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BMW 3-series as hire car – the all new BMW F30 model

During 2012-2013 the all new BMW 3-series will become one the most popular hire cars in the Premium Fullsize car hire group.

3-series Shape-up
BMW’s small bestseller saloon is of major importance for the Bavarian car maker, whose headquarters are located in Munich, Germany. All cylinders are fired up to make sure the all new 3-series becomes a winner of its class in 2012, where its main rivals are Mercedes C-Class and AUDI A4.

The BMW 3-series F30’s predecessor E90 was in production from 2005 to 2012 and proved a huge sales success in the UK and across Europe. It remains one of the most desired second hand cars in the UK, where it will usually be found in the top 3 of the most searched for used cars on UK Autotrader.

According to www.reliabilityindex.co.uk it is not just one of the most reliable cars to own, but also far cheaper to own and repair than other makes in its segment.

In the UK one of the most common 3-series to be found on the roads is the 4 cylinder 2.0 320d M-sport and SE. The evolution of BMW’s 4-cylinder 2.0 diesel with higher BHP output and better torque almost defeated the purpose of the BMW straight-6 which used to be the most popular choice with BMW owners.

New BMW 3-series 2012

Despite a brilliant “sound track” and impressive fuel economy for a high output 6-cylinder, the petrol BMW 325i, 330i and 335i enjoyed only very limited sales success in the UK. The BMW 325d, 330d and 335d diesels were far more popular but remain a rarity as a rental car.

Occasionally the BMW 4-cylinder petrol 318i and 320i may be available as hire cars. The 318i may lack a bit of torque compared to its diesel counterpart 318d, but it makes up for it with less chassis vibration and engine noise when driving in town. On a long run the 318i and 320i will easily exceed 50 mpg which isn’t just hugely impressive for medium sized petrol, but is in reality also fairly close to its diesel E90 brothers 318d and 320d.

When BMW employed chief designer Chris Bangle, he received huge criticism from BMW fans for his distinct new style of design also known as “Flame surface design”. Especially when the E90 design was revealed in 2004 many BMW fans thought it was lacking the sharp and dynamic design expected from BMW’s 3-series range. However, the new 3-series BMW 2012 appears more aggressive and sharply designed with a low “pointy nose” which brings your thoughts towards Maserati. The tail looks sharper and very much resembles that of the latest 5-series.

New BMW F30 – 3-series with style
BMW’s new 3 range is also known as the generation F30 chassis at BMW.

The F30 is a significant leap forward for BMW and its smallest saloon which by no means is a small car anymore.

With the introduction of the all new 3-series F30, BMW once again has one of the sharpest contenders in the small executive saloon class, where AUDI A4 and Mercedes C-Class also belong. In Germany it is now expected that the new 3-series will remain market leader in its class until the introduction of new A4 and C-class models. The new 3-series is the same height as its E90 predecessor, 9 cm longer yet one centimetre narrower.

The benefactors of the added length are the rear seat passengers. Arguably the rear seat space is similar to that of the BMW 5-series before the introduction of the E60 in 2004. Up until the introduction of the BMW F30 the largest of the 3 small luxury saloons was the A4 which may also be considered as the most cosmetically refined car.

The current A4 was rejuvenated slightly in 2011 with an exterior face lift, minor tweaks of the interior and more efficient and powerful engines. Like the Audi A4 hire car the Mercedes C-class also had a face lift in 2011 but the vehicle is essentially the same as before. W204 C-class was introduced in May 2007 whilst the AUDI A4 B8 version was introduced in 2008.

BMW now hold the advantage over its closest competitors in relation to the car hire companies, at least until 2014 where Mercedes is expected to launch its all new C-class. It is however rumoured that Audi are looking to push forward the introduction of the A4 to late 2013.

BMW 3-series model year 2012
In the UK the 2012 BMW 3-series was introduced in February 2012 at prices from 24,825 for the most basic version which is the 316d ES saloon.

The new 2012 3-series is a very accomplished compact prestige saloon, which comes with a sleek longer bonnet and more room for its rear seat passengers than its predecessor E90 / E91 generation 3-series model.

Backseat space BMW 3-series

Like its predecessor the F30 demonstrates superior handling in its class with even better refinement. On long motorway journeys it is more comfortable and composed than any earlier models. However, dedicated drivers might feel it lacks a bit of feedback from the steering.

