2023 BMW 330i M Sport Sedan Review – Keeping the Flame Burning
2023 BMW 330i M Sport Sedan Fast Facts
As a general rule, my biggest recent beef with BMW sedans has been that they feel a bit heavy and porky. A tad ponderous. Not so much that I’d eliminate them from my shopping list (in the fantasy world where an automotive journalist actually can afford a car in this class), but enough to notice.
Imagine my pleasant surprise, then, when I piloted a BMW 330i sedan that felt rather sprightly.
I am sure the lack of all-wheel drive hardware and the associated weight savings helped here, along with, quite obviously, the M Sport package. All-wheel drive is fine, even necessary in some places, but if one can live without out, one can often achieve better fuel economy and get better performance from a lighter vehicle.
The latter seems true with these 330i. Put simply, it was a delight to drive. It did still feel porkier than BMWs past – of course, just about all cars have seen size bloat over the years – but relative to what’s currently on offer, this 3-Series felt nice and light on its feet.
It’s also a testament to what a properly tuned twin-turbo four-pot can do – and how, if one is judicious with the options box, one can get a fun 3-Series at a relatively reasonable price.
The 2.0-liter twin-turbocharged four-cylinder makes 255 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque, and it serves up smooth and powerful acceleration with a sweet soundtrack that makes you think there are more cylinders under the hood. The eight-speed automatic transmission mostly shifts slickly – though there’s the occasional stumble into a stiff shift. That said, this is a car that begs for a manual.
As mentioned, the handling is light on its feet, though the tradeoff there is a ride that occasionally gets too stiff, typically when dealing with broken urban pavement. At least the proceedings can be arrested by stout brakes.
You can, of course, play with the drive modes to your heart’s content, but even in the least-performance-friendly modes the car gives you some grins.
While the 330i is a joy to drive, there are tradeoffs. The interior feels cramped and BMW’s iDrive infotainment system, while much improved over the years, still requires a bit too much fiddling in order to perform relatively simple functions. And while the interior materials are nice and price appropriate, they don’t feel special – though I did dig the curved display.
It’s weird to call a car that costs more than $50K a bargain, but the as-tested price isn’t that far above the current average transaction price. The base price is actually lower, at a tick over $42K. That price puts the 330i at or below the same level as some boring family-oriented sedans and crossovers. Think about that – you can buy a crossover or for the same money you can instead get a sport sedan that can play on the backroads and still take your kids to school in style.
The base price included satellite radio, a curved center-screen display, navigation, smart cruise control, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, a moonroof, multi-zone climate control, LED headlights, automatic high beams, and rain-sensing windshield wipers.
Options included the $650 Portimao Blue Metallic exterior paint, a $700 driving-assistance package (active-driving assistant, lane-departure warning, blind-spot detection), a $1,200 Dynamic Handling package (M Sport brakes with
blue-painted calipers), the M Sport package (19-inch wheels, adaptive suspension, variable sport steering, ash grey wood trim, M steering wheel, anthracite headliner, $3,100), Premium package ($1,350; heated steering wheel, heated front seats, keyless entry, driver lumbar support), and various and sundry items such as Harman Kardon audio and a remote start.With destination, that’s $51,390.
While I suspect that this car would be fun to drive even without the M Sport package, it seems like a necessary selection for the adaptive suspension. Either way, a tick over $50K seems like a bargain for BMW performance these days. Equipped as my test car was, you get a fun-to-drive sport sedan with some upscale features.
BMWs can be bloated, both in terms of weight and price. But be selective with the option box and you can get a BMW 3-Series that conjures the spirit of the lightweight luxury sport sedans of the past. You know, what the 3-Series was when we older Millennials were getting our driver’s licenses.
Only a manual-transmission choice would improve this car.
The 2023 BMW 330i M Sport stands as a reminder of what once made BMWs so fun. More of this, please.
[Images © 2023 Tim Healey/TTAC.com]
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