2019 BMW 3 Series Range Review

G20 BMW 3 Series

Priced From $67,900Information

Overall Rating

0

4 out of 5 stars

Rating breakdown
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Safety, value & features

4 out of 5 stars

Comfort & space

4 out of 5 stars

Engine & gearbox

5 out of 5 stars

Ride & handling

4 out of 5 stars

Technology

4 out of 5 stars

Pros & Cons

  1. ProWilling engines; planted chassis; classy interior; decent packaging

  2. ConFirm ride; Styling may be too low-key for some

  3. The Pick: 2019 BMW 3 Series 30i M-Sport 4D Sedan

What stands out?

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The BMW 3 Series is a nicely balanced and well-equipped luxury car that has special appeal for keen drivers. It is a good size, too: small enough for easy parking, but able to carry five in comfort. The seventh-generation G20 3 Series range is still in its early days, with only two mid-range sedans on offer, though these will soon be joined by new versions including a more high-performance sedan, and a plug-in hybrid.

What might bug me?

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BMW uses run-flat tyres that do what the name suggests: they allow you to keep driving after a puncture. The catch is, you are not supposed to drive a flat tyre faster than 80km/h, nor further than 80km, which can be tricky if you're out in the middle of nowhere.

Even though 3 Series sedans don’t carry a spare wheel, they have no more boot space than obvious alternative cars from other makers.

Paying a premium for your BMW sedan only to have to pay to access Apple CarPlay after the first year – this is totally free in more affordable cars. And there's no Android Auto.

The jarring ride on the BMW 320d’s standard suspension.

What body styles are there?

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A four-door sedan.

The BMW 3 Series is rear-wheel drive and is classed as a medium-sized car, higher priced.

What features do all BMW 3 Series versions have?

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Large-diameter aluminium alloy wheels (beginning at 18 inches on the 320d) with low-profile tyres.

Long-lasting auto on/off LED headlamps and tail-lights, and auto high-beam.

Three-zone climate control (which allows different temperatures on either side of the cabin and at the rear).

A head-up display, which projects speed and navigation information onto the windscreen (helping you to keep your eyes on the road). Cruise control with speed limiter.

A 12.3-inch digital instrument display, and 10.25-inch central colour screen with satellite navigation.

A 10-speaker audio system with AM/FM/digital (DAB+) radio reception, MP3 and USB compatibility, Bluetooth connectivity with intelligent voice control. Controls on the steering wheel for those functions. Apple CarPlay is also available but requires an annual subscription.

A rear-view camera that displays a bird’s-eye-view of the car from above, showing obstacles to the rear and each side.

Heated exterior mirrors and rain-sensing windscreen wipers.

BMW Connected Drive. What BMW calls the Lifestyle version includes a three-year subscription to internet-based services such as BMW Online (news, weather, Google local search, office, and apps) and the BMW Connected app. It also includes Remote Services, which lets you operate various functions from a remote location. For example, you can lock and unlock the doors, control the ventilation, and find the car if you forgot where you parked it.

A suite of active safety aids that includes autonomous emergency braking, front collision warning, lane-departure warning (to tell you that the car is drifting to either side), rear-cross traffic alert, and rear-collision prevention.

There are eight airbags: two directly ahead of the front-seat occupants, two to protect front occupants against side impacts, and a four side airbags to guard front and rear occupants against head injuries.

Automatic Start/Stop, which cuts your engine when you stop, say at traffic lights, without shutting down other systems. The engine comes on as soon as you take your foot off the brake. You can disable this system with the push of a button.

Run flat tyres that eliminate the need for a spare tyre.

Two USB ports, A- and C-type, and a 12v power socket.

Electronic stability control, which can help maintain control if the car loses grip on a slippery surface. All new cars must have this feature.

Both the 320d and 330i currently come standard with the additional equipment as part of the M Sport Package that add aerodynamic body kit including sporty bumpers and side sills, leather sports steering wheel, aluminium interior trim finishes.

The 3 Series is covered by BMW’s three-year/unlimited-kilometre warranty.

Which engine uses least fuel, and why wouldn't I choose it?

