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  • Writer's pictureAlain Kuhn Von Kuhnenfeld

2019 BMW 330i xDrive

This week we are reviewing the 2019 BMW 330i xDrive. Our vehicle was assembled at the BMW Plant in Munich just behind BMW headquarters and had an MSRP of $59295 CAD.

Fun Factor: 8

Can it Family: 7

Fuel-Friendly: 7

HWY-warrior: 8

Karaoke Friendly: 7

Baby friendly: 7

City Cruising: 6

Last year when we tested the 330i of the 6th generation or for those in the know we are talking about the F30 platform. We found that 330i was not as refined as the new C-Class and the new A4 exterior looks and interior amenities. However, the new G20 variant of 3 series, fixes all of this. What had bothered us aesthetically the most on previous generations was the placement of the 2 exhaust on the same side. Now, this has been updated with 2 symmetrical REAL exhausts on each end, yes real exhausts!

Moreover, they are not hidden by a fake tip to make it larger, or even an attempt to remove the exhaust and yes I am hinting to its German rivals. Lots of you have asked us recently if we would rather drive a 3 series or a Model 3, this question isn't all that crazy as the model 3 is king in sales in this segment in North America. Overall, we think the 3 series is more enjoyable for several reasons: for starters, it's more fun to drive, it handles better, this comes as no surprise. BMW has redesigned the chassis for performance, but it also resulted in making the 330i the luxury sedan to get. Another thing many may have overseen when making the comparison with the Tesla 3 is as simple yet essential as seating design. When driving family, friends or having to bring your teenager to their prom or outing in the rear of the Tesla 3, they will undoubtedly be uncomfortable since the seating position is unnatural.

The seating position is so much more comfortable in the 330i for the rear passengers (and the front passenger) that a comparison would be unfair. For those wishing to be more ecological, BMW will also offer the 330e by early 2020, we also recently tested the bigger brother the 530e and will be writing a review shortly about it. A performance-oriented M340i has also come on the market this spring for those for whom the 255hp and 295 lb-ft of torque is not enough, that's an increase of 8hp and 37 lb-ft of torque. These results will push you to 100km/h in 5.6 seconds from a class leading 8-speed transmission, the transmission was precise and effective, at no point did we wish it would shift earlier or later, they've improved an already amazing transmission and made it even better. In our real-world test, we've achieved 5.95 seconds to 100km/h. We conducted these tests without launch control to see what the real experience would feel in a real-life scenario. We simply found that the new 3 series brought so much joy to our driving experience. During our test, we had a hard time finding faults to the 330i when it came to the driving dynamics. It felt a lot more stable since they've increased the wheelbase of the car; this also improved cornering. We noticed this, especially when exiting curves were. The suspension has been reworked to be more enjoyable on both regular pavement and even on less than stellar streets, the car never felt out of balance nor did the chassis feel too upset when we were unable to avoid those pesky potholes. BMW has stepped up their game, giving us a car that can be both very efficient and sporty and fun to drive.

Can the new 3 series bring the family in style, luxury and comfort and bring all the amenities required for ever day use and for the weekend road trip to the cottage? We can answer yes to all these questions. First off, the seats are very well bolstered and hug you nicely in place. Seating for 4 adults is possible, fitting a 5th adult might be a squeeze; however, a child may take that place and still be comfortable. Passengers in the rear will enjoy heated seats on those chilly winter mornings, except for the one sitting in the middle who sadly didn't get first dibs on the side seats with heating. They shouldn't suffer too much because they will have access to the temperature controls for the back and can adjust them to their liking. Another point worth mentioning is the driver's seating position adjustments, not all vehicles have the capacity of providing a truly comfortable position as much to a tall driver as to a petitely short individual, but the 330i definitely does which we appreciated greatly. We were able to fit 3 medium size luggage, with 2 medium size we were also able to fit a jogging type of stroller. We will mention the BMW connect application several times in our review for several different uses, however in a family perspective, if you sent your teenager to get the last of grocery bags, and they aren't 100% sure they've closed all the windows or doors you can verify that using the app and even lock or unlock the car.

Someone would expect a vehicle with these performances not to be fuel efficient, BMW has made sure that the redesign wasn't just adding a couple of horses and a little bit of torque and leave it at that. No, they've actually made the 330i more efficient these claims reflect the reality as we were able to reproduce in real life the energy efficiencies advertised. In our test, we averaged 8.5L per 100KM, in the city we were able to achieve a fuel consumption of 10.7L per 100km and on the HWY we were able to achieve 6.5L per 100km. With the new coasting feature also available in Comfort mode, where the powertrain decouples without affecting performance in any way when keeping a steady speed without slowing down we were even able to get fuel consumption as low as 4.6L per 100km. BMW announces a combined consumption of 9.1L per 100km; this might be a bit overestimated as even with a sporty driving style we were not able to achieve such high fuel consumption. In our test we used 91 Octane fuel, this is the recommended fuel by BMW and the minimum would be 89 octane fuel. A nice feature we found is that the BMW connect app also gives you the range of your vehicle and lets you know how far you can go on the interactive map before having to refuel.

