BMW 320i (2009) BMW 320i Coupé (2009)
On paper there should not be much difference between both cars since both share the same engine/transmission and a number of specifications. Both cars are entry levels models in their respective categories. However, these two cars are designed differently, and the Coupé is more than just the Sedan with two doors. Here is a summary of some of the key differences I found in both cars.
For the driver and the front seat passenger, the Coupé offers more legroom than the Sedan and the entry into the vehicle is ‘easier’ than the Sedan. I did not notice this initially but over time I began to be ‘aware’ the shorter headroom of the Coupé. I would prefer more headroom as this gave a bit of a cramp feeling.
The Sedan is more practical if one has a family. The Coupé is able to have 2 other passengers in the rear but with a sloping roofline and limited legroom it may not be comfortable for adults.
The entry level 320i and the 320i Coupé both have good balance. Personally, I prefer the balance on the sedan due to its shorter length. Grip is better on the 320i Coupé which I think is due to better tyres. Had both cars been fitted with the same brand/type of tyres, I think the difference in tyre grip would not be so discernible.
The Coupé has better handling. Its steering felt more precise than the sedan. However, both cars had relatively ‘heavy’ steering feel especially at lower speeds. For the Coupé, parking required more adjustments due to its longer dimensions. Once you pick up speed the handling improves for both cars as the heaviness of the steering diminishes.
The spec sheet stated that the Coupé had better acceleration (0.1 sec faster than the sedan from 0-100km/h). This was confirmed in actual driving. Driving in full Auto, the gear changes in the Coupé was more fluid as you accelerate. The Sedan was more laidback in comparison.
Both cars are fitted with the same 4 cylinder 2.0 engine. This engine is not bad but lacks the refinement of the larger 6 cylinder engines in the BMW stable.
Difference in fuel consumption for both cars appears to be marginal. Every day driving with a mix of town and highway roads at full auto should consume around 10 liters per 100 km.
The Coupé is the sportier car. It has better response, handling and looks the part. The Sedan is the practical choice and is a fine entry model into 3 Series stable.
One other factor which might be of interest to some is the price difference between the two cars. In Malaysia, the 320i Coupé is sold at a RM53k (about USD15k) premium over the 320i Sedan! This is probably due to the duties, taxes and model specific premium levied on the Coupé which is a fully assembled/imported car. In all, it becomes a very personal decision whether the strengths/advantages of the Coupé can adequately justify this additional premium to be paid.