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BMW 330d Review
BMW 330d Review
BMW 330d Review

The BMW 330d Coupe is literally in a league of its own. Some car companies make a big fuss about their cars delivering both power and efficiency – for BMW, it’s just common practice.

The problem with reviewing a BMW is just how much each variant can differ from the rest. Take the BMW 3 Series for example, as it’s available in at least 27 different variants. This includes a wide variety of diesel or petrol engines either in manual or automatic. Then there’s the body shapes: wagon, sedan, convertible or coupe. Then there’s the extensive options list which lets you customise your car in many different ways. I am yet to drive a BMW 3 Series that felt anything like the one before it – despite being inherently the same car.

So when it came time to pick up the BMW 330d Coupe, I had no idea what to expect. This is a good attitude to take because every car is different. BMW’s 330d is powered by a 3.0-litre turbo-diesel engine that delivers 180kW and a staggering 520Nm of torque. To put those figures into perspective, the 3 Series flagship, the BMW M3, has 309kW and 400Nm of torque.

That means this ‘down-to-earth’ diesel coupe has more torque than its more expensive high-performance cousin. That’s a good way to start.

If you’re stuck in your old ways you probably wouldn’t expect much in the form of performance from a diesel but let me assure you, with 520Nm of torque on tap the 330d is a proper sports car. The Germans have being doing diesels properly for decades and the refinement of this 3.0-litre turbo-diesel is top notch. The official 0-100km/h time is 6.1 seconds, which is a lot slower than it feels. Meanwhile, fuel economy is a measly 6.2L/100km for the combined cycle (after a week of aggressive driving, the test car returned 7.4L/100km average usage).

BMW 330d Review
BMW 330d Review
BMW 330d Review
BMW 330d Review

But enough about facts and figures, you simply wouldn’t buy a car as interesting as a 330d Coupe if you failed to make an emotional connection with it. From the outside it’s a very aesthetically pleasing design, particularly in black. The bright white glow radiating from the ‘angel-eye’ LED daytime running lamps is a refreshing change in a sea of straight DRL designs.

The side and three-quarter view is very BMW: sleek but modern. It’s not trying to be pretty because it doesn’t need to – its sporty and aggressive design hints at what lies underneath the skin. There is a certain difference between BMW’s styling and that of Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupe, the two German companies are clearly targeting different buyers.

It also commands a different type of respect. The 330d is at the forefront of diesel engineering. It’s a near perfect blend of economical motoring without sacrifice. Some markets have access to a 335d, which offers even more power and torque. Since Mercedes-Benz doesn’t currently offer a high-powered diesel in the C-Class Coupe, the 330d’s main competition comes from the all-wheel drive Audi A5 Coupe 3.0 TDI. The Audi is a few thousand dollars less but delivers similar performance figures (176kW and 500Nm). It would be unfair to compare them head on, as the A5 Coupe is more subtle and elegant in its design while the BMW is sporty and aggressive. This also reflects in their driving dynamics.

BMW 330d Review
BMW 330d Review
BMW 330d Review
BMW 330d Review

Our test car was fitted with a $2920 electric sunroof and $8900 M Sport Innovations package, which although may sound a little pricey at first, is actually a very worthwhile investment as you get an upgraded 8.8-inch colour monitor with satellite navigation, numerous interior improvements, a much nicer M steering wheel, Harman/Kardon sound system (which could almost justify the asking price alone), M aerodynamic package, light-weight 18-inch double-spoke alloys (19s optioned here) and most importantly, M Sport suspension.

Within a few days of driving the 330d Coupe you can easily begin to explore its ride and handling credentials. Like all BMWs of late, the 330d is, by nature, a sports car. The rear-wheel drive layout aided by a heavy steering feel, perfect front-rear weight distribution, balanced throttle control and excellent braking performance make the 330d a tremendous drive. Around the twisty mountain roads of Mount Glorious here in Brisbane, the 330d test car was pushed in and out of tight and hairpin corners repeatedly. Its M sport suspension ensures there is little to no body roll while the lag-less power-delivery from the 3.0-litre diesel made me question my undying love for the 335i. The six-speed automatic transmission is a far cry from the seven-speed dual-clutch system now found in numerous (petrol-powered) BMWs but still does a good job.

The M Sport suspension can be a little hard at times (you can option it with less stiffness, if you desire) if all you do is drive around town, but if you’ve got even a modest interest in spirited driving, you’ll quickly realise the trade-off is worth it. The chunky M Sport steering wheel is a godsend and fits perfectly in your hands. If you must, you can use the steering wheel mounted paddle shifters (which, annoyingly, move with the steering wheel) to manually change gears. The electronic nanny controls do tend to interfere a bit more than I would like, but a little bit early is better than a little bit late.

BMW 330d Review
BMW 330d Review
BMW 330d Review
BMW 330d Review

Being a well-balanced sports car doesn’t mean the 330d doesn’t bite. With that much torque going to the rear wheels, wet weather is not your best friend. If things get a little out of hand, a whole heap of driver-input correction is done by BMW’s array of electronic gadgetry. This includes (but is not limited to) automatic stability and traction control (ASC+T), cornering brake control (CBC), dynamic brake control (DBC), dynamic stability control (DSC) and dynamic traction control (DTC).

