The benchmark for a compact executive sedan, the BMW 3 Series now in its seventh generation (codenamed G20). It’s still the default choice for those looking for driving engagement and is able to fit a family. Main rivals are the Mercedes-Benz C-Class, Volvo S60 and Audi A4. Prices start from RM 243,800 for the New 2020 G20 BMW 320i launched in Malaysia – priced from RM 243,800 and RM 288,800 for 330i M Sport.
BMW 330i vs Mercedes-Benz C300, you might be surprised what a RM 300k car doesn't have
BMW 320i or Mercedes-Benz C200, which looks better on paper?
2019 BMW 3 Series Gallery
With BMW’s trend of enlarging front grilles, the G20 3 Series gets a larger grille than its predecessor. There are more body lines and creases for a sharper look but it’s unmistakably a 3 Series from the exterior silhouette.
|2019 BMW 3 Series G20 Dimensions
Both variants of the 3 Series get adaptive LED headlights with cornering lights, which swivels according to the steering input.
Both variants wear 18-inch alloys albeit with different design and the 330i M Sport employs a staggered set up, where the rear wheels and tyres are wider than the front.
To address one of the major criticisms of the previous generation 3 Series, BMW has spruced up the dashboard with sharper design elements, better material finishing, and generally bringing the interior up to date.
The 330i is equipped with a fully digital 12.3-inch instrument display while the 320i get a more traditional, but easier to read analog dials.
Space and practicality
As the 3 Series grows in size over each generation, so has the interior space. Even taller adults will be comfortable in the rear seat with more than enough kneeroom and adequate headroom. In terms of storage spaces, it’s commendable as well. The door bins are large, there’s a pocket at the bottom of the driver’s side dashboard, two cupholders in the middle and a wireless charging tray next to it.
Boot space is at 480 litres, which is among the largest in class, matched only by the Audi A4.
2019 BMW 3 Series Specs and Features
As standard, both variants are equipped with a rear-view camera, Parking Assistant with Reversing Assistant, 6 airbags, stability and traction control. However, advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) are absent in all variants at present moment.
Both variants get 3-zone automatic climate control, hands-free operation of the tailgate, and electric adjustment for the front seats with memory function for the driver.
The 330i gets a 10.25-inch touchscreen infotainment display while the 320i gets a smaller 8.8-inch. Both have navigation system built in and runs on BMW Operating System 7.0. Audio system is different as the 330i gets the BMW Hi-Fi Loudspeaker System with 10-speakers, the 320i only has 6 speakers.
The 320i and 330i are powered by a 2.0-litre turbocharged 4-cylinder engine, tuned to produce different outputs. The unit in the 330i makes 258 PS/400 Nm and 184 PS/300 Nm in the 320i.
Power goes to the rear wheels via an 8-speed automatic transmission.
The 330i gets M Sport suspension that is firmer than the standard set up in the 320i.
In the 320i, performance is sufficient for most with good low-end torque for daily driving but the highlight is of course in the 330i. It pushes car strongly from almost any rpm and is able to sustain unspeakable speeds rather effortlessly.
The 8-speed ZF automatic transmission is one of the best in the business, if not the best, especially with BMW’s tuning. Shifts are lighting quick, seamless and precise. It seems to always be in the right gear at any given moment and responds to throttle inputs intuitively.
Steering and handling
The BMW 3 Series has always been known for its driving dynamics, and this is no different. Steering is razor sharp and the whole chassis responds to steering inputs in such a cohesive manner. Grip is outstanding as the front-end refuses to let go into an understeer, bravery would run out before the front wheels do.
Sound insulation has noticeably improved from before, with less road and wind noise at highway speeds. It is now among the quietest cars in its segment.
In the pursuit of driving engagement, suspension has been firmed up. Even in the 320i, the suspension is on the firmer side. In the 330i however, the even stiffer M Sport suspension can be too firm for some. It allows the driver to feel connected to the road, but passengers may not appreciate it. Having said that, the suspension does maintain some level of pliancy and composure as it does not jitter about on pockmarked roads.
The 330i is rated at 6.4-litre/100 km in a combined cycle while the 320i is rated at 6.3-litre/100 km.
The G20 3 Series has improved in many aspects compared to the previous, F30 generation. It handles sharper, has a more upmarket interior, improved sound insulation, with even more interior space.
The only sacrifice it made is the suspension. Being markedly stiffer than before, ride comfort has taken a hit. Those who are looking to buy one is encouraged to have an extended test drive, as different individuals would have different levels of tolerance for suspension stiffness.
Also, the lack of any form of ADAS may also be a deal breaker for some.
But for those who still prioritise driving and requires the practicality of a family car, there is no better alternative. It really is as BMW says, sheer driving pleasure.