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Old 08-05-2019, 02:00 PM   #1
robg
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BMW 330 xdrive loaner review (G20)

Doubt many of you will care since this is about a 4 cylinder, automatic BMW no less. But for posterity...

Got a chance to try the new G20 3 series when my x3 was in for an oil change. Overall, it's probably the best "compact exec" car on the market today and they've pretty much improved everything from the F30 (except the looks). They finally fixed the loose on-center steering feel, and the 4 cyl engine now feels almost as smooth as my 6 at idle (a complaint I had about previous BMW 4 cyl applications). The dreaded fake engine sound is, of course, present although personally I don't mind it. It's quick, has a great powertrain, handles well, has a great interior, and probably the best infotainment on the market. They've continued to improve their tuning of the ZF 8 speed and the downshifts are now easily in DCT territory. Considering you'll probably be able to lease something like this for $400/month, it'd be hard to say no.

Except...for those looks. From the side it kind resembles the Lexus GS in its slab sided blockiness. Also dont like that exaggerated upward swoop on the lower body. The front looks like a cartoon drawing of a BMW and the rear is just generic. I did see one in blue (I think they call it mediterranean blue) and sort of liked it. The 6 cyl (m40i) version is even worse with its bronze painted mirror caps and weird grille design:
https://bmw.spoolstreet.com/attachme...056-png.25261/

The only saving grace are the RWD proportions.

On the interior, my only real complaint was that the loaner was equipped with Sensatec (fake leather) seats. As usual, my back was covered in sweat within about 10 minutes of driving (despite AC on max). Renewed my hatred of fake leather-- but it seems to be spreading in its usage. Atleast BMW gives you an option to avoid it. Porsche, Dodge, Land Rover and a few others offer microfiber (fake suede) as an option on some of their models which would be much better. Also wasn't a big fan of the "aluminum mesh" dash trim with lines printed on it. But i guess that's also easy to avoid.



Overall, it's kind of one of those "tree falls in a forest" cars. BMW has probably produced one of their technically best cars ever, but with its looks will anyone care? Maybe the 4 series gran coupe version will improve things (can't get worse atleast).
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Old 08-05-2019, 02:26 PM   #2
Josh (PA)
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This is very similar to the experience I had with the 5 series (530 x-drive) loaner I had last week when my x5 was in for an airbag recall.

I'd prefer to not own the 4 cylinder engine, but it was surprisingly responsive for a car of that size. It was also a lot smoother than in any of the other implementations that I tried.

The interior was very comfortable. The seats were standard excellent BMW shape and support. The most impressive piece of tech to me was the voice recognition. Basically you could have a conversation with the car and it would figure out exactly what you wanted. I have a friend with a pretty thick russian accent and he fumbled through asking the car to take him to an address (that he got half wrong) and it just figured it out. It took text dictation perfectly. The gesture thing was dumb and the depth of menus on the i-drive has gotten a bit overwhelming, but none of it mattered when you could just tell the car what to do.

I played with the dynamic cruise with the keep in your lane self driving. It was not confidence inspiring, but it was easy to disable. That's one of the thing I continue to appreciate in BMWs... the allowance to shut off nannies and do things like enter an address while driving, etc.

It drove well, felt like a nice solid old school 5 series. I was very surprised after the time I spent recently in the 2 series and f30 3 series and some other BMWs that lost their way. It is a well executed car.
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Old 08-05-2019, 06:35 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by Josh (PA) View Post
This is very similar to the experience I had with the 5 series (530 x-drive) loaner I had last week when my x5 was in for an airbag recall.

I'd prefer to not own the 4 cylinder engine, but it was surprisingly responsive for a car of that size. It was also a lot smoother than in any of the other implementations that I tried.

The interior was very comfortable. The seats were standard excellent BMW shape and support. The most impressive piece of tech to me was the voice recognition. Basically you could have a conversation with the car and it would figure out exactly what you wanted. I have a friend with a pretty thick russian accent and he fumbled through asking the car to take him to an address (that he got half wrong) and it just figured it out. It took text dictation perfectly. The gesture thing was dumb and the depth of menus on the i-drive has gotten a bit overwhelming, but none of it mattered when you could just tell the car what to do.

I played with the dynamic cruise with the keep in your lane self driving. It was not confidence inspiring, but it was easy to disable. That's one of the thing I continue to appreciate in BMWs... the allowance to shut off nannies and do things like enter an address while driving, etc.

