First drive: BMW 3 Series 2019 review

Moving Well | Greg Hill | Posted on 20 March 2019

Greg Hill drives the 2019 BMW 3 Series.

First impressions:

The all-new BMW 3 Series sedan is an involving driver’s car that delivers plenty in terms of style and ability.


BMW’s 3 Series sedan steps boldly into its seventh generation with the all-new 320d and 330i, which we put through their paces on a launch drive around the picturesque Bright area.

They will be joined later in the year by an entry-level 320i, the sportier xDrive M340i M Performance model (BMW Australia’s first all-wheel-drive 3 Series) and a 330E plug-in hybrid. Wagon versions traditionally follow six to 12 months after the sedan release.

Slideshow images: The BMW 330i, upgraded tech in the 330i, rear of BMW 320d.

Since the first generation was released back in 1975, the 3 Series has been an icon of the BMW line-up, boasting worldwide sales of more than 15.5 million. It’s a well-proven formula that combines luxury style and sporting appeal in a practical medium-size sedan. The new model has an unmistakable 3 Series look and feel, while the slightly bigger body’s sharper lines clearly distinguish it from its predecessor.   

The plush interior’s high-quality materials, redesigned controls and upgraded technology with large instrument cluster and touchscreen, supported by an excellent head-up display, create a driver-friendly environment and a premium ambience.  

The M Sport package is the standard equipment grade, while a softer-styled Luxury Line is available as a no-cost option. Pricing starts at $67,900 plus on-road costs for the diesel-powered 320d. Although it’s reasonably well equipped, it is disappointing to find that some features that are standard on cheaper mainstream cars are extra-cost options on the 3 Series. BMW offers a long list of options and packages to personalise your chariot, but adding them sees the price climb rapidly. 

At $70,990 plus on-road costs (the same price as the previous 330i), the petrol-engine 330i M Sport is only $3000 more than the 320d but gains substantially more kit. Additional features include adaptive suspension, better brakes, bigger wheels and a more comprehensive suite of driver-assistance and active safety features.

The winding mountain roads around Bright gave good insight into the improved dynamics and general ability of the new 3 Series.

Engine, transmission and suspension upgrades deliver noticeable improvements to on-road ability and strengthen the 3 Series’ status as one of the best driver’s cars in the class. The rear-wheel-drive configuration and 50/50 front-to-rear weight distribution remain a given, but the option of a manual gearbox is no longer available. Both variants employ a responsive eight-speed sport automatic transmission.

While some manufacturers are stepping away from diesel models, BMW has further refined its 2.0-litre twin-turbocharged four-cylinder diesel engine. Maximum power is a useful 140KW with a strong 400Nm of torque.    

Output of the 330i’s 2.0-litre TwinPower Turbo has been increased to 190kW with torque a similar 400Nm, impressive for a four-cylinder petrol engine. 

close-up of bmw 3 series wheel detail

The BMW 330i has different tyre sizes front and back.

rear view of bmw 3 series driving along a tree-lined road

Rear view of the 330i.

close up of bmw headlight

320d headlight detail.

Official fuel consumption for the 320d is a miserly 4.5L/100km, while surprisingly, given the extra power of the petrol engine, the 330i achieves a pleasing 6.4L/100km.

The winding mountain roads around Bright gave good insight into the improved dynamics and general ability of the new 3 Series. The 320d acquitted itself well, with the low-speed pull of the diesel delivering excellent driveability, however the extra cost of the 330i is easily justified given the petrol engine’s better performance and the surefooted handling of the more sophisticated suspension.

Look for a full RoyalAuto road test a little later in the year.

BMW 320d

BMW 330i


List price: $67,900 plus on-road costs.
Model range: $67,900 to $70,900.     

List price: $70,900 plus on-road costs.

Model range: $67,900 to $70,900.  


2.0-litre, eight-speed auto, rear-wheel drive.

Maximum power: 140kW.

Maximum torque: 400Nm.

Tyres: 225/45 R18.

2.0-litre, eight-speed auto, rear-wheel drive.

Maximum power: 190kW.

Maximum torque: 400Nm.

Tyres: Front: 225/40 R19. Rear: 255/35 R19.   


Type: Diesel.             

Tank capacity: 59 litres. 

Government ADR: 4.5L/100km.

CO2 emissions: 119g/km.

            Type: 98 RON petrol.           

Tank capacity: 59 litres.

Government ADR: 6.4 L/100km.

CO2 emissions: 147g/km.


Eight airbags, lane-departure warning, lane-change warning, front collision warning with brake intervention, rear cross traffic alert.

(Safety features additional to the 320d)

Active cruise control, steering and lane control, lane-keep assist with side collision warning, cross-road warning and evasion aid, cross-traffic warning front and rear.


Head-up display, adaptive LED headlights, three-zone auto air-conditioning, sports front seats, run-flat tyres.

(Standard features additional to the 320d)

Adaptive M suspension, M Sport brakes, premium leather upholstery, park assist plus.


Three years/unlimited-kilometres.

Condition-based servicing with service packages available for purchase.  

Three years/unlimited-kilometres.

Condition-based servicing with service packages available for purchase.