2019 BMW 330i Review
Toby Hagon’s 2019 BMW 330i Review With Price, Specs, Performance, Ride And Handling, Ownership, Safety, Verdict And Score.
In a nutshell: BMW’s seventh-generation 3-Series has rediscovered some of the magic that helped define the brand.
2019 BMW 330i Specifications
Price $70,900+ORC Warranty 3 years, unlimited km Service Intervals Variable Safety Not rated Engine 2.0-litre 4-cylinder turbo petrol Power 190kW at 5000-6500rpm Torque 400Nm at 1550-4400rpm Transmission 8-speed auto Drive Rear-wheel drive Dimensions 4709mm (L), 1827mm (W), 1442mm (H), 2851mm (WB) Kerb Weight 1470kg Towing TBA GVM 2060kg Boot Space 480L Spare Repair kit Fuel Tank 59L Thirst 6.2L/100km
Watch our first drive review of the 2019 BMW 330i
It’s the car that defines BMW and now the seventh-generation 3-Series is hoping to regain its mid-sized luxury sedan title with sharper dynamics, better value and a bigger, more practical body.
Codenamed G20, there’s a larger, more mature design but one that maintains that athletic look the 3-Series has always done so well. Larger kidney grilles and distinctive LED lighting front and rear complete the bolder look.
For now, only four-cylinder models are available, but the new 3-Series family will expand significantly over coming years.
What’s in the range and how much does it cost?
BMW’s 3-Series is typically available with a vast range, although with the arrival of this new model just two are on offer initially.
Kicking things off is the 320d, priced from $67,900. It now comes with the M Sport package standard, although you can add more chrome and a slightly softer suspension tune for no charge with the Luxury pack.
It comes with a head-up display, smart key entry, electric front seats, three-zone air-conditioning, digital radio tuning, 10-speaker sound system, Qi wireless phone charging and 18-inch alloy wheels. While the seat covering looks like leather it’s BMW’s fake alternative, Sensatec, with the real stuff costing extra.
The next step is the volume seller, the 330i, at $70,900. It gets all the gear from the 320d as well as adjustable dampers and 19-inch alloy wheels. Other gear for the 330i includes rear leather, more advanced semi-autonomous technology including radar cruise control, as well as larger M Sport brakes.
There are also loads of colour and trim options, including various metallic hues for another $2000 and the choice of eight different interior colours. You can package those metallics with brighter, longer-blasting laser high beams and a sunroof for $3900.
Those wanting to ramp up the sportiness can get an M Sport differential as part of a $2000 pack that also adds a rear spoiler and seatbelts with the BMW M colours.
While there are only two models for now, that will change over the next couple of years to incorporate an entry-level 320i, partially-electric 330e, performance oriented M340i (complete with all-wheel drive) and the legendary M3.
BMW Australia is also expected to take the wagon version in 2020.
What’s the interior and practicality like?
There’s a big change with the presentation inside. More chrome and metal finishes team with some interesting grains and finishes on the plastics (the speaker grilles are quite different, for example, with some interesting honeycomb patterns on the dash).
The back seat has stepped up in space, although a car-load of adults may challenge those in the rear for leg room, while head room is also marginal for larger adults.
The boot is quite long and has a clean, flat floor, along with 40/20/40 split-fold.
What are the controls and infotainment like?
BMW’s iDrive central control system was once derided for being overly complex, but the latest iteration is a winner. A simple rotary controller can be twirled or pushed in any direction to navigate your way around the concise 10.25-inch screen.
Considering how much is packed into the various menus it makes it fairly easy to work your way around. There’s also voice activation with BMW’s latest natural voice recognition; while it works well, previous experience suggests it’s a long way from recognising natural speech.
Keeping ventilation controls separate from that main infotainment system is also great, with separate buttons to quickly adjust the air flow.
The digital instrument cluster is elegant clear, able to display basic navigation functions between the speedo and tacho. You can also dial up various parameters, from a detailed trip computer or phone commands to a G force meter and display that shows how much power and torque the engine is producing at any moment.
The head-up display is a handy addition, although it’s blocked out by polarised sunglasses.
What’s the performance like?
