2022 BMW 3 Series review

The BMW 3 Series restored its reputation as the class-leading mid-sized sedan with the launch of the current G20 model in 2017, but the luxury car game moves fast.

Audi launched the updated A4 in 2021, and 2022 will see the arrival of the latest Mercedes-Benz C-Class – although you could be forgiven for thinking it’s just an S-Class that’s been shrunk in the wash, such is the level of technology on offer.

There’s also strong competition from the Genesis G70 to consider, and more luxuriously-specced options in the Mazda 6 and Hyundai Sonata ranges nipping at heels of more established luxury brands.

We know the 3 Series will be updated at some stage in 2022, but we don’t know exactly when it will be revealed or when it will arrive in Australia. With that in mind, the car you see here will need to carry the flag for at least the next six months.

Does the 3 Series still have what it takes to impress in 2022?

WATCH: Paul’s video review of the 320i M Sport

How much does the BMW 330i M Sport cost?

The BMW 330i M Sport on test here is priced at $79,900 before on-road costs, putting it head-to-head with the Audi A4 45 TFSI S line and Mercedes-Benz C300 sedans.

It represents the sweet spot in the BMW 3 Series range. A 320i with the same equipment list as the 330i is barely $4000 less expensive, and that doesn’t take into account the extra performance on offer in the 330i.

  • BMW 320i Luxury Line sedan: $71,900
  • BMW 320i M Sport sedan: $71,900
  • BMW 330i Luxury Line sedan: $79,900
  • BMW 330i M Sport sedan: $79,900
  • BMW 330i Touring Luxury Line wagon: $83,900
  • BMW 330i Touring M Sport wagon: $83,900
  • BMW 330e Luxury Line sedan: $86,900
  • BMW 330e M Sport sedan: $86,900
  • BMW M340i xDrive Pure sedan: $101,900
  • BMW M340i xDrive sedan: $111,900

All prices exclude on-road costs.

What do you get?

BMW 330i highlights:

  • 19-inch alloy wheels
  • Semi-autonomous parking assist
  • Vernasca leather upholstery
  • Adaptive cruise control with stop/go (currently N/A due to semiconductor shortage)
  • Surround-view camera
  • Front cross-traffic alert
  • Lane-keeping assist
  • BMW Digital Key
  • Keyless entry

M Sport models gain:

  • Sports suspension
  • M Sport exterior appearance package
  • Aluminium Tetragon interior trim

That’s atop the following kit, which is standard on the 320i:

  • 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster
  • 10.25-inch touch screen infotainment system
  • Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto
  • DAB+ digital radio
  • Satellite navigation
  • Head-up display
  • Automatic LED headlights with LED daytime running lights
  • Automatic high-beam
  • Rain-sensing wipers
  • Keyless entry and start
  • Front and rear parking sensors
  • Reversing camera
  • Heated and folding exterior mirrors
  • Wireless phone charging (currently missing due to semiconductor shortage)
  • Vernasca leather upholstery (Luxury Line) or Alcantara/Sensatec upholstery (M Sport)
  • Wood trim
  • 10-speaker sound system
  • 18-inch alloy wheels

Is the BMW 330i M Sport safe?

The BMW 3 Series was crash tested by ANCAP back in 2019 and received a five-star safety rating.

It scored 97 per cent for adult occupant protection, 87 per cent for child occupant protection, 87 per cent for vulnerable road user protection, and 77 per cent for safety assist.

Standard safety features across the 3 Series line-up includes:

  • Autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian detection
  • Lane departure warning
  • Blind-spot monitoring
  • Driver attention monitoring
  • Rear cross-traffic alert
  • Reversing camera
  • Front and rear parking sensors
  • Eight airbags

The 330i on test also featured:

  • Front cross-traffic alert
  • Lane-keep assist
  • Semi-autonomous parking assist
  • Surround-view camera

What is the BMW 330i M Sport like on the inside?

By now, the design language of the 3 Series has spread across the BMW range. That’s a good thing, because it does a great job blending form and function.

As is usually the case with BMW cars, the ergonomics of the cabin are exceptional. The driver’s seat drops right down to the floor, the steering wheel comes out nicely to meet the driver, and everything you need to poke or prod is within easy reach.

It sounds simple, but BMW consistently gets the basics right where others don’t.

BMW iDrive 7.0 is one of the best infotainment systems in the business. The central 12.3-inch screen is crystal clear, and can be controlled using Hey BMW voice prompts, touch inputs, and a rotary controller on the transmission tunnel. Sounds confusing, but each is useful at different times.

You also get wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, which means you can bypass the native navigation and use Apple or Google maps, or more easily access podcasts on the move.

The digital driver’s display is less excellent. It’s visually busy, and doesn’t have the same range of layout options you get in Audi’s excellent Virtual Cockpit, although you still get all the information you need about speed, revs, and your trip computer.

There’s plenty of storage spaces on offer, from the wireless phone charger and cupholders under a damped lid, to the decent-sized underarm bin. There are also door bins with space for big bottles, and a spacious glovebox.

