Jill Fehrenbacher

Inhabitat Test-Drives the New BMW 328D Diesel Wagon

by , 10/18/13


BMW 328D Diesel Sedan, Jill Fehrenbacher, New York City , testdrive, test drive, test-drive, diesel car, biodiesel, bio-diesel, clean diesel, green diesel, east river, Long Island City, Queens, Greenpoint, Inhabitat test drive, green car

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.

BMW 328D Diesel Sedan, Jill Fehrenbacher, New York City , testdrive, test drive, test-drive, diesel car, biodiesel, bio-diesel, clean diesel, green diesel, east river, Long Island City, Queens, Greenpoint, Inhabitat test drive, green car

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.

BMW 328D Diesel Sedan, Jill Fehrenbacher, New York City , Head Up display, heads up display, windshield projection, google-glass display, testdrive, test drive, test-drive, diesel car, biodiesel, bio-diesel, clean diesel, green diesel, east river, Long Island City, Queens, Greenpoint, Inhabitat test drive, green car

HEADS UP!

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)…

BMW 328D Diesel Sedan, Jill Fehrenbacher, New York City , Head Up display, heads up display, windshield projection, google-glass display, testdrive, test drive, test-drive, diesel car, biodiesel, bio-diesel, clean diesel, green diesel, east river, Long Island City, Queens, Greenpoint, Inhabitat test drive, green carThe 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!

+ BMW 328D

+ Car and Driver Review

+ BMW Heads Up Display

BMW 328D Diesel Sedan, Jill Fehrenbacher, New York City , testdrive, test drive, test-drive, diesel car, biodiesel, bio-diesel, clean diesel, green diesel, east river, Long Island City, Queens, Greenpoint, Inhabitat test drive, green car

BMW 328D Diesel Sedan,  New York City , testdrive, test drive, test-drive, diesel car, biodiesel, bio-diesel, clean diesel, green diesel, east river, Long Island City, Queens, Greenpoint, Inhabitat test drive, green car
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8 Comments

  1. Debi Wong May 23, 2014 at 8:42 pm

    In regard’s to Mark’s comment, I just took delivery on the 328d last week and the interior of the author’s vehicle excluding the “heads up” glass feature looks exactly like mine. Love the car, obviously as a brand new engine, not getting top mileage but pretty close to an average of 40 mpg combined city and highway mileage (and a fair amount spent 65-75 mph). Took it to Mt. Hood, last May snow day and it handled very well. Too many folks got used to spring bare roads driving conditions and there were vehicles in the ditch both coming up and coming down the mountain. Definitely a 5 star, would have liked manual, said from a female boomer!

  2. npooty October 29, 2013 at 4:08 pm

    “Another exciting idea for the future is to imagine a hybrid diesel / electric engine.”

    FYI to the author, the Euro spec Volvo V60 is a plug-in hybrid turbo diesel. It’s super efficient, has even more power than the 328d, and the same utility since it’s a wagon. Unfortunately, when the V60 makes it stateside, we don’t get that drive train. Actually, we don’t get the diesel or a hybrid V60. We’re stuck with only gas variants of the V60. How lame is that?

  3. tstone October 24, 2013 at 10:18 am

    I\’ve owned a 328d wagon for three weeks and I love it. It is easily the best car I\’ve ever owned. I\’ve been waiting for years for a high mileage all wheel drive car. We get a lot of snow here so the all wheel drive will be great. I\’ve got about 1000 miles on I\’ve averaged 43.6 mpg in mixed driving. My wife has a Prius which we love but it is not really a fair comparison. The 328d is really a sports car with great acceleration and awesome handling and loads of technology. Extremely quiet, comfortable and a real pleasure to drive. I\’ve rediscovered the fun of driving. The Prius is also an excellent car and it does get better mileage (she gets about 48 mpg) but the driving experience is not remotely the same.
    Also, I agree that the head-up display is great. It is one of those features that I wasn\’t too sure about when I ordered it but now I\’d never get a car without one. However, your readers should know that it is part of an extra cost option package, not every 328d has it.

  4. Taylor A. October 21, 2013 at 11:59 am

    Lol! In no way is this 328d more fuel efficient than a Prius. First you claim that its highway MPG rating is higher than a Prius at 45 MPG but the Prius is actually rated for 46 MPG highway. Then you fail to mention that the 328d only has a 32 MPG rating for city, compared to the Prius which has a 53 MPG city rating. All of that is just how it’s rated. What about actual MPG results from real drivers? Lets turn to Fuelly.com for those numbers. On fuelly the 2014 328d is getting a repectable average of 41.7 MPG from all drivers (http://www.fuelly.com/car/bmw/328d). However that is 10 MPG short of the average 2013 Prius C which comes in at 51 mpg (http://www.fuelly.com/car/toyota/prius%20c). Is the 328d an expensive luxery car that gets decent MPG? Sure it is. Is it a break through in efficiency and engineering? Not even close.

  5. David Lazar October 21, 2013 at 8:17 am

    Why the US doesn’t get smaller diesel engines, 328D is still a big thirsty car. Normally with BMW in Europe you would go for 1.8 litre diesel or something similar. Americans also drive much slower, speed limit is lower, so I don’t get it: why the big engines?

  6. Maleko Mark October 17, 2013 at 4:01 pm

    What vehicle did u drive (was it European) because the dash in your pictures do not match the ugly dash we get in North America (and the main reason why I would not buy one)?

  7. TheFrog October 16, 2013 at 6:54 am

    And don’t forget to mention that diesel exhaust has (finally) been declared carcinogenic by the WHO (http://www.who.int/bulletin/volumes/90/7/12-010712/en/). As I’m living in a country where ~70% of new cars are sold with a diesel engine I can assure you it stinks !

  8. Diane Pham Diane Pham October 15, 2013 at 11:18 am

    Wow, I had no idea you could get such great mileage on diesel!

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