In the UK the new 2012 F30 BMW comes in a variety of equipment versions, which may vary from other countries. From basic to high they are: ES, SE, Sport, Modern, Luxury and M Sport.

Traditionally the SE model (or equivalent outside UK) has been the most popular hire car 3-series due to low running cost and decent equipment level. However, namely AVIS UK has been known to use the E90 M Sport version despite a higher acquisition price tag.

Despite a £3,000 retail price difference, functionality and engine performance is identical on the F30 M Sport and SE. Additional features on the UK 3-series M Sport version compared to the SE are: M Sport body kit, M suspension, sport leather seats, 18” wheels, BMW shadow line pack and a few other minor cosmetic differences distinct to M Sport.

The BMW F30 still comes with run flat tyres which has been criticised for compromising the ride comfort, particularly on the M Sport where the tyre profile is lower (255/40 R18) and the suspension already firmer. In fact the stiffness of the E90 M Sport suspension was well known for knocking the wheels out of alignment causing increased and uneven tyre ware.

BMW equipment

BMW 3-series for hire - equipment combinations
3-series model year 2012 (F30) is available in a vast variety of engine and equipment combinations. The F30 has been introduced with 8 different engines out of which only 3 are petrol fuelled (320i, 328i, 335i), but more are to follow.

The previous 3-series diesel by far outsold the petrol in Europe, which means the F30 is now available in 5 different common-rail diesel versions: 316d, 318d, 320d, 320ed and 330d. Apart from the 6 cylinder 330d all the new diesels are based on the 1995cc 4 cylinder BMW engine block. The E90 as seen below in the Face-Lift LCI (Lifecycle Impulse 2008-2012) will still be seen on the roads as a hire car until 2014-2015.

BMW old model

The past 15 years German carmakers Mercedes, VW and AUDI have increased their focus on developing turbo diesel efficiency to compete with even the best petrol engines and BMW is no exception.

Occasionally car hire companies will advertise specific cars in their fleet as being diesels as more and more consumers put emphasis on fuel saving as well as the environment when renting cars. But due to product mix there is however no guarantee that a diesel hire car will be delivered upon collection when renting in the “Premium” and “Fullsize” groups – e.g. either Mercedes C180 Kompressor petrol or BMW 320d diesel could be delivered in the “Premium” car hire group.

2012 BMW 3-series – an environmentally friendly rental car
Competing for desirability with AUDI A4 and Mercedes C-Class in the company car segment, the new 2012 3-series has a joker up its sleeve. Not only has it grown in size, but fuel consumption has also improved not least thanks to weight reduction. The F30 saloon is 9 centimetres longer than E90 which means the length is now 4.62 metres.

Despite its increased size, extensive use of light weight materials means the 3-series has shed 40 kilograms of weight compared to E90. The 4 door saloon F30 has the following exact measurements: 4624 mm long, 1811mm wide and 1429mm high. Improved engines, aerodynamics and weight loss means that fuel economy is comparable with far smaller cars with smaller engines such as Vauxhall Corsa and Ford Fiesta on “extra urban” journeys.

The 3-series 320d ED (EfficiencyDynamic) only produce 109 grams of co2 per km, which means that 12 month road tax in the UK is only £20. This puts it in the same category as a Toyota Aygo, Citroen C1 or Peugeot 107 which are cars that weigh less than 2/3 of the BMW and have less than half the BHP on tap than the 320d ED. BMW 316d follows closely in vehicle tax band C, which is still only £30.

Such emission figures from a 1.5 tonne -140 mph+ saloon were almost unthinkable only a few years back. The 320d ED is claimed to cover up to 80.7 mpg and the 316d 72.4 mpg, though the 316d is more likely to be a favourite with the car rental companies as it comes with a £2,300 lower price tag than the 320d ED. For more detailed information about 3-series fuel consumption, please see the below fact sheet.

The 320i SE is expected to become the most frequent 3-series petrol rental car, which despite being the least powerful 3-series petrol, still has a 184 BHP 2.0 turbocharged engine. Hence it’s predicted that the less powerful 316d and 318d will be favoured by the car hire companies because of the cheaper insurance, road tax, not to mention less depreciation. When a less powerful and more frugal 3-series petrol is introduced the car rental groups will no doubt be ready to stock up.

