In the compact luxury sedan segment, the BMW 3-series is arguably the standard-setter. It’s invariably the car to which all the other pretenders are compared. It offers subtle good looks on the outside, while providing comfy appointments on the inside.
But the BMW 3-series also rules among the sports sedans as well. It has long been known to give drivers a fun ride, even outside the track. An executive car it may be, but it’s not really meant for those who prefer to lounge comfortable in the rear passenger seat. It’s a driver’s car.
Let’s check if its performance bears this assertion out. Here’s a closer look at the BMW 3-series for 2021:
With the 330i, you get the turbo-charged 2L 4-cylinder base engine. It offers 255 horsepower with 294 lb.-ft. of torque. The rear-wheel drive is standard, but you can opt for the all-wheel drive instead. The 330i is only available with the 8-speed transmission, though you can get a 6-speed manual with the sportier M3.
Like most of its predecessors, the 2021 BMW 330i offers a nice combo of day-to-day driving comfort with premium track performance. The engine is good enough to only need 5.3 seconds to go from zero to 60 mph according to 0-60specs.com. The suspension is terrific, as it gives you that BMW-standard comfy ride you’d expect while still offering a lot of fun on the road.
It’s true that the lack of a manual transmission option is a letdown for old-school drivers look for a bit more engagement. But in today’s world, the 8-speed automatic here is part of the reason why the car is so comfortable to drive. It’s refined, yet it’s fast and agile. The ride quality is even better than previous models, yet it holds to the road impressively.
Much of the credit for this nice combination goes to the innovative suspension damper technology. This feature is now a standard in all the 3-series models, including the M3 and the electric version. You get a softer damping rate and a more compliant ride, when you’re not overly laden with passengers and stuff to carry.
But when you have more people and luggage inside, the damping rate stiffens to compensate for the extra weight. That actually gives you noticeably better body control without reducing the quality of the ride.
Another reason for this great mix of performance and comport is the use of the CLAR (Cluster Architecture) platform. Its use boosted the body rigidity by as much as 50%, even as it reduced the weight of the car by 55kg. That’s impressive, considering that this latest BMW 3-series is actually bigger than the previous model.
Many say that the 2021 BMW 3-series is even nimbler and comfier than its rivals such as the Mercedes C-Class and the Audi A4. But all these cars do suffer the same drawback—the somewhat sterile steering. It’s a bit annoying that driving the BMW 3-series doesnt give you as much feedback as you’d like. It’s a bit lifeless.
At least, you still get terrific grip. Even if you don’t get a lot of feedback, the steering is quick to let you make precise corrections to your cornering line. It’s even better if you have the all-wheel drive, as you’re even more certain you won’t have grip problems in any condition.
With its quick acceleration and exhilarating speed, you’d appreciate the presence of the Active Guard Collision here. This system stops the car completely if it thinks that you’re bound to hit another car without its interference. It’s especially helpful with cyclists on the road.
You do have other options, which are standard on the M3. You should consider putting in the Driver Assistant, which offers a lot of nifty tricks to keep things safe. It includes a lane-departure warning that alerts you when the vehicle drifts out of its lane, along with a blind-spot monitoring system to check areas that you miss with your side mirrors.
There’s also the rear cross-traffic alert, which is truly helpful. It prevents annoying collisions when you’re trying to back out of tight parking spaces.
The EPA rates the BMW 330i at 26 mpg in the city, which increases to 36 mpg when you get on the high way. Switch to the all-wheel drive, though, and you get 25 mpg city and 34 mpg highway.
The new BMW 3-series is a marvel, even when you go for the base 330i version. It’s a comfortable ride, but it still offers enough fun for drivers to appreciate. With the safety options in place, you’re in for an exhilarating yet relaxed ride.