When BMW first approached me about test-driving their brand new clean diesel wagon, the 328D, my first response was “huh?” My only experience with diesel up until this point was getting stuck behind black-smoke-belching diesel 18 wheelers on the highway, and riding around in smog-filled diesel “Tuk-Tuks” (3 wheel taxis) in Nepal. But when I learned more about diesel, and read up on the 328D, I was impressed. Diesel engines are 20-40% more efficient than gasoline engines, meaning you can drive a lot farther on one tank of fuel. BMW’s 328D has the über-efficiency of a typical diesel engine, but is much cleaner than yesteryear’s diesel, with 14% less CO2 emissions than a typical gasoline engine and a highway MPG rating that is better than a Prius at 45mpg! The most impressive thing is that you can drive 675 miles on a single tank of fuel.
This last point was definitely the standout for me test-driving the 328D. I borrowed the car for 11 days, drove it over 350 miles, and didn’t even use up ½ a tank of fuel! I never had to refill the tank at all. It was so efficient that I don’t even know how hard or easy it is to find a diesel refueling station, since I never had any reason to seek one out! That alone was a big sell for me on the 328D.
The other thing that really impressed me – which has nothing to do with diesel whatsoever – was the incredible Google-Glass-esque ‘Heads Up’ display system that, apparently, is standard for BMWs. This awe-inspiring windshield glass display projects GPS directions and your vehicle’s speed right into the driver’s side windshield glass, so that the driver can easily follow navigation instructions and check the speed without ever taking eyes off the road. Here’s what it looked like for me (see below)…
The incredible windshield projection display that comes standard with all BMWs is called ‘Heads Up’ – it is AMAZING!
This sheer awesomeness of this feature is hard to explain in words, so I’ll let my photos (above) do the talking. I used this technology for GPS navigation every time I drove, and it was an incredibly useful and convenient experience to never have to think about directions or ask my husband. I think all cars should come standard with this future-forward, safety-saving technology, and it’s sort of mind-boggling to think that this stuff has been around for decades and BMW is the only automaker whose cars come standard with this feature.
Between the Heads Up projection display and the super efficient mileage of the car, I was impressed with the BMW 328D. If I was in the market for a new car, this would definitely make my short-list, alongside the pure electric and hybrid electric vehicles that I typically scope out for Inhabitat. Another interesting thing to note is that having a diesel car means you can use biodiesel fuel (blends containing cooking oil or other types of naturally occurring oil). Technically the BMW 328 can accept biodiesel blends up to B5 (5% biodiesel), although apparently this is not good for the engine and voids the warranty. Another exciting idea for the future is to imagine a hybrid diesel / electric engine. Just think what adding a chargeable electric battery would do to extend the already incredible range of 675 miles per tank!