Celebration? Seems more like sale of the century. BMW's new 3-series Edition 30 adds up to $12,000 worth of extras to the basic package for a retail price increase of $1000, in the case of our 320i test car.
So for $75,900 you gain extras such as bi-xenon/adaptive headlights with high-beam assist, head-up display, Business navigation system, reversing camera, brushed aluminium interior trim, high-gloss black grille, rear spoiler, head-up display and 18-inch alloy wheels.
The reason? Ostensibly to celebrate three decades of BMW New Zealand being the official distributor for the Munich marque in this country. It can't be a dramatic sales push, as numbers are limited (although unspecified by the company) and the 3-series is riding high at the moment. BMW New Zealand has also just become the number-one-selling prestige marque in the country, ending years of dominance by Audi.
This kind of thing is not without precedent, though. On occasion, BMW whips up a bit of factory assistance to provide special-price (indeed, almost free sometimes) options packages. It did just the same thing back in 2009 with a facelifted 3-series, offering a bundle of stuff that included satellite navigation for very little extra outlay.
If you're just purchased a 320i and optioned up sat-nav, reversing camera and big wheels, you might not be too thrilled about the Edition 30. Everybody else should be mightily impressed. It's certainly not a means of garnishing a disappointing entry-level model: the latest 320i is a superb car, with the same engine as the 328i in a lower state of tune (135kW/270Nm).
So you see, these days BMW bootlid badges don't really mean much. Not that it matters for the Edition 30 anyway, as the '320i' graphic has been deleted from the back. You do get some 'Edition 30' badges on the side instead, though.
It's a fabulous car, the 320i, with a crisp engine, slick eight-speed gearbox and superb rear-drive chassis. Performance is not rapid but very respectable, with 0-100km/h in 7.6 seconds, and it's very easy on the fuel even if you're heavy on the pedal. Combined fuel consumption is 6.0 litres per 100km.
It's good enough that you don't automatically have to consider the diesel alternative as the better bet: you can also have the Edition 30 in 320d form. That's a fantastic engine as well, although in gaining even more fuel efficiency and torque and you trade off some of the zing and flexibility that only come with a nicely configured turbo-petrol engine.