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2019 BMW 330i review

The BMW 330i is the most powerful model in the new 3 Series line-up at launch, but is it worth the extra cash?

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.5 out of 5

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If you’re looking for the most enjoyable, driver-focused BMW 3 Series from launch, this 330i M Sport is the answer. However, what you gain in feel, involvement, agility and performance you trade in price, efficiency and flexibility compared with the 320d. It’s a great alternative, but we’d stick to standard 18-inch wheels.

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BMW’s nomenclature is now well out of sync with the engines you’ll find under their bonnets, so it’s no surprise that this new 2019 BMW 330i model uses a 254bhp 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo petrol engine. 

Still no straight-six here owing to the quest for efficiency – and on that subject this car will return as much as 47.9mpg and emit 134g/km CO2 in M Sport trim as tested.

New BMW 320d review

However, this is sportiest 3 Series available from launch, and with this seventh-generation model’s renewed focus on driving dynamics, this is the car that showcases what the new 3 Series can do.

With 400Nm of torque spread between 1,550 and 4,400rpm, you don’t always have to rev the 330i, but when you do there’s a nice rasp as you ramp up towards its 5,000rpm power peak. However, it does feel a little flat after this, so you’re best shifting up. 

The eight-speed automatic gearbox is as good as in the 320d. It’s smooth and switches gears quick enough for the engine performance on offer. The package delivers a 0-62mph time of 5.8 seconds, which is certainly quick enough.

Our test car was fitted with optional 19-inch wheels (noticeable over 18s) and the steering felt marginally better weighted than in the 320d as a result.

Variable Sport steering is also standard, and there’s less of a difference between this adaptive set-up and the regular tune than with previous 3 Series

The rate of response is easy to get to grips with and it quickly becomes natural tipping into roundabouts. It’s adjusting your line through a faster corner where this set-up feels more settled and better matched to the car than before. 

The 330i also gets a locking M Sport differential as an option, which boosts the agility and the 3 Series’ trademark rear-driven feel. You can subtly adjust the car’s line with the throttle and as xDrive isn’t available as with the 320d, this is the purist’s choice.

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Sean’s been writing about cars since 2010, having worked for outlets as diverse as PistonHeads, MSN Cars, Which? Cars, Race Tech – a specialist motorsport publication – and most recently Auto Express and sister titles Carbuyer and DrivingElectric

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