The rule of three is expressed as “omne trium perfectum” in Latin and this is foundation of the saying that good things come in threes. This is certainly the case for BMW, with more than 4.5 million 3 Series sedans sold since 1975, making it the best-selling BMW of all time. It is fair to say that the seventh generation or G20 iteration of the 3 Series bloodline has a lot to live up to.
What makes ‘The 3’ the benchmark by which all other four-door sedans are compared against? It comes down to doing the basic things right and building from there. The 330i is the Goldilocks size for a practical, everyday car that will comfortably carry four adults, but is still easy enough to manoeuvre in tight locations. It is also still rear wheel drive, something that BMW purists would be happy about.
The 4-cylinder 2.0 litre twin turbocharged petrol engine produces 190kW of power and 400Nm of torque, which is about standard for similar powered four-door sedans. The 330i can do the 0-100km/h dash in 5.8 seconds, which gives you OK off the mark acceleration and good overtaking ability. The official combined fuel efficiency is 6.4L/100km and for my week I used an average of 8.5L/100km and this is about the same as other 2.0 litre petrol-engined cars that I have driven.
The ride quality of the 330i is another high point of the vehicle, and that combined with acoustic glass in the windscreen as well as the front windows, produces a quiet cabin with an all-round lovely driving experience. You get four drive modes to choose from; Eco-Pro, Comfort, Sport or Adaptive. Sport mode can either be set at Standard, Plus, or Individual. Under the Individual setting you can adjust damping, steering, engine and the 8-speed Steptronic Sport transmission between Comfort or Sport.
My 330i came standard with M Sport Package and this includes M Sport suspension, M Sport brakes, and M Sport aerodynamic package and it also had the optional M Sport differential ($2,040). On the interior you get an M leather steering wheel, which really needs to lay off the pork knuckle as it is getting far too fat and my 330i also had the optional M seat belts ($560).
From the fat steering wheel you can access the adaptive cruise control, which has a very cool feature. When you engage cruise control and hit the ‘set’ button the speed will be set at the sign posted speed limit that the car has recognised, but you can override the speed if the system has incorrectly identified the speed limit. Also from the steering wheel you can access the BMW voice control system, which is excellent.
Overall though the interior of the cabin is a very pleasant place to be with numerous design highlights to add to your driving pleasure. I liked the Aluminium mesh effect interior trim ($300 option) and the matt black around the centre console that doesn’t show finger marks. The children enjoyed arguing over which of the six ambient light colours I had to select from. For connecting/charging devices, at the front of the centre console there is one standard USB port, one 12V outlet and wireless charging for compatible devices, and under the arm rest one micro USB port and a reasonably good-sized storage cubby. A. The 330i now has a fully digital 12.3” instrument display and a graphical head-up display.
A Harman Kardon sound system with a 464W digital amplifier, nine channels and 16 speakers comes standard in the 330i and to enjoy this, your media options include DAB, AM/FM, on-board storage and Bluetooth. But the DAB radio reception was patchy where I was driving the BMW on the outskirts of Sydney.
The 10.25”central infotainment touchscreen uses the BMW Operating System 7.0, which features gesture control, something I have never quite been able to make work properly. In addition to access to the sat nav, media and phone options the system also provides access to BMW ConnectedDrive, which connects your vehicle to the world via numerous apps. You can also use Apple CarPlay with the BMW system, but BMW require you to pay an annual subscription cost to do so.
Normally when you see the car you are driving on a 360o reversing camera the colour of your car on the display is generic, but on this 3 Series it matched the Sunset Orange metallic colour of my 330i. This is such a small detail, but something that I have wondered for a long time why car companies did not do? The camera is excellent by the way and has the clever BMW ‘look down’ camera so you can see directly behind or in front of your car. The system features 360o sensors and has the door swing width on the camera so you can see if the doors can open without hitting anything.
I liked the Alcantara/Sensatec combination seats as they were comfortable and looked really nice with the contrast blue stitching. Both front seats are heated and have power adjustment including side bolstering, but not lumbar support and the head rest can be manually adjusted in both up/down and in/out directions. The driver’s seat has two memory positions and the passenger seat has none.
The rear seats are also heated and have enough head and leg room for two adults to sit comfortably back there. There are air vents in the back of the centre console and these have temp, mode and speed control and below the climate controls there are two micro USB ports and one 12V outlet. For children are two ISOFIX and three rear tether child seat restraint points, but like most cars there is only room for two seats. The centre console folds down as an arm rest with two small drink bottle holders and the drink bottle storage in the door cubby is a good size as well.
The 330i only has a manual open and close boot, but it is a good size and would fit a stroller and the weekly shop. There are four tie down points and one 12V outlet in there, but no spare tyre. The rear seats also have a 40/20/40 split fold configuration, giving you the ability to store longer items in 330i while still have two passengers in the back seats.
Active safety aids include front collision warning, side collision warning, lane departure warning with or without steering intervention, lane change warning with or without steering intervention, adaptive cruise control with smart set speed and blind spot detection. What is absent though is lane keep assist, which is something that partners well with adaptive cruise control for highway driving. Passive safety includes dual frontal, side chest-protecting and side head-protecting (curtains) and a driver knee airbag. Two-litre model variants of the BMW G20 3 Series have a 5-star ANCAP safety rating (2019) with an Adult Occupant Protection score of 37.1 out of 38 (97%) and a Child Occupant Protection score of 43 out of 49 (87%).
All new BMWs come with a three year unlimited kilometre warranty with BMW Roadside assistance. The intelligent BMW Condition Based Servicing system available on the 330i monitors the individual components of your vehicle’s service requirements and notifies you in advance when a service is due. Your vehicle then sends all relevant servicing data directly to your preferred BMW dealer. Owners can opt in to a BMW Service Inclusive package, which covers your scheduled servicing costs for a specified duration or distance (whichever comes first) for a single, once-off advance payment. For a 5 year/80,000km package the price starts at $1,650 for 3 Series BMWs.
The BMW 330i sedan with M Sport Package starts at $70,900 plus on-road costs and as tested my burnt orange Bimmer was $79,230 plus on-roads. The most expensive option was the Visibility Package ($5,070) that included metallic paint, glass sunroof, BMW Laser headlights and ambient lighting. This perennial four-door sedan favourite really does show that good things do indeed come in threes. Visit your preferred BMW dealer to explore ‘The 3’ range for yourself.
|Quiet cabin||The fat steering wheel|
|Comfortable ride quality||Apple CarPlay requires ongoing subscription|
|On-board technology||Lane keep assist not included as standard|
Photographs by Driven Women Magazine.