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MOTORING: Refined – Inside out

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BMW 340i

Time flies, they say, so the latest facelift to the BMW F30 3 Series should have been anticipated. It feels like just a few months ago I wrote  the review on the newly launched, much-anticipated, all-new BMW 3 Series (also known as the F30). That being said, the facelift of the BMW F30 3 Series is here in South Africa and many are on the road already.

At first glance you seem to notice subtle changes like the larger grill and full-red rear-light clusters. On closer inspection you notice the bumpers look a lot more refined and the headlights look larger. Giving the vehicle a fresher look, the biggest change is the LED lighting, which now has two half circles with a line extending towards the grill as opposed to the traditional twin circles of the previous 3 Series. On the inside there have also been changes in the colour combinations. The dashboard colour can now be selected for the bottom half or top section in two different colours. Making it feel bigger and longer, the test car came with a light interior colour and the lower section of the dash board matched the leather seats The cabin feels roomier and the trimmings have also been refreshed. The wood grain in the test vehicle felt like I was in a premium Rolls-Royce and not a mid-sized sedan. Overall the dash-and-drop-down centre console looks cleaner and more refined.

So what is the biggest change to the new 3 Series? Well, it’s the engine line-up. The top of the range was a 335i, which was a three-litre, six-cylinder turbo-charged motor. The facelift now has a 340i, which still has a three-litre, six-cylinder turbo-charged motor but it produces more power and feels a lot more refined. This new nameplate is not just on the 340, the 328 has also been changed to a 330 badge.

So how has the changes affected the drive of the vehicle? Indulge me … As you make yourself comfortable behind the leather-bound sports steering wheel and push the start-stop button, you feel a growl undertone as the engine comes to life. This quickly settles to nothing more than a hum. Select a gear and depress the accelerator slowly as you feel the car take off like a typical luxury sedan. It’s quiet and luxurious with a hint of sportiness. In this mode you can cruise around and even use the car on a daily basis to go to work. Once you find an open road and select ’Sport’, this changes. The suspension stiffens and so too does the steering wheel. More importantly, the engine seems to wake up as the hum is ever so slightly more audible. Depress the accelerator and all hell breaks loose – the rear wheels whine as they try to grip the road, you get shoved what feels like metres back into your seat, and the vehicle rockets off into the sunset. Enough about nameplates, badges and power: has the facelift made a difference to the ever-popular 3 Series? In a simple word, yes. The 340 in particular is what I would dub a wolf in sheep’s clothing. The only hint of its power is the badge and the twin tail pipes (one on each side). The next hint you get is when the car is hundreds of metres ahead of you and you have your foot depressed to the floor in what you think is a hot hatch.

Overall, hats off to BMW for improving a vehicle that we all thought was near perfect.

Engine: 3,0 ℓ  6-cylinder Twin-Turbo

Power: 240 kW

Torque: 450 Nm

0–100 km/h: 5.1 Seconds

Fuel: Average 6,5 l /100 km

CO2: 152 g/km

Price: From R686 000

 

Opel Adam rocks

I am not one to start by commenting on the name of a vehicle, but this particular one is very interesting, and personally – I think it is a genial marketing strategy. The Opel Adam – which we have tested previously – is now pretty well known in South Africa and around the world. Opel have now added an open-top version and instead of calling it an open top they call it ‘Rocks’. Which if you put it all together, effectively you are saying the Opel Adam Rocks … pure genius.

Opel call this a crossover vehicle, but that does not mean that it can go off-road in any way, shape or form. Instead this vehicle just has black plastic wrapped around the lower section of the body, giving the car a unique look to the normal Adam. The car looks chunkier and a lot sportier. The rear bumper now has angular lights for the rear fog and reverse lights as opposed to the circular ones on the normal Adam. From the side, the wrap-around plastic accentuates the wheel arches, once again adding to the sporty look. In front, like with the rear, gone are the circular fog lights and in with the angular lights. This, together with the full-black lower bumper, completes the look. The finishing touch is the rotary-looking 18-inch wheels that fill the wheel arches so perfectly. The black roof top hides the black canvas top that opens at the touch of a button.

Unlike its competitors, Opel were happy with just having the top section open, so there are no fold-down panels or removable parts, just a fold-away roof that works seamlessly and effortlessly. In keeping with the Adam’s tradition, the dashboard and finishes are of high quality and are unique. The seats, too, have a mesh pattern on them, and Opel state that they have been specifically designed to support your back. The front seats are spacious and feel good; the rear is meant for short trips or small people as the leg room is a tad bit on the small side and getting in and out takes some contortionism. As this is the ‘Rocks’ version it would not be complete without a rocking sound system, and this car has it. It comes standard with an infinity sound system and a subwoofer and box in the boot, which sounds amazing, but you have to pay the price for this. I am not only talking of the actual price of the car, but rather the loss of boot space. The ‘Rocks’ has enough boot space for your laptop bag and a knapsack before it reaches capacity, though you can drop the seats and load bigger items if need be. Also, there is no spare wheel, but there is a repair kit with compressor for those unforeseen mishaps.

On the road the car feels solid and stable, even on the highway at 120 km/h. The one distraction though is the slight wind noise from the rag top. When cruising around in the brilliant Gauteng autumn weather with the roof open and the sun in your hair, that’s when it all comes together and the car makes perfect sense. To add to this, thanks to the wild colour options (the test vehicle was a gold/yellow/olive) you are bound to be noticed. All in all I think Opel do have a winner in the Adam Rocks, barring its price tag, which pushes it into a league of bigger vehicles. The 1,0-litre engine is strong and frugal, which is almost a perfect combination. So all that’s left to say is that this Opel Adam ‘rocks’!

Engine: 1,0 ℓ 3-cylinder Turbo

Power: 85 kW

Torque: 170 Nm

0–100 km/h: N/A

Fuel: Average 5,0 /100 km

CO2: 115 g/km

Price: From R287 100

AUTHOR | Torque Talk is a member of SAGMJ