Rear seat space is up there with the best in class, allowing for adults to sit behind adults provided neither is freakishly tall. Headroom is also good, and the bench itself is wide enough to ride three-up for shorter trips. With a relatively conventional three-box design, you get plenty of light through the tall windows.

You get air vents in the rear, along with dual USB-C chargers to keep the kids happy. There’s a fold-down central armrest, and spacious door bins, and the door opening is wider than that of some lower-volume Korean and Italian rivals. That means you’re able to more easily load in children or bags.

There are ISOFIX points on the outboard rear seats, and three top-tether mounts for child seats.

Boot space is a claimed 480 litres, and the boot opening is impressively square and wide. Although sedans aren’t known for the practicality in a world dominated by SUVs, there are a few neat little practical touches in the back of the latest 3er.

The rear bench folds 40/20/40, and there are deep pockets behind the wheel arches that are perfect for dirty shoes you want to keep separate from the rest of your cargo, or valuables you don’t want sliding around.

What’s under the bonnet?

Power in the BMW 330i comes from a turbocharged 2.0-litre petrol engine with 190kW of power and 400Nm of torque.

It’s sent to the rear wheels through an eight-speed automatic transmission as standard. The 100km/h sprint takes a claimed 5.8 seconds, and claimed fuel economy is 6.4 litres per 100km on the combined cycle.

The car has a 59-litre fuel tank, and drinks 95 RON premium unleaded fuel as a minimum.

How does the BMW 330i M Sport drive?

The 3 Series is expected to walk a tricky tightrope. Not only does it need to be well-mannered on the daily commute, it needs to handle with classic rear-wheel drive balance and poise

Although it can’t quite match the smaller, less practical Jaguar XE and Alfa Romeo Giulia for outright sporting talent, it strikes a near perfect balance between usability and handling.

Unlike the brittle 320i we reviewed in 2021, the 330i on test here features adaptive dampers. Although it’s still Euro-firm, being able to flick into Comfort to smooth out some of the city’s harsher edges gives the 3 Series the degree of polish we’ve come to expect from BMW.

There’s no real need to flick into Sport, because body control is excellent in the more relaxed drive mode. Regardless of mode the 3 Series has a keen front end and classic rear-wheel drive balance, and the more powerful engine in the 330i makes it feel a bit more lively than the 320i.

The steering isn’t overly communicative, and the fat steering wheel rim is a love-or-hate proposition, but the 330i still delivers on the promise of that 3 Series badge.

BMW has backed the balanced rear-drive chassis with a peach of an engine. It’s not a lusty inline six, but the turbo four-pot is buttery smooth and has peak torque on tap between 1550 and 4400rpm, so it pulls strongly in essentially any gear.

There’s fun to be had hanging onto gears as well, revving out happily to redline. It doesn’t really zing through the upper reaches of the rev counter, but it never runs out of puff either.

The eight-speed ZF automatic is unobtrusive at a cruise, shuffling smartly through the gears. Squeeze the accelerator hard and it kicks down quickly, thrusting the engine into its torque band, and you can take charge with the paddles if you’re in the mood.

With one of the best reversing cameras in the business, parking sensors with a handy visual guide, and the full gamut of hands-free parking aids, there’s no excuse for scraping a wheel in the 3 Series. It’s not a compact car anymore, with dimensions that would make E39 5 Series owners feel right at home, but it’s still easy to thread through the city.

It’s a shame BMW isn’t fitting its full suite of active driver assists as standard at the moment, though.

Usually, the 330i would feature adaptive cruise control and a proper steering assistant for highway driving, but the semiconductor crisis means BMW is shipping cars without those features at the moment.

The shorter equipment list is backed by a slightly lower price, but they’re features a premium mid-sized sedan should have in 2022.

How much does the BMW 330i M Sport cost to run?

The BMW 3 Series range is covered by a three-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty with three years of roadside assist.

BMW is stuck in the mud when it comes to warranty, staunchly refusing to move with the likes of Mercedes-Benz and Jaguar Land Rover to five years of coverage.

Along with Alfa Romeo, it’s one of the few brands still offering a three-year warranty in Australia.

BMW offers a three-year/40,000km service pack for $1450, and a five-years/80,000km package for $1750.

CarExpert’s Take on the BMW 330i M Sport

BMW might not be defined by the 3 Series anymore, but it’s arguably the best car the brand makes in 2022.

Not only is the 3 Series still right up there as a class-leader, the 330i is the sweet spot in the range. It offers a brilliant blend of practicality, performance, and everyday comfort, wrapped in a design that hits all the right notes.

It’s not perfect, though. The chip crunch has hit BMW hard, and the fact the 330i doesn’t currently come with adaptive cruise control as standard (and that some owners have missed out on touchscreens) undermines its credentials as a premium sedan.

We’d recommend searching (or waiting) for a car with a full equipment list. Not only will it make the car better day-to-day, it should pay off come trade-in time.

If you’re happy to pocket a few hundred extra dollars and go without that kit, you’re still getting a brilliant mid-sized sedan. The 3 Series still sets the standards, and the new C-Class will have to be very good to knock it off its perch.

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