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Old 27th October 2020, 14:29   #1
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Default Review: BMW 330i (G20)

The BMW 3 Series is on sale in India at a price of between Rs. 41.70 - 48.50 lakhs.

What you'll like:

Just the right size for a luxury sedan for India
Punchy rev-happy engine & well-tuned gearbox deliver superb performance
Great combination of ride and handling; just how a 3 Series should be
Big step up in interior quality & design (from the F30)
Loaded with tech, new style speedometer & more. iDrive 7 is nice to use

What you won't:

Sad boot space with the spare wheel underneath
Features like keyless entry, HUD, Adaptive LEDs are expected at this price
Rs. 42 - 49 lakh price is stiff, although fat dealer discounts are available
Fake engine noise piped in; tad too fake for my tastes

Review: BMW 330i (G20)-img_3409.jpg
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Old 27th October 2020, 14:29   #2
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Review: BMW 330i (G20)-img_3345.jpg

The G20 3 Series is the seventh generation 3 Series, which was launched a short while ago in India. It is available with a 2.0-litre diesel and a 2.0-litre petrol engine, both of which are carried over from the later iterations of the previous F30 model.

The 3 Series is supposed to be a compact sporty executive saloon, and it has been the pick amongst its rivals in terms of being the better vehicle to drive. I have driven almost all generations of the 3 Series, right from the E36, E46, E90, F30 and now the G20, and I had great ownerships of the E90 and the F30. The 3 Series has historically been a driver-focused car, made with some space to carry passengers along. But it has evolved over the years, and become larger and more comfortable. The E46 is regarded as the holy grail of the lot and has the largest fan following globally. The E90 after that wasn't perceived that well. People found it a bit quirky, a bit too hard and stiff, but in terms of handling, it was certainly right up there. The F30 was really softened up, and with the electronic steering, people had a lot of complaints about it. It was slightly improved with the facelift.

Well, the G20 is definitely going to be the one to have, as it is an awesome driving machine, and, dare I say, is comfortable at the same time. In fact, BMW has got it spot on with this chassis, which is 50 kg lighter than its predecessor, but also 50% stiffer, which is no mean feat.

Last edited by Aditya : 27th October 2020 at 14:30.
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Old 27th October 2020, 14:29   #3
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The G20 3 Series is quite pleasing to look at, its well proportioned and carries over some characteristics of the older 3s. This 330i has the M-Sport body kit, which gives it more aggressive bumpers and larger wheels. What most were worried about was the chink in the headlights but I think it is something which has grown on me:
Review: BMW 330i (G20)-img_3321.jpg

Head-on, it does look aggressive with the M-Sport kit, featuring larger air dams and a more sporty bumper design. The grill is also larger than before, and its one of the only bits of chrome on the car, hence looks a bit out of place (nothing an M Performance all-black grill cannot fix):
Review: BMW 330i (G20)-img_3325.jpg

The side profile is unmistakably a 3 Series, with the front wheels placed far ahead. It also carries on with the 50/50 weight distribution:
Review: BMW 330i (G20)-img_3302.jpg

Rear 3/4th view. This darker grey does hide some of the body lines. But overall, inspite of many complaints that the design has gone Korean, my view is that it grows on one:
Review: BMW 330i (G20)-img_3374.jpg

The rear end, with the most obvious change being the dual exit exhausts, which was earlier available only on the 6-cylinder models (while 4 cylinders got a twin tip on the left side). The rear M-Sport bumper is also sporty but does look a tad bit busy with all the curves:
Review: BMW 330i (G20)-img_3371.jpg

A closer look at the front. Since these are the basic LED headlights, we get these half-kind of DRLs, rather than the proper design offered on the adaptive LED headlights. These lights do have a cornering function, and the output is far better than the LEDs offered on the F30 LCI. Sleek LED fog lamps are placed lower down near the vents. Note the kidney grills, which have the opening / closing louvres:
Review: BMW 330i (G20)-img_3312.jpg

This is my one peeve with the car, the wheel design. While its not bad by any margin, I'm sure they could've picked a far better design. This kind of takes away from the aggressive M-Sport kit on the rest of the car. 18-inch wheels are shod with Michelin RFT tyres, and no one is going to complain about the ride quality on this car. The rears are wider 255s as compared to the front 225s, and the B48 engine packs enough punch to get the rears losing traction with ease:
Review: BMW 330i (G20)-img_3306.jpg

