A limited-edition 3 Series to celebrate a century of BMW, James takes the 2016 BMW 330i 100 Year Edition for a spin.
It doesn’t always need to be a special occasion for a manufacturer to release a special edition car, but in the case of the 2016 BMW 330i 100 Year Edition, it was.
The 100 Year Edition pack was available on both 330i Sport and Luxury line models, as well as the 430i Gran Coupe Sport and Luxury, but only on cars built during July and August 2016.
This makes our car, a Luxury Line 330i sedan, one of just 260 made. Special indeed!
Uniqueness comes at a cost though, with the 100 Year edition attracting a $6000 premium over a standard 330i, at $75,855 before options and on-road costs. It is all relative however, as the extra goodies account for about $13,000 worth of value added to the executive sedan.
Whether this will hold the 100 Year car in a higher resale bracket remains to be seen, but the package is good value in isolation.
To help you stand out from the crowd, the 100 Year 330i features a range of options from the BMW Individual catalogue.
Wheels are a specific 19-inch design (style 626) and feature 10, twin spokes with a machined face. There is a subtle BMW Individual engraving on one of them, and they are a particularly nice design.
The paint is Mediterranean Blue, and without too much exaggeration, is just lovely. The colour sparkles in the sun and really suits the lines of the 3 Series.
I will say too, that I would normally tick the M-Sport box without thinking on the 330i, but the Luxury Line car, with its chrome window surrounds and more subtle body styling, especially in this specification, does look great. It makes the 3 Series seem much more up market than they tend to with the dark trim surrounds and flat paint choices.
Inside, the 100 Year Edition has been treated to the Individual extended ‘Merino’ leather package in Cashmere Beige. The quilted door trims give a very real sense of luxury and, as I have noted on a number of reviews, the combination of light trim and a dark headliner (also part of the 100 Year pack) feels measurably more upmarket than dark trim with a lighter roof.
It’s like the leather dash, a small detail in isolation, but a significant part of a much more holistic luxury experience, that in the case of the 3 Series, improves the interior no end. It still feels a bit dated, but with the premium trimmings, you don’t notice so much.
Back seat room isn't too bad when running two-up, and there are air vents, map and door pockets and a centre armrest built into the 40:20:40 split seat.
This too gives the sedan some extra flexibility beyond the 480-litre boot, especially if you are carrying longer items.
Ergonomics and infotainment are all, typical, BMW quality, plus the 100 Year Edition includes the 16-speaker Harman/Kardon sound system, which is a big improvement over the standard six-speaker job.
There are still a few frustrations, like the lack of a sync-setting on the dual-zone climate control, and that this car still has the ‘old’ iDrive version. The newer iDrive 5 with Apple CarPlay support is fitted to vehicles built from September 2016 onward, so if you read this and think, whacko, I’m ordering a 3er… you’ll get it.
A final flourish to the interior are the BMW Individual kick plates on the doors, a nice conversation starter for your and your ride along guests.
Under the skin though, the 100 Year 330i is unchanged from the regular car, but this isn’t a bad thing at all, as the 330i continues to be our pick of the 3 Series range.
Powered by a 185kW/350Nm 2-litre turbocharged petrol engine, the 330i offers a great balance of performance and economy.
This is the B48 motor, which is fitted with a single, twin-scroll turbocharger, which provides more efficient operation from the pulsed exhaust gasses from each cylinder, timed to ensure a faster spool response.
The B48 in the 330i gives 5kW over the previous mid-range F30 3 Series, the 328i (180kW), and the 350Nm peak torque band starts a smidge higher in the rev range (1450rpm against 1250rpm), but economy improves considerably, at just 5.8/100km claim for a combined cycle against 6.4L/100km in the older car.
It’s a fantastic engine, and when combined with the eight-speed ZF automatic transmission and standard adaptive suspension package, returns an entertaining and communicative drive in any of the car’s four drive modes.
Power peaks high in the rev range at 6500rpm, but the 330i is nicely responsive down low, with the 350Nm torque band from 1450-4800rpm.
Yes, the sound that is pumped into the cabin in the Sport drive mode is artificial, but it isn’t bad, and given the punchiness of the turbo-four, actually works quite well.
Steering is direct and the ride, which as noted is supported by adaptive dampers, is firm and direct without being too crashy. This gives the 330i a crossover capability of being a quiet, comfortable, executive saloon around town, and a sporty, engaging sports sedan out on the open road.
The car is willing and enjoyable when driven with 100 years of BMW enthusiasm, showing the F30 platform can still hold its own in the dynamic ability stakes.
The six-cylinder 340i does offer considerably higher output, 240kW and 450Nm, but it carries an extra $20,000 price tag, making the 330i still the best bang-for-your-buck equation in the range.
Like all limited and special editions, the 2016 BMW 330i 100 Year Edition will help you stand out from the crowd. And unlike many ‘sticker pack’ specials we have seen over the years, this one is legitimately a bit special.
Even if you have missed out on this particular car, optioning a 2017 330i with individual interior, wheels and paint isn’t as expensive as you would expect. List price would be less than $3000 to add the wheels, paint, interior and the dark headliner to a $69,900 standard-built 330i. That's just four per cent extra.
Sure, the F30 3 Series is dating a bit, with a whole new car at least two-years away, but with the right options and trim, you can extend the life of the 3er to still provide something that will stand out from the crowd .
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