Essentially, if you decide to take a corner but have gone in a little too fast, taken the wrong line or hit a wet patch mid-corner, the car’s on-board computers will quickly jump to your aid. As that sinking feeling of “oh oh” is just about to rush through your synapses, the 330d has already begun applying brake or power to individual wheels, greatly influencing the car’s behaviour and direction. In a few milliseconds, your potentially near-death experience has turned into a “look how good I saved that one” feeling. For the purists, you can indeed turn most of these controls off, but given how much fun you can have with them still on, I wouldn’t recommend it.

The interior of modern day BMWs is a subject of much debate in the CarAdvice office. Some of us think their simplicity is perfect but I am of the thought that it’s just a little too basic. Compared with the Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupe, the 3 Series Coupe’s interior is more spartan in its design and organisation. However, the iDrive system coupled to the 8.8-inch high-resolution screen is a better choice than Merc’s COMAND system.

BMW 330d Review
BMW 330d Review
BMW 330d Review
BMW 330d Review

Native support for Bluetooth telephone connectivity is standard but we couldn’t get the wireless music audio streaming working as easily. USB input will let you plug in your iPhone/iPod or a simple memory stick to enjoy your music. The Harman/Kardon Surround Sound System is top notch with excellent bass and clarity.

BMW’s sport seats can feel a little tight if you frequent KFC but are otherwise snug and very supportive. The 330d can accommodate four adults comfortably even for long distance drives. There are a few reasons this is possible but the primary one is that it’s designed for Germans, and Germans are tall.

It’s hard to fault the $94,700 BMW 330d Coupe. If I had to be pedantic I could say the diesel engine sound can be a little too intrusive when in traffic, but then again, that’s why the stereo is so good. If you’ve got about 100k to spend on an ultra-sophisticated European coupe and have a soft spot for performance diesels, it’s almost impossible to look past the 330d. The reality is, whatever your needs, BMW has a car to match. You can’t beat their driving dynamics and inherently engineered sporty nature.




  • t39

    However good this one maybe, I’d rather wait a few months and get the new shape, just released, which will be current for many years to come.

    • laurie

      You may not get the 330d in the new shape! I was under the impression they are all 4 cylinder engines then again I stand to be corrected as always

      • nesh

        Nope the 6 cylinder twin turbo remains. Also, the 330d will probably be released at a later date… Diesels are volume sellers in Europe. Whether it comes here depends on the sales of the current 330d. Given Merc sells a 3.0 litre diesel with its C class, BMW will more than likely compete with its own.

      • Jacob

        Dont like the new shape.

    • test drive

      Or wait 5 years to buy this one and pick up an absolute bargain.

  • http://Porsche MB

    These German D’s are the shizzle, pity more people dont get the diesel thing over here….drove a new 520D the other week was the best 5 in the line up IMO

    • WJS

      Agree diesels are shizzlehouse. The gurus tell me well that I am need to drive “modern” diesels, have done so, have the same opinion as before,noisy, dirty and don’t want one. Others have an opinion and so do I. Mine is the only one that counts when push comes to shove.

      • Jimmy

        What modern diesels have you driven? I’ve driven the current model BMW 320d and X5 30d and they are just sublime! I’ve also driven the current 335i and as good as that was, I actually enjoyed the power delivery from the oilers even more. There’s just so much torque on tap.

        • WJS

          This year C Class.Passat CC.3 series BMW. Mondeo all sound like trucks.Don’t care about torque, more interested in protecting my hearing.Sublime to you maybe, slime to me.

    • Tom Atkinson

       u talk poo , about shizzle

  • NotTheStig

    Be more than a few months until the new Coupe is out. The new 3 Sedan will arrive in 2012 but it will likely be 18 months+ before the 2 door shows up here.

  • ozman

    Nice as usual, but who can afford 94k for a smallish car and worse yet, lose about 50k in depreciation over 5 yrs?

    • MattP

      Most cars depreciate 50% in less than 5 years so your figures, if accurate, are not bad. Residual values in the 3 series coupes tends to be very good as there is a lot of demand in the second hand market.

      The real question is, can you buy a $94K vehicle that would depreciate less? I don’t think so.

      Nice review Alborz, I was looking forward to it after seeing your LinkedIn comment yesterday.

    • Anoble14bmw

      over 5 years try 3

  • FrugalOne

    If you can spend $94k you can spend $115

    Just buy a Porsche Boxster and be done with it

    • Jacob

      That’s like saying “Australian housing is the most overpriced in the world, so Aussies should be willing to pay rip-off retail prices at Harvey Norman too”!

    • Edn

      I case you need 4 seats and a boot, you better off with the Bimmer.

  • TonyB

    Better still is the X3 30d. More room, a slightly better engine (190 kW/560 nm), much the same fuel economy and performance, gives some but not much away in handling, better ride – and its considerably cheaper.