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The twin-turbo diesel 320d, is the fuel-saving champion, using just 4.5 litres/100km in the official test (city and country combined). This turbocharged engine feels very refined, especially for a diesel. It also provides impressive acceleration and effortless cross-country cruising.

One reason you might not choose it is that you want to enjoy the smoothness and response of if the 330i turbocharged petrol engine, which consumes fuel at a still frugal 6.4 litres/100km but has significantly more power and sporty appeal.

What key features do I get if I spend more?

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Spending more on the BMW 330i over the 320d brings the more powerful turbocharged petrol engine and bigger 19-inch alloy wheels.

You also gain adaptive M Suspension as standard, which allows the dampers to adjust to driving conditions including a more controlled firm ride for sports driving or a softer ride for cruising around town.

The 330i also gains sports brakes, active cruise control, automatic speed limiter, forward side traffic warning, more advanced 3D parking camera, and advanced keyless entry that lets you enter and start the car without taking your key out of your pocket or bag.

Optional Extras

The first option is a no-cost one – the Luxury Line package available on both the 320d and 330i brings Vernasca leather upholstery, wooden trim finishes, sport front seats, and unique-design leather steering wheel and alloy rims.

You can also opt for the Visibility Package for about $5000, which adds metallic paint, high-tec ‘Laser’ LED headlights, glass sunroof and interior ambient lighting.

The Comfort package, which costs about $2600 for the 320d and $1800 for the 330i, brings lumbar support to the front seats, automatic boot lid, and front-seat heating. The 320d also gains the advanced keyless entry already available with the 330i.

For about $3100, the Driver Assistance Package adds to the 320d some of the features already in the 330i including adaptive cruise control, lane keeping assist, tyre pressure monitor, and the simulated 360-degree camera view.

Apple Carplay is also available but you have to pay an annual subscription, which is available for free for the first year.

There is also a range of single items you can add to your BMW 3 Series. See your local dealer or BMW website for more details.

Does any upgrade have a down side?

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It’s worth noting there isn’t much to distinguish the different 3 Series models visually, so spending more doesn’t necessarily mean more street cred. Nor do they vary greatly for equipment and in-cabin pampering. So if you value fuel economy and the 320d is fast enough for you, you might be wasting your money on the higher-spec 330i. That said, the 320d lacks ride comfort adjustment (called M Suspension) as standard, so this may be an option worth investigating.

The 330i's 19-inch tyres will be more expensive to replace when the time comes.

How comfortable are the 3-Series sedans?

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BMW has always prided itself on making ergonomically pure interiors. Nothing has changed there with the current 3 Series. All the switchgear operates with a tactile, precise action, and the digital instrument gauges, infotainment screen and head-up display are crisp and clear.

The infotainment system is easy to negotiate via the rotary controller, and you can still select functions by touching the screen. The Bluetooth syncs quickly and connects immediately when you return to the car. Apple CarPlay is included free for the first year but (somewhat inconceivably) will be an extra cost option after that. Of course, if you buy a Mazda 3, it comes for free forever. Unlike most cars, you don’t need a cable to pair your iPhone with CarPlay; just the Bluetooth connection. We found, though, that it did cut out from time to time. Android Auto is not yet available.

The leather-appointed front seats are supportive and comfy, even before you specify the Luxury Package’s plusher Vernasca leather sports seats.

The four-cylinder engines are slick and refined when working hard. They’re initially little dull-sounding in urban pottering, but the 330i gets a little vocal when you select Sport mode.

The 320d has quite a firm ride on the standard suspension, with the secondary bounce over road imperfections feeling quite jarring. The 330i’s adaptive suspension absorbs bumps better in Comfort mode, but there's still some harshness from the 19-inch low-profile tyres.

What about safety in a 3-Series?

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Every 3 Series BMW has stability control, eight airbags, a multi-view reversing camera, a head-up display, lane-departure warning, auto-braking, and rear-cross traffic alert.

It is a rounded package that emphasises protecting you in a crash, enhancing your control of the car, reducing the hazard to others around you in low-speed manoeuvring, and supplying a safety-net for distraction or inattention.

