (We'll try a different set during our ownership.)
Two of the best driving attributes are inside the car: The seats and steering wheel. The $3850 M Sport package upgrades them both, and that money is well spent. The seats are comfortable, supportive, and offer a nice range of adjustments. They seem like the kind of seat that won't fatigue you during a long drive. The steering wheel feels great, too. The materials are nice to touch, and the controls are easy to use.
Combined, we have a good-looking car that drives pleasantly, with an enjoyable powertrain and nice tools in the interior with which to pilot it. "Ultimate" may be a touch hyperbolic, but the driving experience of this machine can be can enjoyed every day, even if it's just to the office.
More on our long-term 2014 BMW 328d xDrive Wagon: