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5 Things We Like About the 2019 BMW 330i and 2 Things We Don’t

The benchmark German sedan is close to greatness

Billy RehbockWriter, Photographer

The debut of a new generation of an iconic benchmark vehicle signals that it's time for the old model, whether beloved or loathed, to stop aside. That's the case with the G20 BMW 3 Series. After years of critics lamenting the passing of the Ultimate Driving Machine courtesy of the F30's muted dynamics, BMW had the opportunity to regain some glory. In our first drive of the 2019 BMW 330i, our contributor wrote that "the old spirit has returned" with the seventh-series sedan.

This example came to our El Segundo office loaded with options. The base price is $41,245 after the destination charge, but our test car's total price came out to $59,320. BMW included optional paint, seats, and packages to give the full 3 Series experience. After spending the better part of a week behind the wheel, I found myself loving almost everything about it, except for two frustrating exceptions.

Things I Like About The 2019 BMW 330i

  • Powertrain

BMW's turbocharged 2.0-liter engine is gutsy and smooth. Paired with an 8-speed automatic transmission, shifts are smooth and crisp. The powerplant is good for 258 hp and a gutsy 295 lb-ft of torque. BMW claims the sedan should be able to accomplish a 0-60 mph run in just 5.5 seconds, while MotorTrend's test figures verified that it could do it in just 5.4 seconds. That's plenty quick, and this 3 Series feels properly brisk in real world driving.

  • Exterior Design

Don't even tell me it looks like a Lexus. I think this car is one of the best-styled current BMWs on the market. Although its grille is larger compared to those from previous generations, it doesn't look oversized on the 330i's schnoz. Otherwise, the sedan looks lithe and athletic, with crisp and sinewy lines that help it look low and tightly proportioned. The optional Portimao Blue Metallic paint is has rich depth—it's dark enough to look mature but light enough to stand out from the swathes of black, grey, and white cars that litter the streets.

  • Interior Design

BMW's current interior styling is a happy medium of minimalism and well-situated controls. The 3 Series' cabin feels organized and spacious and has just the right amount of lighting, so the cabin doesn't look entirely like a night club when it's dark outside. Our test car featured aluminum trim with a raised "tetragon" pattern. It gives the interior a bit more dimension and provides a lighter point of contrast against the rest of the optional black upholstery with contrasting blue stitching. The screen can be swiped and poked, or you can use the iDrive knob, allowing the driver to operate the infotainment screen in whatever way is safest at that moment. If there's any way BMW has remained true to its origins, its interior design is still top notch.

  • Athleticism

On smooth, well-paved, Bavarian-perfect roads, the 330i is fantastic to drive. Our M Sport Package-equipped sedan adds M sport suspension and variable steering while the Track Handling Package contributes M Sport Brakes and the M Sport Differential. The car rotates beautifully in the bends and is super eager to change direction, especially when the drive mode is configured in Sport Mode and the steering is tightened up. Brake feel is good—fortunately BMW didn't overboost the system and make the beefier calipers too sensitive.

  • Wireless CarPlay

I'm a huge proponent of phone project systems, but wireless CarPlay is even better. It's great to be able to leave my phone in my pocket when I get in the car; it saves me a step before it's time to drive. BMW included a really nice wireless charging pad that can be concealed by a trim-matched door. It keeps the cabin looking tidy during driving and helps the driver remain free from distraction.

Things I Don't Like About The 2019 BMW 330i

  • M Sport Suspension

Although I liked the car when the roads were good, any slight imperfections caused the ride composition to fall apart. When the pavement was smooth, the cabin remained hushed and super quiet, but because the 330i is so stiffly sprung on rough roads it felt like my contact lenses were going to be rattled out of my eyes. My parents visited while I had the car and did not like the ride comfort at all. I actually reached out to BMW's communications team to ask if there are any cars without the M sport suspension in the press fleet and we were told that there aren't—and there aren't any plans in place to add one either. This strikes me as strange because BMW's spokesperson also said that only 20 percent of customers choose cars with M sport suspension installed. Hopefully a mid-cycle refresh will see a recalibration of this option to better balance performance and comfort.

  • Gesture control

Hand talkers will hate this feature. Even a moderate gesture would change the radio station or adjust the volume. Although it's a neat novelty piece of technology, I would have disabled this feature if I had the car in my possession for any longer. The cabin's button and switches are laid out intuitively enough that a gimmick like this really isn't necessary.

2019 BMW 330i Specifications
ON SALE Now
PRICE $41,245/$59,320 (base/as tested)
ENGINE 2.0 turbocharged DOHC 16-valve inline-4/258 hp @ 6,500 rpm, 295 lb-ft @ 1,550 rpm
TRANSMISSION 8-speed automatic
LAYOUT 4-door, 5-passenger, front-engine, RWD sedan
EPA MILEAGE 26/36 mpg (city/hwy)
L x W x H 185.3 x 71.9 x 56.7 in
WHEELBASE 116.1 in
WEIGHT 3,583 lb
0-60 MPH 5.4 sec
TOP SPEED 155 mph