Up close with the rear, the relatively simple rear tail light pattern is a bit basic, but we can expect this to be changed in the facelift whenever it does come. There is also an aggressive diffuser lower down in the bumper:
Review: BMW 330i (G20)-img_3381.jpg

Last edited by Aditya : 28th October 2020 at 18:52. Reason: Minor typo
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Old 27th October 2020, 14:29   #4
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The interiors are certainly quite a change from the earlier generations, and in line with BMW's newer offerings. Materials used are far better and more premium-feeling than before, and the ambient lighting all over is nice too. But the layout is still driver-centric, as it always was:
Review: BMW 330i (G20)-img_3451.jpg

The driver's cockpit area is a nice place to be in. It does give off a sporty yet premium feeling. Do note that the light knob has now been changed into buttons. A bit unnecessary, but yet easy enough to get used to:
Review: BMW 330i (G20)-img_3349.jpg

A closer look at the driver's area, with the newer style instrument cluster, and AC vent design. The aluminium trim looks and feels quite nice, and goes well with the rest of the brown interiors. Note the aluminium paddles on the steering, which are nice to use:
Review: BMW 330i (G20)-img_3444.jpg

BMW has added these slightly strangely shaped trims all over the cabin, which includes on the door handles and the side ac vents. The aluminum finish does feel good though. Also to note, the door storage has improved a fair margin, especially in the rear doors, which can now hold water bottles too. Also nice to see memory buttons for the seats, which BMW hasn't forgone unlike other manufacturers in the segment:
Review: BMW 330i (G20)-img_3354.jpg

The front seats are larger than before and very supportive. They are comfortable to sit in for long drives too. What one would miss on is adjustable lumbar support. The brown leather looks great too and is quite similar to the saddle brown shade offered earlier:
Review: BMW 330i (G20)-img_3351.jpg

A closer look at the AC controls and display. Don't miss the knurled air flow adjusters on the vents. BMW has stepped up their game in terms of materials used by a big margin. This is a 3-zone climate control with a separate adjustment for the rear too, with its own controls near the rear AC vents:
Review: BMW 330i (G20)-thumbnail_img0152.jpg

The new style gear knob. It looks like something is missing (after seeing the crystal ones on the X5, etc). Along with it are the buttons for changing the driving modes, handbrake (now powered, a first for a 3 Series), auto hold, and the iDrive knob. I would have preferred another finish over this matte black plastic, which doesn't feel bad at all to touch, but looks a bit drab:
Review: BMW 330i (G20)-img_3424.jpg

The rear seat is a tad bit more spacious than before, and the backrest angle is now more reclined and hence more comfortable. While its not a back seat car, you definitely won't hear any complaints while you are enjoying yourself in the driver's seat. As before, a third person is a no-no. Do note that the curtains for the side windows are now gone, and so is the powered curtain for the rear windscreen. These should have been continued IMO:
Review: BMW 330i (G20)-img_3355.jpg

The shallow boot with the spare wheel now under the floor. They say it has the same amount of space as the F30, but it just didn't seem so to be in terms of useable space:
Review: BMW 330i (G20)-img_3388.jpg

Last edited by Aditya : 27th October 2020 at 14:32.
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Old 27th October 2020, 14:29   #5
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Driving the 2.0L Petrol AT

Review: BMW 330i (G20)-img_3461.jpg

The B48 Engine continues to be used in the G20 330i, albeit with a slight power and torque bump. It now puts out 255 BHP and 400 Nm. The same engine is also used in a variety of vehicles like the Mini Cooper S, and also has outputs up to 302 BHP. There is also the 2.0-litre diesel B47 engine which is carried over from the previous car, and that puts out 188 BHP and 400 Nm of torque.

Getting into the driver's seat, it immediately feels familiar. Setting the driving position is super quick, just like in the previous 3 Series, and you feel completely at home. Of course, there is the new digital dial and larger iDrive screen, but the general visibility and go kart-feeling continues.

Pressing the start stop button, the engine comes to life with a tiny growl, and BMW has made the stock exhaust on this a tiny bit louder than what it used to be on the previous generation vehicle. Cold start is clearly audible outside, and then it settles into a silent idle. Its worth noting that this exhaust does have a valve, and does get louder in Sport mode, and does give away tiny pops and crackles too if you listen closely (will be far louder with a good aftermarket exhaust).