The lane-departure warning monitors your position in a lane on the highway, alerting you should you begin drifting wide – perhaps dangerously, from fatigue or distraction.
The auto-braking will warn you and, if required, apply the brakes at city speeds to avoid or mitigate collision with another vehicle or pedestrian.

The Driver Assist Package features a more sophisticated radar-based auto-braking, which will detect a pending collision and brake at higher speeds up to 210km/h, and and lane-keeping assist that detect lines and helps steer the car within them. It also has adaptive cruise control which will automatically slow and keep a safe distance between a vehicle in front of you, even when that vehicles comes to a stop.

The high-speed auto braking, lane-keeping assist and adaptive cruise control come standard with the 330i.

The 3 Series is also fitted with run-flat tyres help you maintain control of the car if a tyre deflates suddenly.

The Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) has yet to assess the seventh-generation G20 3 Series.

I like driving - will I enjoy this car?

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Absolutely. Even the diesel 320d is a fun-driving car with responsive acceleration and steering that goes exactly where you point it.

The 330i provides more by way of sporty thrills and hits the spot for somebody who is interested in how a car feels as much as what it does, but also wants a comfortable and fuel-efficient daily driver. The 2.0-litre turbo engine feels responsive through the eight-speed automatic gearbox that's amplified when selecting Sport mode, which also provides a throaty synthetic engine note. The eight-speed 'box cycles through gears smoothly, and is also compliant when shifting gears manually via the paddle shifters.

The ride on the 19-inch wheels is firm but helped by the adaptive dampers that reduce the jarring you get when riding over bumps in the regularly suspended 320d. That firmness comes into its own when you require sharper handling, though, which you get in spades thanks to beautifully weighted steering, while the taut chassis feels immune to body roll.

Around town and on the highway, the 320d and 330i are comfortable cruisersthat will make the daily drive an enjoyable one.

How is life in the rear seats?

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Rear seat space is a little tight for legroom, and wedging three people across the bench is best reserved for shorter journeys.

There is good all-round vision back there, however, and rear-seat passengers benefit from having their own air vents and climate control settings.

How is the BMW 3 Series for carrying stuff?

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Boot space is 480 litres, which is the same as the previous model and about as much as you will get in any similar car.

The rear-seat backrest is split 40:20:40, so it’s adaptable for all sorts of long loads while still carrying three or four people.

Where does BMW make the 3 Series?

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All seventh-generation 3 Series sedans delivered to Australia are built at BMW’s home city of Munich, Germany – unlike the previous model that was built in South Africa.

What might I miss that similar cars have?

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A wagon version, such as the Audi A4 Avante or Mercedes-Benz C-Class Estate. The new BMW 3 Series wagon, called the Touring, is still being developed and will be revealed later in 2019. No word if or when it will come to Australia, but if it does don’t expect it before mid-2020.

Maybe all-wheel drive, also available on an Audi A4. Thought you won’t have to wait long with the first ever AWD 3 Series, the 340i xDrive due later in 2019.

For now, a hybrid powertrain as found in the Lexus IS 300h, though a plug-in hybrid BMW 330e is also due to arrive at the end of 2019.

A genuine performance version like the Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio, Audi RS4 Avante, and Mercedes-AMG C43 and C63 - the new generation BMW M3 isn’t expected to appear until some time in 2020.

Other key rivals include the standard Alfa Romeo Giulia, Jaguar XE and of course the Mercedes-Benz C Class sedans.

I like this car, but I can't choose which version. Can you help?

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The 330i is so far the stand out. It costs about $3000 more than the 320d but that's easily made up for with add-ons including advanced auto braking, adaptive cruise control and adaptive suspension. It also delivers better performance than the 320d and is a great package in terms of luxury, efficiency and sportiness, without the huge price tag.

Are there plans to update this model soon?

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The seventh-generation G20 BMW 3 Series arrived in March 2019 with just two sedan variants, the 320d and 330i. This range will grow as more versions are rolled out including the wagon and performance versions.

The first additions to the range will be the powerful M340i xDrive, the first ever AWD 3 Series, due later in 2019 along with the plug-in hybrid 330e. The 320i turbo petrol is expected in 2020 and will become the most affordable option in the 3 Series range.