2020 BMW 3-Series
For decades, people moving up in the world usually look at one vehicle first before anything else. It has been the gateway towards success and great things.
And it all starts with the BMW 3-Series.
For decades, this has been the one vehicle in the premium market where people start with on their way towards upward mobility. The BMW 3-Series promises to be the “ultimate driving machine” within reach of the newly promoted or the upwardly successful entrepreneur.
Since this is a very popular vehicle in the sports sedan segment, we wanted to try it out for size. We also wanted to see if this car is as good as advertised.
The G20 generation is the latest 3-Series model, introduced for the 2019 model year with a sleeker look than before. The “kidney” grille is a BMW trademark, which identifies this car from afar. However, these grilles are not functional. Air is funneled through a lower grille underneath the “bumper” area. Both headlamp units are LED lighting.
The rest of the 3-Series is a three-box shape that is familiar, but sleek for this new generation. The roofline looks low, but it is about the right height for a sedan in its class. The trunk is finished off with sleeker taillights in the rear.
Inside is a nicely-appointed car, as expected in a 3-Series. A leather-like upholstery feels strong to the touch, but not everything has that same touch. There are a few places that are made of harder plastic, but not ones that would break and crack over time. Controls were also good to the touch. It is good to note that those controls are much easier to use than ever before.
The instrumentation looks analog, but they are not. Each dial is a TFT screen and they’re pretty precise. There is no large information screen in-between the dials, except for a small screen across the bottom of the instrument cluster. You can access certain vehicle information on the infotainment screen in the middle of the center stack.
One feature we were glad to see was wireless smartphone connectivity. It is a one-stop set-up that first connects your Bluetooth, then access your smartphone for mirroring on the infotainment screen. We found that pretty clever on our 330i xDrive tester.
The cabin is on the small side. Taller drivers may want to lower the seat, play with the recline, and/or telescope the steering wheel to fit behind the wheel. We found the bolstering thick and the seatback on the firm side. You can get a family of four inside, or four average sized adults. The trunk space is ample at 13 cubic feet.
The 330i xDrive tester came with BMW’s Twin Power turbocharged four-cylinder engine. The 2.0-liter unit puts out 255 horsepower and 294 pound-feet of torque. Our tester came with an eight-speed automatic transmission and BMW’s xDrive all-wheel-drive system. Performance is solid and offered good acceleration across the line. It is also quite efficient, turning in an average of 29.3 MPG.
Driving dynamics has always been the hallmark of BMW. With that said, we liked the balanced ride quality in our 330i xDrive tester. You can firm it up a bit by putting into Sport mode. The result is a firmer ride and better handling behavior overall. Back in Comfort mode, our 330i xDrive tester was well behaved with excellent maneuverability and cornering.
The steering system is good, with a good turning radius and solid response from the wheel. On-center feel is fine in Comfort mode. Switch it back to Sport mode and the wheel feels heavier – just right for enthusiasts. Stopping power is good in both normal and panic situations. We were concerned about the pedal feel, as it doesn’t feel sure enough. Perhaps it is because BMW uses a brake-by-wire system, which can feel different than the usual hydraulic systems we’re mostly used to.
The 3-Series line normally starts at $41,250 for a rear-drive 330i. Our tester came with a sticker price of $47,585. There are currently six models available in the 3-Series line.
As the leader of the sports sedan segment, the BMW 3-Series often had its imitators and others that challenge its leadership in this class. The 3-Series competes with the Audi A4, Mercedes-Benz C-Class, Volvo S60, Alfa Romeo Giulia, Jaguar XE, Lexus IS, Infiniti Q50, Acura TLX, Genesis G70, Cadillac CT4 and CT5.
Some say that this generation of the BMW 3-Series may have strayed away from past models. However, there are plenty of upwardly mobile customers that still want one. Perhaps it is the allure of the badge – the Roundel that proclaims itself as the “ultimate driving machine.” The BMW 3-Series is still quite a good car for its segment.
Story Credits: CarSoup Editors