I personally find this generation 3 Series the most engaging to drive of the last couple I have driven. And its all due to the suspension and chassis setup. While the chassis is 50% stiffer than the earlier car, the suspension, I daresay, is perfectly tuned. It is well damped, absorbs bumps without giving you the loud thud the 3 Series is known for, and there isn't too much of body movement too. And this is with 18" wheels running a rather high tyre pressure of 36-38 PSI. I did reduce it to 32 all around, and that helped the ride quality even more, without really compromising on handling. The handling is spot on, with negligible body roll and it just grips, and grips, and grips (until the tail comes out, that is). Quick lane changes, long high speed turns, twisties, you name it, the G20 takes them all with aplomb. And did I mention it doesn't get unsettled much with mid corner bumps too? Steering feel is also direct, more than the F30, which was the first generation with an EPS. This one transfers a fair bit of feedback from the road and doesn't have any dead spots. Its not a Porsche, but its certainly very good and gives you the confidence to push the 330i to its limits.

This setup is what makes this car absolutely brilliant. It has the handling ability and an almost as good steering feel as the E46 and the E90, while giving you better comfort than the softened up F30, all in one. BMW has got it spot on!

Now let me move on to the drivetrain. It continues with the ZF 8-speed gearbox, with which we have not been able to find faults before, and it continues with this one too. The engine is very free-revving, and packs in quite a punch. Inside the city, driving in regular traffic, its well refined and has enough torque such that a prod on the A pedal gets you where you want to be. Its easy and comfortable to just amble along with the rest of the vehicles on the road and the gearbox upshifts early and uses the low-down torque and makes sure the engine is spinning at a low rpm. Since the suspension is well damped, even though it is a tad bit stiff, driving along at city speeds doesn't feel uncomfortable (with the earlier generation 3s, you would want to just push the car). The moment you see a gap though, give it the beans and the gearbox immediately downshifts a gear or two, the exhaust lets out a small snarl and you find yourself covering distances rather briskly. With 255 horses on tap, its certainly no slouch, and whenever one has the space to exploit the power, the small Bimmer doesn't disappoint. On the open roads, it is even more fun. You get up to ridiculous speeds quickly, and the gearbox seems to always be in the perfect gear for whatever you want to do. Lets just say, this will bring out the BMW Driver (i.e someone who may be a bit rash), in you since its such a fun package!

A question which is on many of our minds, this or the vRS? Not to take anything away from the vRS, its a great sporty car, with awesome mod potential. But in my personal opinion, it just can't match the RWD along with the beautifully setup chassis of the 330i. While the vRS can be tuned to some insane figures, and can really get its way around a racetrack, the Bimmer just feels a bit more pure! And with a good exhaust setup, and an engine tune, the 330i will be quite something.

Sport+ no longer puts the traction control half off. You have to press the traction control button once. Guess too many people got taken off guard in the F30 with the traction going half off in Sport+. Seen here is the configuration menu for Sport Individual:
Review: BMW 330i (G20)-thumbnail_img0156.jpg

New design speedometer has great crisp graphics, and cool displays such as a G Force meter, etc. Its actually very nice to use, with the map in the middle. Lots of configuration options available:
Review: BMW 330i (G20)-thumbnail_img0149.jpg

The new style indicator and wiper stalks just feel so cheap as compared to earlier ones, from the look of the stalks to the movements too:
Review: BMW 330i (G20)-thumbnail_img0165.jpg

Auto Parking is cool, but what really is great is the reversing assistant which helps reversing out of a tight parking spot:
Review: BMW 330i (G20)-thumbnail_img0162.jpg

Last edited by Aditya : 27th October 2020 at 14:32.
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Old 27th October 2020, 14:35   #6
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Default Re: Review: BMW 330i (G20)

Thread moved out from the Assembly Line. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 27th October 2020, 17:24   #7
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Default Re: Review: BMW 330i (G20)

What a car! Getting the ride and handling perfect is an art and a skill that is really difficult to master! Kudos to BMW for pulling it off!

The saddest part about the car has to be the boot space! Fine for someone upgrading from a hatch but for an existing sedan owner, this is a shame. Planning and packing for a week-long trip will be a pain. With the price difference between this and the 530i not too big, I'd prefer the 5 since I can go on a proper long holiday with extra comfort for the 5th passenger and sufficient boot space. After all, these machines are built for the open road!
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Old 27th October 2020, 22:30   #8
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Default Re: Review: BMW 330i (G20)

Fabulous review of the 3 series. Thank you!
The launch of the 2 series at that price, makes the entry level 3 series look like serious VFM offerings. This feel is only accentuated by the absurd pricing of the VRS 245 as well.
For a Jetta/ Octavia owner, there aren’t many options out there and the 3 will definitely be there in their upgrade short list. This can be validated by a few of our favourite BHPians buying the 3 series moving up (or laterally) from Jetta/ Octavia.
Again as GTO says, it is a tough battle to choose between the practical and sensible 320d vs the monsterous and powerful 330i!
This might also be the last or last but one chance for enthusiasts like us to enjoy a pure RWD IC engined car!

