It had the sports body kit, large wheels and was finished in Messing Metallic, which in normal people’s language is a bronze-like hue that alternates between different shades of bronze depending on how the light hits it. When my friend’s dad pulled away, we realised that it was the 330i. It made a glorious sound.
A South African icon
fast forward to 2018 and the 330i badge is back. I was handed the keys to this updated volume seller from BMW. There is no denying the fact that the 3-series is the sedan of choice for many a South African, not only because it was produced locally for many years, but also because it delivered on that iconic BMW performance, handling and quality.
With a new 3-series around the corner though, BMW has applied a number of changes to the current seven-year-old F30 to keep it fresh. These include new halo-like daytime running LEDs, revised taillights and slightly tweaked rear fascia.
The model I drove came fitted with the Sport Line pack, but unlike the M Sport though, don’t expect aggressive bumpers and large wheels. Instead, the car gets gloss black detailing on the outside, gloss black mirrors and in the case of the tester, BMW Individual alloy wheels. Overall, the car looks good with subtle hints to set it apart from the rest.
Not much has changed inside in terms of the overall design, which has been a slight criticism for many regarding the current three. I, however, find the interior to be quite fine. The car featured the brand’s updated iDrive infotainment system with touchscreen functionality, a new USB port above the cupholders, a wireless smartphone charger and a second USB in the centre armrest.
One of the things that I really loved though was the digital instrument cluster which changes graphics depending on the drive mode that you are in. These modes can be changed between Eco Pro, Comfort, Sport and Sport+. Each mode adjusts the car’s engine, gearbox and steering to best suit the requirements.
On the topic of performance, the latest 330i betrays its badge in that it comes powered by a 2.0-litre turbocharged engine instead of a 3.0-litre straight-six. The blower does provide added punch and helps the engine to produce 185kW/350Nm. It is connected to a smooth shifting eight-speed Steptronic gearbox that effortlessly goes about its business as the 0-100km/h sprint is taken care of in 5.8 seconds.
The 330i, and in fact the 3-series in general, remains a top achiever. It is a quality product that delivers a sporty drive when the mood strike, but for the most part, it remains composed, comfortable and stylish with ample space for passengers and luggage. What can you expect to pay for the 330i Sport Line Steptronic? Well, it’s yours from R680 026.