It drove well, felt like a nice solid old school 5 series. I was very surprised after the time I spent recently in the 2 series and f30 3 series and some other BMWs that lost their way. It is a well executed car.
Definitely. The voice recognition is the best I've experienced in a car. I also tried using the wake-up word ("Hey BMW") instead of the button, and it worked well.

The new-style climate control buttons are a bit small and fussy so I actually used voice recognition to set the temp.
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Old 08-05-2019, 08:05 PM   #4
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With no manual, except maybe the M3/M4, it’s hard to care much.

I accept that the autos are objectively better, but... Meh. At this point, I’m really just waiting for good self driving cars (if that ever happens). If the cars are all boring to drive, then I don’t want to drive.
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Old 08-05-2019, 10:25 PM   #5
Alan
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Great review but am surprised you donít like the design, I saw an M340 the other day and loved the design.

I think it looks great and it sounds like they took the tech Iím enjoying in my 540 and took it to the next level.
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Old 08-06-2019, 06:51 AM   #6
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The new 330 is also gigantic in size.

I always think itís a 5 series until I get closer and see the odd styling embellishments.

I understand why they did this óbut the entry level car is 3700 pounds and larger than any 5 series in recent memory.
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Old 08-06-2019, 08:23 AM   #7
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I agree there are odd style embellishments, best way to put it. I don't think it looks all that bad. Not that distinct but not bad. It does look large on the outside but did not feel very different on the inside from my own car. I drove my car to a G20 event at Meadowlands, took 2nd place out of 25. All the G20's were 330, RWD, m-sport, track package and a nice dark blue. The 4-cyl responded very well, much better than f30 328i, but I haven't driven the f30 330i. It wasn't a quantum leap over my LCI 340i. I didn't notice a steering feel difference. It may have "sat" a bit better on tarmac, but that's the slightly lighter nose as well (rwd/4-cyl) as opposed to my awd.

I'm happy I'm in one of the last manual 340's.
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Old 08-06-2019, 11:48 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by equ View Post
I agree there are odd style embellishments, best way to put it. I don't think it looks all that bad. Not that distinct but not bad. It does look large on the outside but did not feel very different on the inside from my own car. I drove my car to a G20 event at Meadowlands, took 2nd place out of 25. All the G20's were 330, RWD, m-sport, track package and a nice dark blue. The 4-cyl responded very well, much better than f30 328i, but I haven't driven the f30 330i. It wasn't a quantum leap over my LCI 340i. I didn't notice a steering feel difference. It may have "sat" a bit better on tarmac, but that's the slightly lighter nose as well (rwd/4-cyl) as opposed to my awd.

I'm happy I'm in one of the last manual 340's.
The steering issue that bugged me on F30s was a sense of looseness or vagueness on-center when travelling straight at highway speeds. Last f30 I drove as a 2017 330 wagon a few years ago though. My RWD F10 had this characteristic as well.

Guess I'm in the minority with my negative reaction to the styling. In darker colors, its tolerable.

Speaking of manual 340s, there was a letter in the latest Roundel from a guy who wrote in to say that he bought 2 of the last manual 340s from his dealer (one for him and one for his wife) cause he liked it so much!
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Old 08-06-2019, 11:50 AM   #9
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Great review but am surprised you don’t like the design, I saw an M340 the other day and loved the design.

I think it looks great and it sounds like they took the tech I’m enjoying in my 540 and took it to the next level.
Yeah the new G20 (along w/ the X5 and x7) has idrive 7 whereas the 5 has idrive 6. Other than some confusing settings menus, they've really knocked it out of the park as far as i can tell. I'd never buy a car just for the infotainment, but this was a pleasure to use. Glad that BMW has stuck with the controller knob (while adding touch). So much easier/quicker to use while driving. Disappointed that Audi ditched their MMI controller w/ the latest version. You can tell that BMW continues to methodically refine their system; keeping what works and fixing what doesn't. One small nitpick was that they've made the buttons that surround the controller more "flush" so they're harder to use by feel (and don't feel as good to press)
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Old 08-06-2019, 12:05 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by robg View Post
The steering issue that bugged me on F30s was a sense of looseness or vagueness on-center when travelling straight at highway speeds. Last f30 I drove as a 2017 330 wagon a few years ago though. My RWD F10 had this characteristic as well.
I've heard complaints about the steering on F30's for years but I've never driven an F30. I test drove an F80 3 years ago and didn't really notice it then. I certainly don't feel it on my ZCP F80, and I got back and forth with a NC Miata all the time.

I'd be curious to hear from any of you who have driven both the F80 and the F30.
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