The 216d Gran Tourer Luxury seats seven, lacks a sleek profile, but has the BMW badge to add to the confusion while boosting its reputation. By Kannan Chandran
Who’d have thought 20 years ago, that BMW would roll out something as practical as the 216d?
Diesel was still trying to show it had cleaned up its act and was offering a more powerful and cleaner option to petrol engines. And a seven-seater BMW? Well, who’d have thought a mini-bus was in the Bavarian Motor’s works?
But how things have changed.
Today, BMW finds itself moving beyond performance. Electric vehicles and sport utility vehicles are adding healthily to BMW’s bottomline. The German brand delivered close to 2.3 million cars (BMW, MINI and Rolls-Royce) worldwide in 2015, generating in excess of Euro 92 billion in revenue.
And it’s the likes of the 216d that will continue to feed into the aspirational mindset of over-achieving Singaporeans who are happy to spend a fortune on something they will ultimately never own outright. Remember, after 10 years, it’s bye-bye car thanks to the ingeniously nefarious Certificate of Entitlement system. But that’s across the board in Singapore, so how does this diesel BMW fit into the scheme of things?
As an entry-level model, this front-wheel-driven compact SUV offers a smooth run. There’s enough pull to keep the driving engaging and out of the sluggish range. The steering is nimble, and there are enough bells and whistles to keep you engaged, from Bluetooth connectivity to satellite navigation (although it needs to be updated), electric seats with memory, ConnectedDrive, Parking assistance…. It needs to be well-equipped to compensate for its outward appearance.
Viewed from the front, it’s got the BMW family resemblance and that’s a strong selling point. Head along the side, and some of that character gives way to a profile that’s a bit too big and less streamlined, regardless of the number of curves worked into the metal. And it drops off at the back in a far from attractive rump.
But practicality over aesthetics sometimes can swing the tide, and here’s where the flat behind, once kicked open (literally, by swinging your foot under the bumper) offers lots of opportunities. When all seven of those seats are occupied, you might get a couple of briefcases in the back. But pop the two rear rows down and you’ve got oodles of space.
This makes the 216d a versatile vehicle for anyone with a brood that doesn’t mind sitting cross-legged in the back sans air-conditioning blowers, and who may have to move bulky things on occasion. For all that it can accomplish, it’s not a very big vehicle.
Then, of course, not forgetting it’s a BMW.
BMW 216d Gran Tourer Luxury TECH SPECS
Engine: Inline 3 cylinder turbodiesel
Max Power: 85kW@4,000rpm
Max Torque: 270Nm@1,750rpm
0-100kmh: 10.9 seconds
Top Speed: 192kmh
Retail price: *$160,800
Please reconfirm price with dealer.