I recently had the privilege of test driving the all-new BMW 330i M Sport. This car was unveiled in mid-2019 by SMC Asian Car Distributors Corporation as the latest evolution of its iconic sports sedan. I decided to take this fine Alpine White colored BMW up north in Clark Freeport in Pampanga to see how it performs in the expressway and how it endures city traffic.
But before I test its performance on the road trip, let me relate to you my experience when I picked up this car at the SMC ACDC compound in Pasig City. I have not driven a BMW for a long time, but as a fan of the E30 3 Series that started the emergence of the German sports sedan, there was a nostalgic feeling of how the onlookers and bystanders appreciates a BMW with the “wow’’ reactions you got when you drive it around the busy traffic-plagued streets. Even the traffic aides and gas attendants will give their extra smiles when they see this all-new 3 series.
The all-new BMW 330i is brimming with presence. It features a long hood design that highlights its RWD proportions. The front fascia features a notch in the front apron that rises up into the headlight contour. Adaptive LED headlights come as standard on this 330i M Sport, while a pair of character lines highlight the car’s dynamic silhouette. The 3er’s side profile features a new interpretation of the brand’s Hofmeister kink, giving it a more dynamic side profile. At the back, the traditional L-shaped tail-lights feature a dark-tinted design that emphasizes the car’s width. Being the M Sport variant means that it features a more aggressive front bumper, side skirts, as well as a sporty rear bumper design.
As with all BMWs, the 3 Series’ interior is angled towards the driver. It features a slew of upgraded materials to further enhance the cabin experience. As standard, the 330i M Sport is fitted with the new BMW Operating System 7.0. In this case, it uses the base 8.8-inch LCD screen for the main infotainment screen and the partly-digital gauge cluster. The all-new 3 Series also features the BMW Intelligent Personal Assistant, which enables drivers to give out commands using the cue “Hey, BMW!” in the same manner as to how one would give commands to Apple’s Siri or Google Assistant. Driving it straight for 2 to 3 hours to Clark Freeport for around 134 kilometers one way with matching traffic jams highlighted its excellent seat comfort especially for drivers who aren’t as young like me.
Those at the back are treated with their own climate vents as well as two USB ports. Speaking of USB ports, they’re the Type C variety, which makes it futureproof, but for the majority of us who still rely on the current USB A, it’s #donglelife for us. Other than that, space is very roomy with a surprisingly expansive head and leg-room enough to seat two 6-footers. Being a rear-wheel-drive (RWD) sedan, though, there’s a hump on the floor that reduces foot room for the middle passenger.
There was a common perception that the previous-generation BMW 3 Series was less sporty than its predecessors, due to its less engaging steering, among other complaints. This all-new 330i rectifies all that now. Being the 330i, the 3 Series is powered by a 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-4 petrol engine, developing 258 hp and 400 Nm of torque. It only takes the 330i 5.8 seconds to reach 100 kph from a standstill. Despite its performance credentials, the 330i M Sport is surprisingly frugal, averaging out at 9.8 km/l during our entire use with this sports sedan.
Keeping the car’s movements flat through corners is its adaptive M Sport suspension, which lowers the 330i M Sport by 10 mm over the standard 3 Series. It can be electrically adjusted at any time to suit the road and driving conditions. Drivers can also manually adjust the suspension characteristics via the Driving Experience Control to enable their preferred driving style from comfortable to extremely athletic.
The BMW 330i M Sport also has a slew of active safety features, one of which is the Parking Assistant, which is basically an automated parallel and perpendicular parking feature, as well as the new Reversing Assistant, which remembers the last 50 meters that you drove and then when you hit reverse, the car will essentially playback the steering direction in reverse completely hands-free for easier backing out.
This M Sport variant also has variable sport steering with Servotronic technology that creates a direct and agile steering response and ensures that less effort is required to turn the wheel. It practically reacts to the angle of the steering wheel with varying steering ratios. This feature is useful in turning and at the most helps greatly in parking maneuver especially in the Philippine setting since parking areas are mostly cramped and super-exhaustive.
The ZF 8-speed automatic transmission it is mated to is also sublime, offering incredibly sporty gear shifts when you want it whilst offering sublimely smooth transparent shifts when you need it. The transmission also has the option to be operated manually using the gearshift paddles or the electronic gear lever. Lastly, the M Sport brakes seal the deal for its sporting intentions, featuring 4-piston fixed calipers at the front and single-piston floating calipers at the rear in blue with the M designation.
As I’ve been accustomed to old-school BMWs, I can confidently say that the all-new BMW 3 Series is a return to form for what the brand is known for. Whereas the previous 3 Series was lost in its role of being a sports sedan and a comfy cruise, this new model fully embraces what it was supposed to be in the first place. In addition to the generous tech-laden features, BMW fans will surely and easily fall in love with its renewed commitment to offering the a sensational driving experience that’s distinct to the Bavarian brand.
Pricing and Rating
Exterior Design: ★★★★★
Interior Design: ★★★★☆
Space and Practicality: ★★★★☆
Fuel Efficiency: ★★★★★
Value For Money: ★★★★☆
Overall: 4.4 out of 5
*Pricing is correct and accurate as of this article’s time of writing.