The new 2019 BMW 3 Series still has much to offer in a segment undergoing rapid evolution.
What is it?
The BMW 3 Series is a compact premium performance sedan with room for five passengers. The 3 Series was responsible for the establishment and development of the segment in which it resides. It has faced renewed pressure from competitors in recent years. However, as we found in our testing, the iconic 3 Series still has much to offer a buyer with certain priorities.
Pricing and trims
The 3 Series is a line of cars from BMW. The 3 Series starts around $43K and can rise to about $65K depending upon options and trims.
Our 330i xDrive with all-wheel drive and the base 2.0-liter gasoline engine had an as-tested price of $58,220. That price included the M Sport Package $5,000, Executive Package $2,100, Premium Package $2,800, Driver Assistance Pro Package $1,700, Black Vernasca Leather $1,700, wireless charging $500, and Harman Kardon surround-sound $875.
Performance, Ride, and handling
The 3 Series is nothing without performance, and the 330i xDrive is a fun car to drive in real-world situations. Despite its many options, our tester came with the base engine developing 255 hp. That’s about the same power a Honda Accord 2.0T has and less than a Nissan Maxima costing about $20K less. However, the real competitor to the 3 Series is neither of those cars. It is the Tesla Model 3. Although the 330i xDrive has a respectable 295 lb-ft of torque at a low 1,550 RPM, it just does not have the immediate acceleration snap that the electric-drive Tesla offers for the same price point.
On backcountry roads, the 330i xDrive is brilliant. Steering is precise, the car handles flat and hugs the curves. It is a joy to drive. The suspension is firm, even when set to “comfort” mode, but we think that most BMW buyers will want that. This is a car that begs for you to take the long way home.
Surprisingly, one of the things that impressed us most about this BMW was the quality and comfort of the interior. In every respect, BMW seems to make the right design choices. The seats are simply outstanding. High-quality leather with heat and adjustments galore. We love the thigh extensions. BMW also does not crowd the driver’s right knee. The 3 Series fit this tester’s 6-foot frame perfectly and the car has headroom and legroom to spare.
The 13 cubic foot trunk of the 3 Series is ample for a car this size. If you want more, the BMW X3 is perhaps the best option.
Infotainment and controls
We loved the touch-screen interface of the BMW 330i xDrive. There is a remote interface rotary knob, but you don’t have to use it for much. The steering wheel and AC controls are easy to operate without looking. The multi-color, full-function head-up display is also a big part of keeping your eyes forward and your hands on the wheel. Our tester included Apple CarPlay integration, but not Android Auto.
There is no hiding the fact the Tesla Model 3 has reshaped this segment in its own likeness. Full electrification is the future of premium performance overall, and in this segment, it is the present. That said, BMW’s 330i xDrive makes sense in many ways. Its range, convenience, and flexibility surpass the Model 3. Its interior and infotainment are at an entirely different level. The handling and ride quality is as good or better. Those who have always wanted a BMW 3 Series, and for whom a gasoline engine is desirable, should know that this new version is superb.