In Brief: G20 BMW 3 Series – How to differentiate the 320i from the 330i?

Eric · Jul 09, 2020 09:32 PM

In BMW Malaysia’s current line-up, the company offers two variants of the G20 3 Series – the BMW 320i and BMW 330i.

To recap, BMW Malaysia introduced the locally-assembled (CKD) 330i M Sport late last year, followed by the more affordable 320i in early-2020.

But how do you differentiate the BMW 320i from the more expensive 330i?

Let’s take a closer look.

Exterior – Pay close attention

At a glance, both the 320i and 330i may appear identical, but there are several tell-tale differences.

Starting with the front-end, the 320i gets a more rounded front bumper, with its LED front fog lights positioned on the outer edges of the bumper. The 330i, on the other hand, gets the more aggressive-looking M Sport bumper that features honeycomb pattern on the front fog light surrounds and lower air intake. 

Moving along the sides, the both the 320i and 330i get 18-inch alloy wheels, but with varying designs. On the 320i, Style 780 wheels are fitted, while the 330i gets Style 790 M wheels.

Putting aside BMW’s confusing naming scheme for its wheels, the 320i can be identified by its twin-spoke alloy wheels, while the 330i gets meaner-looking multi-spoke wheels. The 330i also adds blue M Sport brake calipers, clamping down larger brake rotors than the 320i.

The differences also carry on to the rear of the 3 Series – the 320i gets a simpler-looking rear bumper, while the 330i gets a larger rear diffuser piece. Both cars get twin muffler tips at each end of the bumper.

Interior – M emblems, everywhere

Step inside and the biggest difference is the infotainment display.

The BMW 320i gets an 8.8-inch touchscreen infotainment display, but the pricier 330i gets a larger 10.25-inch unit. In fact, the 320i’s infotainment system runs on the older BMW Operating System 6.0, while the 330i’s infotainment system rungs on Operating System 7.0. That said, both systems support Apple CarPlay.

Continuing on the audio set-up, the BMW 320i is fitted with 6 speakers, while the BMW 330i features a 10-speaker audio set-up. 

In fact, the cheaper BMW 320i gets a more traditional meter cluster with analogue dials, while the 330i gets a fancier fully-digital Live Cockpit Professional instrument cluster. Although the 330i’s digital instrument cluster looks fancy, it is difficult to read while driving due to the massive information overload that clutters the display.

As the name suggests, the 330i M Sport also gets an M Sport steering wheel and M Sport pedals.

Powertrain – Same engine, different outputs

While the BMW 320i may share its 2.0-litre B48 four-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine with the 330i, the cheaper model makes do with less power – 184 PS from 5,000 rpm to 6,000 rpm and 300 Nm from 1,350 rpm till 4,000 rpm. The 330i, on the other hand, cranks out 258 PS and 400 Nm.

Both cars share an eight-speed automatic that sends power to the rear wheels.

The 74 PS deficit in power output also reflects in the century sprint – the 330i completes the 0-100 km/h sprint in 5.8 seconds, while the 320i manages a respectable 7.1 seconds.

Price – RM 45k separates the two

The BMW 320i has a starting price of RM 248,800, while the more powerful 330i goes for RM 293,800, a RM 45k premium. With the SST exemption in place, they are priced from RM 241,794 and RM 286,187, respectively.

Although the RM 45k may seem like a lot, the extra nabs you quite a fair bit of kit, as listed below.