How is the new BMW 330i for longer distances on the HWY? Starting with the low fuel consumption and nimble capacity, it's already a winner when looking at competitors such as the C300, A4 and the S60 from Volvo. The seats are nicely laid out and will not give you any back aches when sitting for longer journeys in the 330i. The heads up display is a must and gives you all the information you really need for your road trip. This option is included in the Premium Package Enhanced that costs $4900 and consists of a multitude of goodies such as ambient lighting, automatic trunk, comfort access using your phone, heated steering wheel, parking assistant with surround view, remote engine start, XM radio, a Wi-Fi hotspot and wireless charging. We found that this option is worth every penny. However, what we liked less are the suite of driver assistance systems, such as lane keep assistance that is overly sensitive and tries to correct the heading of the car in a very aggressive way making it unpleasant to use, we had to turn it off. In faster curves, it felt unbalanced and in a particular instance, unsafe.

Now the sound system in the 330I is of good quality with its 464 watts with the optional Harmon Kardon sound system and its whopping 16 speakers; it will surely make the family since along to any tune. We found that most music styles sound good; electronic music did sound better than pieces of music that were more acoustics. As for the infotainment, BMW is showing off what the new iDrive 7.0 can do, some of the latest features include gesture control to increase the volume by circling your fingers from left to right to increase the volume and the other way around to decrease it. You can also skip songs by moving you thump to the left or the right. They introduced a personal assistant feature which responds by calling "Hey BMW," it allows then to use specific commands such as changing temperatures or even set a mood for example if you feel anxious, you may inform the car and it will use lighting, ventilation and music to bring a relaxing environment. Other features are also available when tired at that point the system will open the roof and the ventilation will blow cold air at different speeds. For the actual screen, we did find that customization of the main screen is endless and can be confusing when not used to the previous version of iDrive. Most of us that have smartphones, such as iPhones will be using Apple Car Play with a multitude of option for the split screen. For those using Android, Android Auto, it is currently not available at this time with BMW. The connectivity was very efficient, we didn't have to take any action for the car to recognize our phones depending on who was testing vehicle at the moment after the initial set up.

How is the BMW 330i with babies and how is it to install car seats? Like most BMW products, the installation is easy, the ISOFIX ports are hidden underneath a little socket when not in use and can be opened easily to easily access the ISOFIX ports. Front facing car seats can be installed without the front passenger needing to sacrifice front seating capacity, something that you need to be aware if you're cross-shopping with a Mercedes C300 where the front passengers will have to sacrifice much seating real estate. The rear doors open wide enough to easily fit any type of car seat without having to fiddle around too much around. The installation of 2 car seats is possible in the back with a small booster in the middle however it might be a squeeze for long road trips, otherwise a small child will be okay in-between 2 car seats even if it might be a little tighter compared to if only 2 adults were sitting in the rear. When the middle passenger finds a comfortable position, their legs are in the way of the rear temperature controls and in a way that each time the middle seat passage touches them, it may either adjust the ventilation controls or the heated seats of the other 2 passengers. As for toddler accessing the car, will be easy for them too, the doors can be opened with ease and a toddler may also gain step into the car without too much difficulty, where your child may need help is to gain access to their booster or car seat since the bench is high off the ground.

Finally how is the 330i in an urban environment? We found that the driving experience is well balanced and that the start/stop system was well programmed to feel naturally when lifting off the brake pedal and accelerating felt smooth as if nothing had occurred in the engine compartment. One feature we really liked was the BMW connect application that can locate the exact position on your car if you've parked it in a large shopping center, with the help of the 360-degree camera you can also view the location of the car in real time in 3D. You can also pre-climatize your car from the app, lock it and even blow the horn if you were not able to find you car. Our car was equipped with a rear camera, however, we were advised that the vehicle we were testing was a pre-production model and that all 330i will come standard with a 360-degree camera for the ease of parking. What we found that was not integrated in a natural way is the automatic parking function, in several instances we attempted to engage the system and the car would just stop the process in the middle, and letting the system find a parking in the first place isn't as simple as it could be. We found it easier not to rely on these functionalities and park the car ourselves; the large screen does give you a good view around making parking something simple.

Why would we buy the BMW 330i and what we like: BMW has the finest European luxury sedan currently on the market, very good fuel economy overall.

Why wouldn't we buy the BMW 330i and what we didn't like: we have to think hard of a reason, it could be more ecological, the options can add up to be pricey and the parking assistant that doesn't always work.

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