For info on the COVID-19 pandemic say "Hi" on Whatsapp 0600 123 456 or visit

Carshop First Drive: New BMW 3 Series - Time For The Sublime

  Calvin Fisher


 14 Mar, 2019

Calvin Fisher was recently given keys to a pair of new BMWs and let loose on his favourite Cape roads. Driving pleasure ensues.

“The key to the ‘320D’ is important. I should drive this model. This is the one that makes sense. Most people will buy that one, and it is the one I can recommend responsibly.”

These are all the things I thought of before instead snatching up the key marked ‘330i’. Now, they're both turbocharged 2.0-litre engines, one a diesel burner and the other a petrol incinerator. And they'll both cost you the same - R649,000 in standard trim.

But it was Friday and I wanted to go fast. So my decision was purely academic – 190kW and 400Nm for a 01-00kph in 5.8 seconds in the 330i, or 140kW and 400Nm good for 6.8 seconds in the 320D. Petrol power it is then.

But does the bite match the new bark?

This new BMW 3 Series, codenamed the G20 then, I first saw it and climbed into its leathery womb last year at the Paris Motor Show and it was good. Now, on these sunny (and then rainy, as it does in the Cape) winding beach roads, it was about to grow alive in my hands.

But first – those looks, it is undeniably a 3 Series especially when viewed from the front where the kidney grille, taut metal ‘skin’ stretched over a muscular bonnet and around bulging arches and airdams. The flank too enjoys the usual array of pressed creases whereas the rear clusters are where the contention has sparked. Similarities between it and Lexus and Audi products have been mentioned and whether or not you agree, my personal take on it is – who cares?

I mean really, there are only so many ways to design a rear lamp cluster – and since all manufacturers are on the same style trajectory into the future, especially in a sporty saloon where horizontal lines are key in exuding dynamics and wieldliness. Does it look resolved? Yes. Consolidated? Absolutely. Do I like it? Very much.

German restyling has mostly meant constant if glacial evolution versus the revolution you’ll find in the Far East and West and that’s certainly worked well for the Porsche 911 and VW Golf. So styling is on point – sharp, substantial and with M Sport Line, design queues such as twin pipes and more, a clue as to the performance underneath.

This way sir…

Hop aboard and the changes are even more substantial, a clean and highly intelligent cabin filled to the brim with technology, connectivity and integration. I glance over the controls and find the ones that activate the fieriest of Sport settings, because I came here to drive a quick BMW.

With the 330i at its most athletic, I engage Drive and proceed to send the full complement of its mildly controversial (I’ll get to this in a minute) turbo’d 2.0 litre engine’s power and torque to the rear wheels and proceed to carve up the coastal roads along our route.

So, mildly controversial only because BMW part-built its reputation on the success of its inline 6-cylinder 3-litre engine – clearly it is good enough for the new Toyota Supra, and so enjoys placement in all the most blistering of BMWs. The 330i badge for a long time was synonymous with that traditional engine configuration but has now been allied to the kind of 4 potter you’d associate with a hot hatchback. But this is no hatch. This is a bona fide ‘quick Bimmer’, if somewhat understated.

The drive was compelling, the conditions challenging thanks to the presence of rain, but the 330i didn’t miss a beat with its flavourful helm, flat suspension and eager-revving mill. Sure, there’s plenty of room left above it for the inevitable M340i and M3, but for sheer driving pleasure, look no further than our test car.

BMW 330i Spec:

Engine 2.0l turbocharged, petrol, inline 4-cyl
Power 190kW
Torque 400Nm
Transmission8-speed automatic
Driven Wheels Rear
0-100kph 5.8 seconds
Top Speed 250kph
Average Fuel Consumption 6.4l/100km
CO2 Emissions147g/km

New BMW 3 Series Pricing:

Standard R649,000.00
Sport LineR672,600.00
M SportR697,400.00
Sport Line Launch EditionR664,000.00
M Sport Launch Edition
Standard R649,000.00
Sport Line
M Sport
Sport Line Launch EditionR664,000.00
M Sport Launch Edition

 You Might Also Be Interested In

5 Feb, 2020
Poor Sales in January Point to Declining Market in 2020
The National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of SA (Naamsa) repeated its well-worn mantra on Monday 3 February, saying the market continued its decline in January 2020.
30 Nov, 2019
Things That Go Bump in The Night
Calvin Fisher was invited to witness the Sport of Endurance contested by international racers and on local soil no less.
27 Sep, 2019
BMW X5 Review: M50d – The Biggest Five
The beefiest slice of Bavarian performance is amidst us. Make room.
26 Sep, 2019
G'day M8. BMW M8 That is.
The BMW M8 is finally a thing. And what a mighty fine thing indeed. Let's unpack the sportiest flagship of BMW flagships.
20 Aug, 2019
You Know You’re in South Africa When...
Calvin puts together his list of 15 somewhat iconic South African cars.
1 Aug, 2019
Thursday News Roundup 2019 #31 - Your News Wrap Up For The Week
We've trawled the internet for the latest motoring news so that you don't need to. Enjoy!

Find the keys to your dream
BMW 3 Series

2017 318i Auto (F30)

R 349,900

2016 320i M Sport Auto (F30)

R 319,900

2018 320i Auto (F30)

R 399,900

2016 330D M Sport Auto (F30)

R 369,900

2018 320i Auto (F30)

R 399,900

2018 320i Auto (F30)

R 399,900

All content © 2020