For a 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo the petrol engine in the 330i is lacking little for punch. Outputs peak at 190kW and 400Nm, the latter providing a lovely mid-rev surge that makes for spirited acceleration. But it’s the flexibility of the engine that defines this classic BMW powerplant, ever willing to pull strongly lower in the range but also eager to rev cleanly, making the most of its upper reaches.
Combined with a slick and intelligent eight-speed auto it’s well suited to everything from a gentle cruise to a spirited thrash. There’s also some rortiness to the sound when you select Sport mode, some artificial sound pumped through the speakers to add to the sporty sensation. It’s no V8, but it’s enticing by four-cylinder luxury car standards.
Fuel use is claimed at 6.4 litres per 100km, which is impressively frugal given what’s on offer. But in doing its fuel-mising thing it misses out on some of the BMW excitement. Sure, the 400Nm of torque is good, with stout mid-range response and effortless hill climbing. But the fun runs out at 4200rpm, at which point it’s pumped out its modest 140kW power peak.
What’s it like on the road?
BMW has focused heavily on the 3’s dynamics. It starts with an all-new body that is longer but also lowers the centre of gravity by 10mm and places the wheels further apart.
As well as a wheelbase 41mm longer than before, the front wheels are spaced 43mm further apart and the rears further 21mm apart. It’s also 55kg lighter, living up to the promise of creating an agile car that still delivers on style and comfort.
There’s also clearly been significant work with steering, too, which has a progressive feel with nice weighting. Combined with those rear-drive dynamics that allow the front wheels to focus on steering it makes for an engaging machine.
It doesn’t take long to establish the focus is on agility, a tautness to the suspension that ensures quick reactions to steering inputs. It’s more pronounced in the M Sport suspension, although even the Luxury pack has a residual tension that means you’ll feel most bumps, even if they are well dealt with.
Stepping up to the lower profile optional 20-inch tyres increases that sentiment. Still, ramp up the pace and it all makes sense, the 330i in particular rising to the challenge.
Does it have a spare?
There’s no spare for the 3-Series, only a repair kit.
Can you tow with it?
The 3-Series will be able to tow, but its tow capacity is yet to be confirmed for Australia. Either way, don’t expect to go hooking big loads up to the back; it’ll be best suited to small boats or box trailers.
What about ownership?
BMW uses condition-based servicing, which monitors how and where the car is driven to determine when things such as oil and brake pads might need replacing.
So there are no standard service intervals. While service intervals can be stretched as long as two years and 30,000km if you’ve been taking it easy, you can also be called back to the dealership far more often.
Not that the servicing costs have to be a surprise. BMW offers a five-year, 80,000km service pack for $1565. There’s also a Plus service pack that adds brakes and wiper blades for a total of $4110 over the same time and distance.
The new 3-Series will also have access to remote software updates. Link the car up to wifi and it’ll complete a technical update without having to visit a dealership. The updates will be focused on infotainment functions, bringing more functionality or features as it becomes available.
There will also be two map updates each year for the navigation system, but they need to be first downloaded to a USB before being uploaded to the car. The Remote Services app you can download to your phone makes it easier to keep an eye on the basic status of the car as well as when services are required.
What safety features does it have?
All 3-Series models come with front and side airbags as part of a comprehensive crash structure. But there’s also a strong focus on active safety, albeit at two different levels.
The base 320d gets a system called Driver Assistant, which incorporates autonomous emergency braking (AEB) up to 85km/h, lane departure warning and speed sign recognition. There’s also rear collision warning and rear cross traffic alert to warn if you’re about to collect something while backing up.
Step up to the 330i and it gets Driver Assistant Professional, which adds more radars and cameras for a better virtual view and increased smarts for avoiding a crash. The Professional system relies on five radars and seven cameras (regular Driving Assistant has one radar and two cameras).
Additional functionality includes AEB that operates up to 210km/h, rear auto braking and selected self-steering that allows for short bursts of hands-off driving (provided the car has a good view of lane markings).
The 330i also gets a back-up assistant system, designed to help you reverse out of tight driveways or streets. When driving in at up to 36km/h it’s recording the view from the rear camera, something it can use to steer the car along the same path you came in on.