2019 BMW 330i M-Sport Review
Does the BMW 3-Series still reign supreme in the saloon segment? Is it really the performance benchmark after all these years? We recently drove a 330i M-Sport to find out, and here is what we thought about it.
What is the 2019 BMW 330i M-Sport all about?
If there’s one thing history has taught us, it’s that you should never question the BMW 3-Series’ supremacy over its rivals. Ever since the inception of the luxury saloon segment, it has been dominating its rivals with excellent driving characteristics and a superb cabin. Mercedes and Audi have more than caught up though, and so have most manufacturers, which does raise an interesting point. Is the ultimate driving machine still really the ultimate?
It looks like just another luxurious saloon car, no different from the current crop of dozens and dozens of similar offerings from various manufacturers. I know that the market is largely responsible for shaping how new cars turn out, but is this really what it’s come down to? A bunch of cars all merely distinguishable by their badge alone? Regardless, beauty is subjective, and you may think the new G20 looks great. What we’re here to find out however, is whether it drives like it’s supposed to.
To start with, I was slightly surprised. Traditionally, the 330i badge denoted a lovely-sounding straight-six under the bonnet, but not anymore. The 2.0-litre twin-scroll single-turbo, four-cylinder engine in the 330i makes 258 horsepower and 400 Nm of torque. It uses a six-speed manual or an eight-speed auto to send power to the rear wheels, but you can opt for the xDrive all-wheel-drive system if you want the extra safety also.
How does it drive?
Despite the four-cylinder, the 330i feels more than quick on the road. It can hit 62 mph in 5.8 seconds and it’ll slam into the 155 mph speed limiter without too much sweat. It’s fast enough to allow you to have fun, but it isn’t ridiculously fast to land you some jail time. Mind you, you still have to be careful, because it’s faster than 90% of cars currently on the road.
The one thing I did miss from not having a straight-six engine was the noise. The four-cylinder does a great job of pulling the car along, but it somehow sounds lifeless compared to the gem of an engine that is a BMW inline-six.
Then I started poking at the chassis a bit, and I immediately found my consolation prize. It turns out we didn’t have to worry about anything, because BMW still knows how to make cars which drive exceptionally well. Not only is the new G20 better than its rivals, but it’s undoubtedly sharper and more stable than any of its predecessors. It’s almost as though it’s matured in the process. The chassis is super informative and the front end grip is perfect. I bet you can get the rear end to step out in the corners, but you may have to provoke the car a little. Otherwise, traction is incredible.
What is it like inside?
Modern BMWs don’t have the best cabins, and I’m not sure how to feel about the G20’s interior either. On one side, it’s beautifully built and they’ve only used the finest materials available to them. On the other, it’s still somehow conservative and just not that exciting. Apart from the large infotainment screen and the futuristic virtual cockpit, there’s not a whole lot of flare to the rest of the cabin. Take a look at the door panel and where the buttons for the windows are mounted for instance. I don’t feel they’ve changed much there for the past three generations. Now take a look at the new C-Class and you’ll see what I’m on about.
That being said, the cabin does feel spacious and there is plenty of room in the boot. The seating position is incredible, probably the best out of any luxury saloon. You sit nice and low in the car, so you get a good sense of what’s going on underneath you. The seats themselves were wonderful too, plenty of lateral support without being too harsh.
Would you have one over the equivalent C-Class or an A4? I’d definitely have it over the Audi, but the comparison with the C-Class is not so straightforward. On one hand the 3-Series does ride sportier, but on the other the Merc’s cabin puts the one in the BMW to shame. It depends on what you want from your saloon I guess. If you want driving experience go for the BMW, otherwise opt for the Mercedes.
2019 BMW 330i M-Sport Cost
The OTR price of £31,808 isn’t half bad, but once you start adding up some options, you know how it goes with these German cars. Our test car came fitted with the optional visibility package, the technology package, the premium package, the comfort package, and the M Sport Plus package, all of which added up for a tally of £38,170. To be honest you can skip most of the packages anyway. If you do have to choose I’d say go for the M Sport Plus, the Technology Package, and the Visibility package (Laserlights). Leave the rest alone.
Surprise surprise, it’s still the best-handling car in its class. I wouldn’t call it the best overall package, since that attribute would probably have to go to the Merc, but the BMW is still a great proposition. Certainly, the best if you want driving sharp dynamics.
2019 BMW 330i M-Sport Specs
- Price: £38,170
- Engine: 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder
- Power: 258 bhp
- Torque: 400 Nm
- Transmission: six-speed manual or eight-speed auto
- 0-62mph: 5.8 secs
- Top speed: 155 mph
- Weight: 1,370 kg
- Economy combined: 48 mpg
- CO2: 134 g/km