BMW 325i SPORTS (2009) BMW 320i (2009)
Having driven both cars over an extended period of time, this is a general comparison of the two popular BMW 3 Series cars in Malaysia in terms of driving experience, excluding detailed references to technical specifications.
Both models have good balance. Both models come with wide tyres – tread width of 225mm (the 325i Sports has a wider 255mm tread width for the rear). This enabled both cars to have a firm grip on the road. At ‘normal’ cornering speeds, body roll was not discernable on either cars.
The 325i Sports is the heavier car and at times I felt it was a tad too heavy for a car of its dimensions. In contrast the 320i weight felt just right. The 325i Sports has a lower ride height which reduces its centre of gravity and giving a better grip and balance. The 325i Sports gave confidence that it could take corners faster with better balance compared to the 320i.
The 325i Sports steering offered the best balance. It felt more precise and was not too heavy nor too light. Although the 320i is the lighter car, its steering felt heavier and was less precise, and required slightly more effort to maneuver. The feeling of the heavier steering of the 320i will not be apparent if you continually drive the car over time. However, the difference can be felt if you do a direct A to B comparison.
Although the 320i has a lower power output compared to the 325i Sports, the former was a bit more responsive than the latter especially at the lower rpms. I suspect that the heavier weight of the 325i Sports may be a factor that ‘neutralised’ some of the higher power advantage of the car at the initial acceleration. However, once the cars pick up momentum, the 325i Sports was clearly the superior car with better pace.
The set up of both cars are on the harder side in part due to the runflat low profile tyres fitted and the suspension set up. Between the two, the 320i offers a better ride quality. The car’s set up appears to be able to strike a better balance of a hard set up yet giving sufficient comfort to driver/passengers going through less than ideal road conditions. Hence, the 320i set up is more suitable for the Malaysian urban roads which at times are uneven and less than ideal. The 325i Sports has a harder set up and any bumps and unevenness on the road can be easily felt, and may be a bit too harsh for some. Care is also required as the lower ride height on the 325i Sports, requires you to take high bumps and humps at slower speed.
Both are high quality vehicles which will appeal to car buyers targeting specific characteristics. The 325i Sports has higher levels of specifications and offer more excitement with better balance and handling. This car will appeal to those looking for high performance and do not mind the harder and harsher ride. The 320i offers slightly better response and better ride quality and appears to be a more practical choice for those looking for a balance between sporty and comfort.