Last edited by NTO : 27th October 2020 at 22:32.
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Old 28th October 2020, 08:55   #9
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Default Re: Review: BMW 330i (G20)

Brilliant review, it was an absolute pleasure to read.

I think BMW has got a lot right with the G20, especially the styling, I just wish that they had followed the same front end design with the M3. The 330i seems like the best option below a C43 or M2 for a proper petrol powered experience. With the discounts on offer, the 2 doesn't seem like a contender in terms pricing for a person interested in a segment lower either. Being RWD with the near "mid-engine" setup this will drive better than the overpriced VRS 245 as well.

A chrome delete, some M parts and a tune would really get it a notch up.

Question: Does anyone know the sales figures of the 330i? I haven't really seen many on the road in Bangalore.
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Old 28th October 2020, 09:20   #10
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Default Re: Review: BMW 330i (G20)

NOICE! That's the first word that came to my mind the first time I saw this car in real life. BMW cars are in a league of their own, when it comes to looks and just general styling. The 330i is a stunner and looks quite futuristic as well. Looks like BMW has upped it's game majorly after the previous generation 3er.

The only grouse for me would be the height and rear seat comfort (I'm 6 feet tall and I'm pretty sure my head would rub against the roof).

Great job BMW and of course Akshay1234
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Old 28th October 2020, 09:44   #11
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Default Re: Review: BMW 330i (G20)

Awesome Review. I didn't quite like the looks of this gen of the 3 series at launch, but it has grown on me. One thing I didn't like though, is that they removed the curtains, other than that, it's a wonderful car.
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Old 28th October 2020, 10:26   #12
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Default Re: Review: BMW 330i (G20)

Wonderful review of a wonderful car. Like the colors of 2 GC they should have offered a whole of exterior shades on 3 series as well. I don't understand why they don't offer so many different colors.
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Old 28th October 2020, 12:32   #13
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Default Re: Review: BMW 330i (G20)

It’s so good to see BMW make the 3 series driver focused again! Great review and your point about the BMW being bit more pure compared to the vrs is exactly what I feel.
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Old 28th October 2020, 12:48   #14
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Default Re: Review: BMW 330i (G20)

Perfect timing! And as usual, high quality review.

As if life was not confusing enough already while I make decision as to whether go for 330i or not, especially when most BHPins seem to suggest to let go of Jetta to accomodate for this Bimmer: (Thinking of 330i. Sell Jetta or EcoSport?)

I think BMW has nailed it when it comes to driving pleasure, handling/ride, performance, interior quality - and overall experience.

The only thing not as high is the practicality, which I personally don't care as much about, as long as it's not downright impractical. The other downside is poor VFM. Unfortunately, there is no getting away from the fact when buying new, we Indians have to pay through our nose. It is what it is!

Last edited by Abhi_Automobile : 28th October 2020 at 12:50.
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Old 28th October 2020, 13:41   #15
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Default Re: Review: BMW 330i (G20)

Great review Akshay. I love almost everything about the G20 330i Msport. The almost is only because even though I am out in the market for something in the similar price range even after multiple test drives and discussions I still cannot make up my mind about it since as compared to my Octavia that I plan to replace, the G20 still feels short charged. With its size the 3 is no where an upgrade to the Octavia nor is it with missing features like passive entry, panoramic sunroof, adaptive headlights, omission of the rear curtains, etc. The maximum discount that BMW is offering is only about 5L so for 55L OTR Bombay a 3 series seems like a lot of money, it still costs 2x of what the Octavia costs.

Unfortunate that the current owners of D segment sedans have literally no good upgrade options available even at double the price. However my personal situation aside at the 50L mark there is no better option than the 330i, I have really enjoyed that go kart feel to it in all the test drives that I have taken and the exhaust sound even though not the real deal but it is still something that really excited me.

P.S: There are no stocks of the 330i in Msport trim available in Bombay atleast anymore, from what I was told they are manufacturing very low numbers in this trim. So expected discount in the future may not be very high either.
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