BMW New Model - 3-series

Smaller engines for hire cars
To the disappointment of many fans of the BMW trademark straight six engine, only two versions remain in the 2012 F30 program as it’s had to make way for smaller and more fuel efficient 4 cylinder variations. Only the most powerful F30 3-series 335i and 330d are delivered with turbo charged 3 litre 6-cylinder engines.

During 2013 BMW is expected to introduce the F30 and F32 M3 with a new 3.3 turbocharged straight-6 petrol power plant. These 6-cylinder performance petrol engines will however not be available from mainstream car hire providers due to high insurance premiums and far higher running costs. Likewise the 258 BHP 330d will be an exceptionally rare occurrence as a rental car.

Luggage space in the new BMW F30 3-series hire car
Not only does the new 2012 BMW 3-series offer more space to its passengers it also comes with a larger boot. Luggage capacity in the boot has increased by 20 litres to 480 litres. In the larger and more luxurious 5-series saloon the luggage capacity is 520 litres, which only leaves 40 litres of extra room for the holiday suitcases. Below is a picture of luggage space 3-series hire car lightly packed.

BMW 3-series trunk space

Rent a cheap BMW in Germany
Germany is not only one of the countries where there is a high occurrence of the BMW 3-series rental car, but rates are usually also very reasonable. We have found BMW 3-series available from around £40 per day from Munich Airport. We have also seen 3-series car hire from AVIS Rent-a-car in Hamburg from around £38 per day when booking through www.find-cheap-car-hire.co.uk .

Mostly, daily rates for a 3-series car hire in the UK are around £100, though we have come across attractive offers in Gatwick and Birmingham airports where the daily rental rates for BMW 3-series were between £58-£60.

Rent a diesel powered BMW
BMW’s production of high powered diesels really started to make headlines in 1999, where the E46 3-series 320d and 330d diesels were introduced. Especially the 2.9 litre 330d with 184 bhp impressed with a torque of 390 Nm which at the time exceeded that of the mighty Porsche 911 Carrera. Not only did the 330d pull, it also outperformed all other diesels and most petrol saloons in its class.

In 2004 the 2.9 litre straight six was revised and cylinder displacement increased to 3.0 litres increasing the 330d’s output by 20 BHP to 204 and 410 Nm.

For car hire, the smaller 2.0 litre diesels were always the preferred choice of the rental companies.

The initial output was 136 bhp on the 1999 E46, second evolution was introduced in 2001 and had 150 bhp. In 2005 the E90 was introduced and 320d was again boosted to up to 163 BHP, then 177 BHP in 2007 and eventually 184 BHP in 2011. In 2005 the 122 bhp 318d was added to the model program which in 2007 was boosted 143 bhp. In connection with the LCI Facelift 316d was introduced with 116 bhp.

Despite different power and emission output all three engines are build on the same engine block only with different turbo pressure and engine management.

Regardless of engine choice, the BMW is a very well executed compact luxury saloon, which handles well and is inexpensive to own. When the F30 was road tested by journalists during spring 2012, one of the only criticisms were straight line stability at very high motorway speeds. Evidently this criticism is relative to the AUDI A4 and Mercedes C-Class.

BMW 330 diesel as F1 hire car
Just before the new millennium one of Britain’s most talented racing drivers became an F1 driver for the Williams-BMW team. His name was Jenson and he would become F1 World Champion about 10 years later.

Being a formula driver a decent every day road car should be a given for Jenson. Ironically, due to his young age, insurance proved a constant challenge for Mr. Button whenever he required car hire of a half decent standard. During a stay in France Jenson Button could only qualify for a diesel hire car and as a Williams BMW driver only a BMW diesel would be adequate.

Jenson was handed the keys for a 330d which proved the racing driver worthy after he was caught speeding by the French police doing 143 mph in his diesel rental car. In the year 2000 French speeding tickets were only moderate considering the offence, which meant Jenson was let off the hook after having paid a £500 speeding fine.

If Jenson was caught for the same offence today, the penalty would no doubt have been a different matter. Such speed offences in France would today result in an immediate 3 month ban from driving in France plus points on a UK licence.

