BMW’s nomenclature is now well out of sync with the engines you’ll find under their bonnets, so it’s no surprise that this new 2019 BMW 330i model uses a 254bhp 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo petrol engine.
Still no straight-six here owing to the quest for efficiency – and on that subject this car will return as much as 47.9mpg and emit 134g/km CO2 in M Sport trim as tested.
However, this is sportiest 3 Series available from launch, and with this seventh-generation model’s renewed focus on driving dynamics, this is the car that showcases what the new 3 Series can do.
With 400Nm of torque spread between 1,550 and 4,400rpm, you don’t always have to rev the 330i, but when you do there’s a nice rasp as you ramp up towards its 5,000rpm power peak. However, it does feel a little flat after this, so you’re best shifting up.
The eight-speed automatic gearbox is as good as in the 320d. It’s smooth and switches gears quick enough for the engine performance on offer. The package delivers a 0-62mph time of 5.8 seconds, which is certainly quick enough.
Our test car was fitted with optional 19-inch wheels (noticeable over 18s) and the steering felt marginally better weighted than in the 320d as a result.
Variable Sport steering is also standard, and there’s less of a difference between this adaptive set-up and the regular tune than with previous 3 Series.
The rate of response is easy to get to grips with and it quickly becomes natural tipping into roundabouts. It’s adjusting your line through a faster corner where this set-up feels more settled and better matched to the car than before.
The 330i also gets a locking M Sport differential as an option, which boosts the agility and the 3 Series’ trademark rear-driven feel. You can subtly adjust the car’s line with the throttle and as xDrive isn’t available as with the 320d, this is the purist’s choice.