The calmer, more composed Luxury spec is the one to choose when it comes to the BMW 330i in Singapore, but do M Sport fans have a way out?
This is the Luxury variant of the new, seventh-gen BMW 3 Series. Usually, it’s not a big deal because the M Sport version (below, in blue) is the volume seller.
Right now, it’s important because the 330i is the only engine choice for the car so far. We expect a 320i and 318i, as well as the rather quick M340i, in the near future but BMW hasn’t given any confirmation of when that will happen.
But the CarBuyer verdict is in: As detailed in our review, the BMW 330i M Sport is fantastically sporty, but has a very busy ride because of its harsh suspension setup, magnified by the sportier M Suspension and larger 19-inch wheels (below, with M Sport Brakes shown).
The seventh-gen 3 Series is a seriously good car, but this is quite a sticking point, since a ride quality is becoming increasingly important in Singapore, and it’s not just because of the increasing number of white hairs on my head.
BMW 330i Luxury goes for a more modest look with wheels an inch down in size
While torque can make up for less total engine power in the modern turbo age, Singapore’s roads have been degenerating like vampires exposed to light. And in a car that seems to straight-up trade comfort for cornering fun, it’s a double negative since you won’t have fun when you’re driving normally, and an un-composed car saps you of confidence when you’re trying to go quicker.
In happy contrast, Audi has done the exact opposite with its new A4 sedan, now offering a Comfort suspension option that proved to be tremendously composed, comfortable and a breath of fresh air in a world of huge wheels and jiggly ride quality, while the Mercedes-Benz C-Class likewise has no problem with its suspension, even in its more aggressive forms.
Granted, a 3er needs to feel more agile and alive than either of those cars, but it’s double weird to think that this isn’t the first time it’s happened: The previous F30 model in 316i M Sport trim behaved similar to the current G20.
“We’ve been here before!” The 2013 BMW 316i M Sport was also quite jiggly…
Thankfully, the 330i Luxury tones down the brittle nature of the 330i M Sport’s suspension a little – it lacks the stiffer M Sport suspension and has smaller 18-inch wheels.
It’s far more composed, has less of the constant jiggle and thump at all speeds. This is a 3 Series you can drive around town and not wonder if the bushings were left out by accident.
Even then, the sporty setup of the 3 Series is still quite apparent. It feels almost like an 8 Series in suspension terms just on the border of ‘too sporty’ and the really bad stuff around MRT construction will still have you moving in your seat a little.
But on the whole it’s acceptable for Singapore, and leaves you in a far better temper to enjoy the long list of pluses the interior of the 3 Series has to offer. BMW’s new OS 7.0 is amongst the best in terms of human-machine interface. Besides the minor quirk of the tach going the wrong way, the 12.3-inch virtual instruments are easy to read and look great.
With Audi and Mercedes-Benz killing off their rotary controllers, BMW is the last German carmaker to continue offering one, and it’s a good move for a driver-focused car, but goes one better by including a touchscreen.
You can do lots of things hands-off though, from changing the fan speed or ambient lighting to thanks to the Intelligent Personal Assistant, which is pretty much an in-car Siri and the most advanced and useful in-car voice assistant around.
Which is not to say that the 330i Luxury is only good for hanging around in. With the ‘30i’ models now long transitioned to 2.0-litre turbocharged fours, combining almost 260hp with very acceptable efficiency figures isn’t a pipe dream.
The only weight the Luxury badge adds is perceived, so it’s no slower around corners, and you can muster up a fantastic amount of cornering speed with the car seemingly unimpressed and fully capable of more. If anything we assure you that 95 percent of drivers will be able to go just as fast, if not faster, than the M Sport, all other things remaining the same.
So, in Singapore, is the automatic choice of a 330i the Luxury model? At this point in time, yes.
There’s a S$15k price difference between the two, and besides the wheel and suspension differences mentioned the Luxury also lacks the Harman Kardon sound system, LED fog lights, variable sport steering, M Sport brakes, the M body kit, and has wood trim instead of aluminium on the interior.
In other words, unless you’re truly, madly, deeply in love with M Sport (and we know some of you are, but you’ve probably already bought the car) then the obvious choice is the Luxury model.
But before we wrap up there’s one more kicker: BMW says that from August on, all BMW 330i M Sport models will have the adaptive M Suspension as standard, instead of the fixed-rate, kidney-bruising one.
We won’t know if it rides better until we actually test it, but if you can’t wait, and want to save S$15k, the Lux model is a solid choice. Just remember, that when it comes to a 3er, Luxury doesn’t mean lazy.
BMW 330i Luxury
|Engine||1,998cc, inline 4, turbocharged|
|Power||258hp at 5000-6500rpm|
|Torque||400Nm at 1550-4400rpm|
|Top Speed||5.8 seconds|
|VES Band / CO2||B / 147g/km|
|Agent||Performance Motors Limited|
|Price||S$226,888 with COE|