See more about speeding in France

To mention another noticeable 330d “Racing appearance”, the famous television motorshow TopGear once entered an older E46 330d saloon into the Britcar 24 endurance race at Silverstone race circuit. Despite none of the hosts being professionals at racing the BMW 330d still finished 3rd in its class:
BMW 330d on TopGear

Key facts BMW 3-Series F30

BMW 3-series F30 Dimensions and Capacity

 

Boot size / Luggage capacity

480 Litres

Fuel Tank capacity (ltr)

57 Litres

Wheelbase

2810mm

Vehicle length

4624mm

Vehicle width

1811mm

Vehicle height

1429mm

Track, front

1543mm

Track, rear

1583mm

 

Fuel Consumption BMW 316d

 

Urban (mpg)

51.4 (52.3)

Extra-urban (mpg)

72.4 (72.4)

Combined (mpg)

62.8 (64.2)

co2 emissions

118 g/km

   

Fuel Consumption BMW 318d

 

Urban (mpg)

51.4 (52.3)

Extra-urban (mpg)

72.4 (72.4)

Combined (mpg)

62.8 (62.8)

co2 emissions

118 g/km

   

Fuel Consumption BMW 320d

 

Urban (mpg)

48.7 (52.3)

Extra-urban (mpg)

74.3 (72.4)

Combined (mpg)

61.4 (62.8)

co2 emissions

120 g/km

   

Fuel Consumption BMW 320d ED

 

Urban (mpg)

54.3 (56.5)

Extra-urban (mpg)

80.7 (78.5)

Combined (mpg)

68.9

co2 emissions

109 g/km

   

Fuel Consumption BMW 330d

 

Urban (mpg)

47.1

Extra-urban (mpg)

65.7

Combined (mpg)

57.6

co2 emissions

129 g/km

   

Fuel Consumption BMW 320i

 

Urban (mpg)

33.6 (35.8)

Extra-urban (mpg)

56.5 (57.6)

Combined (mpg)

44.8 (47.1)

co2 emissions

147 g/km

   

Fuel Consumption BMW 328i

 

Urban (mpg)

33.2 (34.4)

Extra-urban (mpg)

54.3

Combined (mpg)

44.1 (44.8)

co2 emissions

149 g/km

   

Fuel Consumption BMW 335i

 

Urban (mpg)

25.4 (27.7)

Extra-urban (mpg)

46.3 (51.4)

Combined (mpg)

35.8 (39.2)

co2 emissions

186 g/km

 

Engine & Performance BMW 316d

 

Engine size

1995cc (2.0 litre)

Horse Power/Torque

116/260

Acceleration 0-62 mph (sec)

10.9 (11.2 auto)

Top speed (mph)

126

   

Engine & Performance BMW 318d

 

Engine size

1995cc (2.0 litre)

Horse Power/Torque

143/320

Acceleration 0-62 mph (sec)

9.0 (9.2 auto)

Top speed (mph)

130

   

Engine & Performance BMW 320d

 

Engine size

1995cc (2.0 litre)

Horse Power/Torque

184/380

Acceleration 0-62 mph (sec)

7.5 (7.6 auto)

Top speed (mph)

146 (143 auto)

   

Engine & Performance BMW 320d ED

 

Engine size

1995cc (2.0 litre)

Horse Power/Torque

163/380

Acceleration 0-62 mph (sec)

8.0 (8.1 auto)

Top speed (mph)

143 (140 auto)

   

Engine & Performance BMW 330d

 

Engine size

2993cc (3.0 litre)

Horse Power/Torque

258/560

Acceleration 0-62 mph (sec)

5.6

Top speed (mph)

155

   

Engine & Performance BMW 320i

 

Engine size

1997cc (2.0 litre)

Horse Power/Torque

184/270

Acceleration 0-62 mph (sec)

7.3 (7.6 auto)

Top speed (mph)

146 (145 Auto)

   

Engine & Performance BMW 328i

 

Engine size

1997cc (2.0 litre)

Horse Power/Torque

245/350

Acceleration 0-62 mph (sec)

5.9 (6.1 auto)

Top speed (mph)

155

   

Engine & Performance BMW 335i

 

Engine size

2979cc (3.0 litre)

Horse Power/Torque

306/400

Acceleration 0-62 mph (sec)

5.5

Top speed (mph)

155


For more BMW 3-series information see for instance Only About Cars.


BMW 3-series as hire car – the all new BMW F30 model
Article: BMW 3-series as hire car – the all new BMW F30 model
Topics: bmw-f30-3-series,320d,m-sport,sixt,2012,topgear,4a,bmw,co2,fuel-consumption,emission,avis
Published: Friday, June 08 2012
Latest revision: Friday, November 16 2012

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