Entry price: $42,250
Price as tested: $58,770
This week, we’re behind the wheel of the new generation 2019 BMW 330i xDrive Sedan, built in Munich, Germany, and sporting a longer wheelbase, less weight and perhaps the best looks in the history of compact class BMWs.
Although objectivity is important in writing car reviews and test drives, those who read my column regularly know my respect and approval of German-built luxury sport sedans and these new 3-Series BMWs are clearly some of the best out there.
Furthermore, the 3-Series BMW line offers consumers a chance to own a quality, excellent handling and stunning-looking BMW for a price that is, in my opinion, undervalued. (Yes you read that correctly … undervalued).
I feel these BMWs are price leaders when you compare them to not only the direct competition, (Mercedes-Benz, Infiniti, Acura, Lexus, Audi, Cadillac and Lincoln) but also vehicles completely on the other side of the spectrum, like the $51,000 two-door Jeep Wrangler Rubicon we test drove two weeks ago. For $40,000 to $50,000 nowadays, your BMW dealer has special incentives on 2019 models that are hard to beat.
Specifically, the new generation 3-Series offers consumers the best of both worlds as the wheelbase is stretched 1.6-inches yet its curb weight is over 100-pounds lighter thanks to the use of lighter yet stronger assembly pieces. This longer wheelbase versus the last generation 2018 Series results in a three-inch longer length dimension resulting in more interior and cargo space. Also notable with the new build is a slight width enhancement and a lower center of gravity that makes this compact class BMW the best handling of the 3-Series class of vehicles to date.
Under the hood sits BMW’s 255 horsepower, 295-torque Twin Power Turbo inline four-cylinder that is quite peppy and able to get to 60 mph in less than six seconds. This low-end pep will be equalized when you ask for power while cruising at 65 mph, but there’s more power than expected and quarter-mile times in the high 13-second range make comparison to a ’67 Plymouth GTX 440 pretty equal. Overall, it’s a great car with the inline-four delivering surprising power and then producing great fuel mileage at 25 city and 34 highway the EPA estimates.
The BMW four-cylinder, by the way, is not a Twin Turbo as some might think, even though BMW uses a “Twin Power Turbo” nomenclature in its marketing descriptions. To explain quickly, the single turbo receives a power assist that eliminates any turbo lag that was the major Achilles heel problem years ago with all turbo cars. Your dealer will explain how everything works when you visit. If you want more power, ask about the 340i that comes with a turbocharged inline-six that delivers 382 horsepower for even more spirited performance.
Our tester featured a $5,000 M Sport package that adds variable sport steering, comfort access keyless entry, lumbar support, Sensa Tec Dashboard and SiriusXM Radio with one year subscription. Years ago, M Sport packages upgraded the suspension, brakes and added a six-speed manual transmission just for starters. Today, other than the outstanding steering upgrade, this M Sport is more an amenity package as most of the previous performance M Sport upgrades are now standard fare. (But for true performance driving, the steering upgrade is worth it).
Unlike previous generation BMWs, there are no manual transmissions available as this all-new 2019 3-Series relies on a fine shifting eight-speed automatic with paddle shift Sport and Manual shift modes. It’s a great transmission but I’d still like to see a manual on a build sheet somewhere. Bridgestone Turanza run-flat tires on really nice M Wheel spoke wheels are standard on all xDrive AWD models.
A $2,800 Premium Package adds heated steering wheel and front seats, head-up display, high-tech Connect Package Pro, Apple CarPlay compatibility and Live Cockpit Pro with Navigation. This option replaces an 8.8-inch display with a 12.3-inch design along with a 10.3-inch infotainment display. I like the radio volume knob while the center console has the needed buttons to select engine start, drive modes, and other functions.
An Executive Package for $2,100 features LED lighting, parking assist pro, gesture control, active park distance alert, enhanced rear view camera with surround view and 3D. An optional Active Driving Assistant Pro option for $1,700 adds extensive traffic jam assist, adaptive cruise control and the steering and lane-keep assist.
Other safety items active like blind spot detection, forward collision warning with city speed emergency braking and automatic high beams are standard fare.
The final options include a Harmon Kardon surround sound system upgrade for $875, wireless charging for $500, ambient lighting for $250 and a remote engine start for $300. With $995 destination, the final price came in at $58,770 retail.
The 330i’s steering with the M Sport option is very good and delivers that special “steering wheel feel” I always speak of that’s prevalent in quality, performance German-built automobiles. The brakes also deserve note, as large four-wheel discs stop this BMW with authority and no fade in repeated 60-to-zero testing. Also featured are special suspension underpinnings with shock absorber dampers that automatically contour the shock travel to better eliminate vibrations while adapting to rough road surfaces. Expect a firmer ride with the new BMW 3-Series, but in no way is the experience uncomfortable. Its overall handling is superb.
Important numbers include a wheelbase of 112.2-inches, 3,772-lb. curb weight, 17 cu. ft. of cargo space and a 15.6 gallon fuel tank.
In summary, the new 3-Series BMW in any flavor is a car worth every penny, and if you don’t desire some of the expensive options, you can park one in your driveway for well under $50,000.
Likes: All new design, very quiet inside, surprising power, handling
Dislikes: Unnecessary options push price too high, not much else.
Greg Zyla writes weekly for More Content Now and GateHouse Media. Contact him at email@example.com or at 303 Roosevelt St., Sayre, PA 18840.
Test Drive: 2019 BMW 330i xDrive
Entry price: $42,250