The BMW 3 Series needs little introduction, having long ago set a benchmark for how a small upscale car should look and drive. The current generation arrived as a 2019 model aimed at a wider range of buyers than the driving enthusiasts the car has typically targeted.
What’s New/Key Changes From Last Year
For 2021, BMW has rolled out the latest plug-in hybrid version of the 3 Series, dubbed 330e.
All 3 Series trim levels are built around whichever powertrain you choose. The entry point is the 330i, which shares its 2.0L turbo four-cylinder engine with the 330e PHEV. The only other option is the M340i, which gets a turbo inline six-cylinder engine.
All-wheel drive (xDrive) is standard in the 330i and optional in 330e and M340i trims. All 3 Series variants come standard with an eight-speed automatic transmission.
BMW 330i and 330e models come with 18-inch wheels and run-flat tires, leatherette upholstery, a leather-trimmed steering wheel, dynamic cruise control, tire pressure monitoring, satin aluminum exterior trim, a sunroof, auto-dimming rearview and side mirrors, rain-sensing wipers, heated front sport seats with driver’s electric adjustments, front and rear parking sensors, automatic climate control, LED headlights with automatic high beams, Bluetooth, and Apple CarPlay connectivity.
The M340i moves up to 19-inch wheels, leather upholstery, a heated steering wheel, M sport brakes, suspension and differential, and a trim-specific aerodynamic treatment.
330i and 330e options include leather upholstery in a variety of colourways. An M Sport package adds a choice of paints not offered otherwise, along with larger wheels, shift paddles, LED fog lights, and sport steering.
The Premium Package Essential bundles passive keyless entry, wireless smartphone charging, LED fog lights, lumbar support, and a heated steering wheel.
An Advanced Driver Assistance pack adds active cruise control, lane control/lane keeping assistant, front cross traffic warning, traffic jam assistant, and surround-view exterior cameras.
A Premium Enhanced package brings automatic trunk opening, ambient lighting, a WiFi hotspot, and a head-up display.
Finally, the Premium Excellence package adds leather, laser headlights, leatherette dash trim, heated rear seats, an integrated garage door remote, a Harman/Kardon stereo, digital gauge display, and a drive recorder.
To the M340i you can add a track package, and the Advanced Driver Assistance, Premium Enhanced and Premium Excellent packages.
As of this writing, BMW has not published fuel consumption estimates for the 2021 3 Series. Ratings for the 330i and M340i should be similar to last year’s figures of 9.5/6.9 L/100 km (city/highway) and 11.4/8.3 L/100 km, respectively. We’ll update this buyer’s guide article when the 330e’s estimates are revealed.
Through the years, the 3 Series has inspired a raft of competitive models. Its German comps are the Audi A4 and Mercedes-Benz C-Class, while Italy’s Alfa Romeo offers the Giulia. Sweden sends the Volvo S60. Japan makes a valiant effort with the Lexus IS, Infiniti’s Q50, and the Acura TLX. The Cadillac CT5 is the only domestic car that takes a serious run at the 3 Series, and the Genesis G70 is South Korea’s recent and well-executed small sport sedan.