What is the best “normal” car you can buy? It needs to be practical as it is an everyday driver, fuel efficient, desirability, great performance (not exclusively speed), and feel special and under £30,000. Autocar have looked at this very question and it makes for an interesting read. They compare the benchmark BMW 3 Series 320d, against the Range Rover Evoque, Skoda Superb Estate, VW Golf GTD and to see if a bit more money is worth it a Mercedes Benz E220 CDI. Good mix of potential rivals for the BMW.
Full review here (estimated reading time 5 minutes), summary below.
On paper all three cars are circa £30k, which seems to be a level you can get a superb car that has everything required. The Skoda and VW come in cheaper, while the RR and Merc are around the 320d price range.
The new BMW 3 Series divides opinion with its looks, however no one can deny its simply outstanding drive and performance. This is what makes it the benchmark to beat. The 320d is what most people would say is the standard 3 Series diesel, and Autocar make the point of showing just how far BMW have moved the game on in just 10 years. The 320d at the turn of the millennium had 136BHP, 49MPG and 0-60 in 9.6s (Source/Parkers). However this latest model does 7.5s to 60 and nearly 62MPG, all in a much quieter, better sounding refined way. It is leagues ahead of the competition. If you are a petrol fan, the 320i does 0-60 in 7.1 with 44MPG and 181BHP compared to 8.1s, 167BHP and 30MPG. Impressive numbers and that does not include the huge drop in road tax prices due to vastly improved co2 emissions.
These figures leave the rivals in the shade on paper, however Autocar praise the Range Rover Evoque for sheer desirability. It drives so well for a chunky looking thing, and where as no one will bat an eyelid at the 3 Series, for now at least the Evoque is a real head turner. The interior is “great fun to be in and has the virtue of being very different”.
The others, well the Skoda Superb is a huge amount of car and if you aren’t a badge snob you can’t go far wrong. The Golf GTD is superb but too expensive in this trim. £28k is too much for a diesel Golf, and a better match is a cheaper version with the same 170BHP engine. The Mercedes is vast and will give you all the prestige you need, 50MPG and is quick, but it is too “old-mannish” with the interior. I personally think the E Class is a great looking car and is considerable value at just £4k more than the Golf.
What is you favourite real world car? What other car’s should be considered? Would you go for a second hand previous generation 320d and save £15,000? Maybe this is the main rival to the new 320d… thoughts?