Summary

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Racking up prizes and trouncing the competition may be routine for the 3 Series, but that makes it no less of an achievement. More to the point, thanks to the E90's class leading driving dynamics, it's easy to overlook the enormous work BMW has put into the car's infotainment technology. It's every bit as impressive as the chassis or engine.

Just for fun, therefore, here are some (very) limited highlights: Google Search, iPod control, DVD playback, CD ripping with Gracenote tagging, voice control, remote services including unlocking and GPS-aware messaging and much, much more. Overall, the combination of iDrive and ConnectedDrive is a fascinating take on in-car information, entertainment and connectivity. It's certainly the most modern, capable and powerful system we've tested here on TR. What's more, the SendtoCar messaging feature is one of the most useful single technologies we've seen.

The infotainment tech also gels extremely well with the broader driving experience. What with the excellent diesel drivetrain, flappy paddle gear shift and rear-drive dynamics, it all comes together to form a mighty fine package. The 330d really is a master of so many disciplines - no wonder the competition is always a step behind.

But despite the enormous feature set and immense polish there are areas where it feels underdeveloped and unfinished. The absence of proper web browsing or 3G connectivity are both big downers, for instance, the latter ensuring the online features run painfully slow. The lack of prompting when connecting devices and oversights such as in-car playlist editing also disappoint, as do the limitations of the navigation system compared to the best aftermarket devices.

Moreover, in the long run we'd love to see BMW open out the iDrive platform. Imagine something analogous to Apple's App Store for the iPhone. Wouldn't it be great to be able to choose from competing navigation interfaces and media playback platforms or add quirky new applications and functionality?

That, however, is a question for the future. For now, the revised 330d lifts what was already a pretty impregnable package well beyond the reach of the competition. It's as good as or better than the rest by just about every important metric. In the context of mainstream, multi-purpose motoring, it might just be the best car currently on the market.

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