July 22, 2019 By Kevin C. Limjoco Photos by Andréas N. Delos Reyes

2020 BMW 330i M Sport

The return of the original sports sedan standard

The fabulous white sport luxury sedan you see here is the all-new 7th generation BMW 3-series (G20) in 330i M Sport packaging! Unlike in the past with previous 3-series launches in our market, when more entry level 316i to 320d models with modest packaging were offered first well before the more sporting and better equipped variants, this time BMW Philippines begins its effort to recapture the segment with a heavily-speced above mid-spec variant, bless them!

Naturally the new sport wagon, the hybrid 330e iPerformance model, and xDrive systems can be optioned depending on the market. At this moment, we are about a year from getting the full-blown all-new M3 sedan as well so the most aggressive models available today are the 330i and 340i. Both can be packaged with M Sport kits that offer upgraded trim, Active Driving Assistant, upgraded brakes (from single-slider calipers on 13-inch vented discs on all corners to our test unit’s signature blue Brembo® 4-pot calipers up front squeezing massive 14.6-inch vented discs while the rears use 2-pot calipers on 13.6-inch vented discs), quicker Variable Sport steering, mixed alloys, M suspension, Comfort Access keyless entry, gorgeous and effective new full-LED headlights with cornering Lights, rear lights and fog lights, SensaTec Dashboard, M steering wheel, and more.

The twin-scroll single turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-4 engine is not new however it has been further optimized with the new 330i with an updated reprogrammed ECU, lighter crank, more efficient direct injection, and reduced internal friction measures. The results are an increase of horsepower from 248 bhp to 255 bhp, which is clearly not too big a bump on paper but when you see the new torque rating from 258 lb-ft to 295 lb-ft, you then appreciate that the new engine health combined with the better aerodynamics (that now include flat and covered underbody) and lighter weight (as much as 130 pounds lighter depending on variant) yields a thrilling and rewarding driving experience that you uniquely expect from a BMW. You can still get the silky turbocharged 382 bhp inline-6 engine in the 340i.

The all-new BMW (G20) 3-series uses the new standard Cluster Architecture (CLAR) platform and features increased applications of high-strength steel and aluminum which makes it 85 mm (3.3-inches) longer, 16 mm (0.6-inches) wider, and 5 mm (0.2- inches) taller on a wider track using a 40.6 mm (1.6-inches) longer wheelbase of 2851 mm compared to the F30 predecessor. On a side note for additional perspective, the new 3-series wheelbase is literally 1 mm longer than that of a Toyota LC200 Land Cruiser, and longer than every 5-series model beginning with the E12 up to the E39! My last BMW 5-series was a 190 bhp inline-6 528i (E39) and this 330i M Sport is wider and taller than that while being significantly faster, more dynamic and more efficient. In fact, dynamically you would need to use the 282 bhp / 325 lb-ft 4.4-liter V8-powered 540i (E39) to try to keep up with the new 330i, and you would still fall short. You would actually need the 400 bhp M5 (E39) to outgun the new 330i M Sport in a straight line, but the opulent and feature-rich new younger brother would out handle and out brake it while being almost as spacious. Weight distribution is said to be identical as before at an almost even 50:50 but body/chassis rigidity is supposed to be 25 % better. The trunk space is a bigger than before at 480 liters (17 cu ft) compared to 368 liters (13 cu ft). The rear seat legroom is more spacious too thanks to the increased dimensions.

The new interior is very familiar but it is more of a youthful interpretation of the current 5-series which carried the design torch for the family to follow. Given our debilitating importation taxes and duties, it was a very challenging exercise of balance for BMW Philippines to package the new 3-series as best as possible while managing consumer costs. They did an admirable job I assure you. For example, our market doesn’t get the new larger 11.5-inch HUD which is almost twice as large as before, nor the 16-speaker 464-watt Harman Kardon® surround sound system, the adaptive M suspension, the new iDrive 7.0 system as well as the 10.25-inch TFT instrument display and 12.3-inch digital instrument clusters that it is supposed to manage, panoramic moonroof, and the three-dimensional 360-degree view cameras, but you wouldn’t actually miss any of them because the 330i M Sport performs so exceptionally well without them all, savings both costs and extra weight.

What you do get with the M Sport package are lovely Aluminum Tetragon interior trim, full acoustic windows with increased insulation, attractive adjustable multiple color ambient interior lighting, a solid sounding HiFi Sound System with 7-channel 205-watt amplifier, beautiful and supportive M designed Vernasca leather seating, mixed 18-inch M light alloy double-spoke style 790 (Bi-color Orbit Grey) wheels, 7.5J x 18 fronts and 8.5J x 18 rears wrapped with exceptional 225/45R18 95Y front and 255/40R18 99Y rear Michelin Pilot Sport 4 ZP XL tires.

The new double-wishbone front and multi-link rear suspension is once again the class standard, so good combined with the meaty rolling stock that you feel like it can handle anything that you throw at it. It is the very best non-adaptive setup in its class by a long shot. If you notice the front iconic kidney grille has been replaced with a new snorting nostril reinterpretation that so happens to also feature the new Active Air Stream technology that helps cool the engine as well as help aerodynamics by closing the slats when required. Still enjoy doing j-turns and e-brake maneuvers in a 3-series? My apologies folks but BMW has finally removed the mechanical handbrake, in its place is now the familiar electronic parking toggle, yet another sign of the times.

My only criticism are the engine notes. The natural sound of the force-fed overachieving 2.0-liter is nowhere as characterful nor as emotional as the classic notes from even the old E30 inline-6 sohc 12-valve 328i. The dual chrome-tipped exhausts look great and purposeful though! I actually appreciate BMW’s Active Sound Design synthetic audio support through the speakers that increase in range and volume when Sport mode is engaged. It helps ease the minds and hearts of more seasoned enthusiasts like myself. Dynamically, despite the less emotional support orchestra, the BMW 330i M Sport performs significantly better than any of its comparable predecessors that have shared the same moniker. And it performs while simultaneously delivering remarkable luxury, comfort, presence, and space in measures that exceeds every generation before it. The only issue that may affect its commercial success in our market is its price. But if you can afford it and you have always dreamt of owning the very best sports sedan in its class, the original standard bearer, then your dream has been fulfilled.

Specifications

Engine

Engine Inline-4, 1998 cc, dohc 16V, Valvetronic, Bi-VANOS, Direct Injection Intercooled Turbo, 8-speed AT

Performance

Top Speed 250 km/h (155 mph) Governed
0-100 km/h | 0-62 mph 5.8 sec.

Fuel consumption and CO2 emissions

Fuel Milage (km/l) 26 mpg City / 36 mpg Highway

Ratings

Price as Tested (PHP) PhP 4,590,000.00
What's Great The standard is back. Beauty, brains, and ability like no other in its class.
What's Not So Price
C! Editors Rating 10/10
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