    • test drive

      Not much? An almost 2 tonne SUV vs a finely tuned sedan?
      Why do people insist in comparing SUVs to sedans?

    • WJS

      X3 30d…..ha ha ha what a joke…ugly noisy and totally undesirable’

  • Matty B

    Quick correction, those wheels are 19″, M Sport package gives you 18″s but you can option 19″. They’re definately 19″ on that car.

    And why they wouldn’t option the satin shadowline is beyond me, the chrome looks hideous on the baclk m sport.

    • http://www.caradvice.com.au/ Alborz Fallah

      You’re right. Thanks, corrected.

  • Steve

    I’d take the sedan then would be the perfect car, for me anyhow.

  • JooberFPVGT

    Id rather get a second hand m3 for performance in mind. with 100k to spend on a car and thinking diesel money savings ud be a rich penny pincher

  • nickdl

    Awesome car all round. I’d love to have an E92 3 Series at some stage. IMO it’s one of the best looking BMW’s at the moment. However the 19″ alloys look too big for the car. When I saw the first photo I thought some bogan might have debadged a 320i and thrown some bigger mags on it. The wheels don’t really echo the subtlety of the rest of the car.

  • http://www.antalex.pl Tylna belka

    Really nice article. BMW always make nice cars, but i feel like this car is for some gangsters or politicians (because characters are the same ;)

  • dan

    need a update of interior setting… look dated!

    • PB

      Dan, I would have to agree, I can’t quite say what it is but the interior does look ‘old’. Having said that, very nice car though! Excellent engineering.

  • Ann Knowles

    I’d sooner buy a Jaguar XF 2.2D :-)

    • Peter

      Or pay a few grand more (than the 330) and get the 3 litre twin turbo Jag. Interior is much nicer, 5 seats, and the shape is prettier but it’s a bigger car.

  • Bangel

    THE A5 looks pretty good but this is the best looking coupe out there , magic economy the huge highway grunt .

    • WJS

      Sorry to learn you are visually impaired.

  • F1MotoGP

    Excellent car. 180kW and 520Nm from 1750 rpm very easy to drive. Good acceleration 6.1 to 100 and fuel economy 8 in the city!!

  • dude of cars

    Looks dated! Yawn-fest 2011.

BMW 3 Series Specs

20d : 2.0L DIESEL TURBO F/INJ - 6 SP AUTOMATIC STEPTRONIC - 2D COUPE
Car Details
Make
BMW
Model
3
Variant
20d
Series
E92 MY11
Year
2011
Body Type
2D COUPE
Seats
4
Engine Specifications
Engine Type
DIESEL TURBO F/INJ
Engine Size
2.0L
Cylinders
DIESEL TURBO 4
Max. Torque
380Nm @  1900rpm
Max. Power
135kW @  4000rpm
Pwr:Wgt Ratio
94.4W/kg
Bore & Stroke
84x90mm
Compression Ratio
17
Valve Gear
DUAL OVERHEAD CAM
Drivetrain Specifications
Transmission
6 SP AUTOMATIC STEPTRONIC
Drive Type
REAR WHEEL DRIVE
Final Drive Ratio
3.73
Fuel Specifications
Fuel Type
DIESEL
Fuel Tank Capacity
63
Fuel Consumption (Combined)
5.3L / 100km
Weight & Measurement
Kerb Weight
1430
Gross Vehicle Weight
Not Provided
Height
1395mm
Length
4612mm
Width
1782mm
Ground Clearance
107mm
Towing Capacity
Brake:1600  Unbrake:745
Steering & Suspension
Steering Type
RACK & PINION - POWER ASSISTED
Turning Circle
11
Front Rim Size
8x17
Rear Rim Size
8x17
Front Tyres
225/45 R17
Rear Tyres
225/45 R17
Wheel Base
2760
Front Track
1500
Rear Track
1513
Front Brakes
DISC - VENTILATED
Rear Brakes
DISC - VENTILATED
Standard Features
Comfort
Automatic Air Con / Climate Control, Power front seats
Control & Handling
17 Inch Alloy Wheels, Electronic Brake Force Distribution
Driver
Cruise Control, Leather Steering Wheel, Multi Function Steering Wheel, Parking Distance Control, Power Steering
Entertainment
Radio CD with 6 Speakers
Exterior
Fog Lights - Front, Power Mirrors
Interior
Leather Upholstery, Power Windows
Safety
Dual Airbag Package, Anti-lock Braking, Head Airbags, Seatbelts - Pre-tensioners Front Seats
Security
Central Locking Remote Control, Engine Immobiliser
Optional Features
Comfort
Heated Front Seats, Power front seats with memory, Power Sunroof
Control & Handling
18 Inch Alloy Wheels
Driver
Satellite Navigation
Entertainment
CD with 6 CD Stacker
Exterior
Metallic Paint, M Sport Package II
Security
Alarm System/Remote Anti Theft
Other
Service Interval
12 months /  25,000 kms
Warranty
36 months /  999,000 kms
VIN Plate Location
8-M-7
Country of Origin
GERMANY