It’s been 43 years since the launch of BMW’s 3 Series portfolio and the 2019 edition is the seventh evolution of the German auto manufacturer’s most popular series.
Highly praised performance DNA continues in the latest edition, with a new 2.0-liter twin-turbo direct-injection engine adding 7 horses and 37 ft-lbs of torque for lickety-split acceleration.
New high-tech features will lure techies.
The four-door sedan can operate hands-free in slow-moving traffic jams; a smartphone can replace the key fob plus access remote 3-D on the phone to oversee a parked car.
An intelligent personal assistant can help keep you awake when drowsy. Other features include customizing driving preferences and hands-free parallel parking.
Surprisingly, the 2018 base price remains unchanged – but still top tier among compact luxury sedans.
Our 2019 330i rear-wheel powered test-drive added nearly $19,000 in options – about one-third the total price. (All-wheel comes with 330i x-drive — $2,000 more.)
Options affirm BMW’s mantra of “Ultimate Driving Machine” with M Sport, Premium, Executive and Track Handling packages enhancing driving prowess, luxury, safety and comfort.
The 330i is bigger: longer, lighter, more rigid, closer to the ground and with larger cargo space – top among competitors.
Behind the wheel, 330i operates in Sport, Comfort, EcoPro or Adaptive mode with individual customization and a launch control for track adventures.
Superior handling comes via M Sport distributing power to wheels countering under or over steer tendencies, speed assisted steering and an 8-speed automatic transmission reacting to navigation cues, seamlessly selecting correct gears when traveling fast in corners.
Manual steering-wheel-mounted paddles increase driving thrills with electronically controlled lift-dampers adjusting to absorb bumps.
However, feedback does occur from 19-inch wheels wearing Bridgestone Turanza run-flat tires that jar on rough pavement. Braking is quick and strong.
The profile remains little changed, except bigger, sporting BMW’s iconic dual-kidney grill and blue-tinged M-Sport brake calipers.
The cockpit exudes taste without ostentatiousness and the ergonomically designed center spine has a control knob surrounded with push-button choices.
A moonroof sits above quality interior materials that include aluminum tetragon trim, anthracite headliner and tan Vernasca leather seats with front seat thigh extenders.
There is a heads-up-display (not visible with sunglasses), adjustable ambient color lighting, split-info gauge screen, sharp graphics on the 8.8-inch wide touchscreen, good voice recognition and a wireless charging pad amid other features.
The wide B-pillars restrict some visibility and the rear camera display warns drivers not to rely solely on the camera. Crash safety ratings are top tier.
LIKES: Quickness, handling, luxurious interior, cabin/cargo space, ergonomics, state-of-the-art technology.
DISLIKES: Options a must, firm ride.
BOTTOM LINE: Pricey, iconic, thrill to drive.
Base price plus destination fee: $41,240 ($60,170 as tested)
Vehicle weight: 3,646 lbs.
Wheelbase: 112.2 inches
Length: 185.7 inches
Width: 71.9 inches
Engine: 2.0-liter, turbo DOHC I-4
Horsepower: 225-hp@5,000-6,500 rpm
Torque: 295-lb-ft@1,550-4,400 rpm
Transmission: 8-speed Steptronic w/manual paddles
EPA rating: Averages 26-mpg city, 36-mpg hwy
Range:15.6 gallons, premium gas
Performance: 0-60 in 5.4 seconds