2019 BMW 3-Series

By October 7, 2019

The BMW 3-Series has been shorthand for “sport sedan” for generations. It’s new for the 2019 model year, and now comes in 330i and 330xi editions. 

The 2019 3-Series is a bit bigger than the previous car, with about two inches more space between the wheels for better interior room. It’s slightly wider and taller, and its body has been reshaped for more drama, from its bigger chin to its slimmer headlamps. Inside, the cabin adopts the flow of the futuristic i8, and flashes colorful digital displays.

Power still comes from a 2.0-liter turbo-4, now making 255 horsepower, mated to an  8-speed automatic transmission. The manual gearbox has been discontinued.

The EPA rates the new 330i at 26 mpg city, 36 highway, 30 combined; it’s 25/34/28 mpg for the 330xi. 

The NHTSA hasn’t crash-tested the new sedan yet, but the IIHS calls it a Top Safety Pick+. LED headlights and automatic emergency braking are standard for 2019. Optional safety features include active lane control and adaptive cruise control. 

Model Lineup

The $41,245 330i comes with leather upholstery, 18-inch wheels with all-season run-flat 225/45 tires, a sunroof, power front seats, oak trim, and AM/FM/HD radio with Bluetooth and audio streaming. It lacks Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, which is optional with an annual charge after the first year. The 330xi adds all-wheel drive.

On the options list, CarPlay comes with navigation, a head-up display, and heated seats in a $2,800 package. BMW also offers leather upholstery, keyless entry, blind-spot monitors, satellite radio, and a bundle with active lane control, adaptive cruise, and traffic-jam assist. Another package adds automatic high beams, a surround-view camera system, gesture controls for infotainment, and matrix-LED headlights. An M Sport package gains variable sport steering, 19-inch wheels, synthetic leather dash, and aluminum or wood trim, while a track package gets M Sport brakes, sport differential, and adaptive dampers.

Stand-alone options include remote start, heated front seats, a power deckled, parking sensors, wood trim, Harman Kardon sound, adaptive cruise control, wireless smartphone charging, and a heated steering wheel.

Exterior

The new 3-Series is balanced in its overall proportion while being more emphatic in some of its details. It remains handsome and slung low from every angle, while looking slightly more sporty than the car it replaces.

The hood and grille are more cohesive, while the chin has more sculpting and wide molded inlets for the foglights. Thinner headlights come standard as LEDs, with the flashy matrix LEDs optional. 

The sheetmetal on the sides has been widened below the beltline, while the kink at the roof angle appears sharper because there are no frames around the rear windows, just black trim at the back edge. 

Interior

The new 3-Series takes interesting ideas from the i8. It gets rid of some round gauges and switches, with a lower dash having wide digital displays that rise to the windshield. Slim ambient lighting pipes into the door handles and armrests in exuberant waves.

We like the latest iDrive infotainment system. It combines a 5.7-inch digital display in the dash with an 8.8-inch screen on the center stack; optionally, there are 12.3-inch digital gauges and a 10.3-inch touchscreen. It understands verbal commands better, can read emails, change temperatures in the cabin, and will allow you give it a name. 

The standard leather seats are wonderfully supportive and widely adjustable, including the length of the bottom cushion. Head room is good, even with the new sedan’s lower roofline. 

The rear seat is more comfortable for two passengers than three. The rear seatbacks fold down to grant access to the trunk and expand cargo storage. 

Driving Impressions

The 2.0-liter turbo-4 makes the most horsepower and torque it has ever made in the 3-Series, 255 hp and 295 pound-feet. It’s quick off the line because it delivers its maximum torque below 2,000 rpm. The 330i can accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in 5.6 seconds and reach a top speed of 155 miles per hour. A more powerful M340i with a marvelous turbo-6 arrives soon. The 8-speed automatic feels as responsive and quick as ever, downright snappy in Sport mode. 

The 3-Series has always been a benchmark for handling, and the latest car’s road manners are communicative in corners. The standard independent suspension is conventional struts and links, while adaptive dampers and wide summer tires are available. We found the ride to be more composed with the standard suspension and tires, and recommend sticking to the basics. 

We also got seat time in cars with the M Sport suspension, which lowers ride height and stiffens the shock valving, and wears those bigger 19-inch wheels and tires. With the M Sport package, the 330i has a more tense and edgy feel that’s  magnified by the thick steering wheel. It rides more firmly thanks to its big tires, and it steers more quickly, especially in firm and heavy Sport mode. 

Final Word

The 2019 BMW 3-Series makes notable gains in handling and quietness over the previous version. It’s powerful, shifts quickly, and tames the road in a way BMW drivers have come to expect. It’s also bigger, with a more usefully shaped interior, and in the most expensive versions it’s truly luxurious. It’s always ready for more power—which comes soon in turbo-6, M3 and plug in form.