2019 BMW 330i xDrive - The Ultimate Interior Machine
The BMW 3 Series is an iconic premium performance sedan that defined its segment better than any other vehicle. However, times are changing and the “Ultimate Driving Machine” tagline is starting to come into question now that the Tesla Model 3 has moved this car’s cheese.
We recently had the pleasure of testing the new 2019 BMW 330ixDrive and loved the car. With an as-tested price including destination of $58,200 and an engine with almost identical specs to the Honda accord 2.0T costing $25K less, it’s fair to ask why a buyer would opt for this BMW over other choices.
There are many reasons, all of then hard to defend unless you are a shopper in the premium segment. The 330i is a fantastic daily driver, is fun to drive in all real-world situations, and it still has that special something that keeps BMW at the forefront of the premium/performance marketplace. However, as good as the car drove, it was the interior that we found to be its best attribute. And it is also perhaps its biggest (only?) advantage over the Model 3 that now dominates this segment in terms of sales.
BMW 330i xDrive - Seats
Upon entry, the first thing one notices is the seat quality and comfort. The leather is of the highest quality and the seats are even great to look at. The power adjustment in our tester included the ability to put the seat on the floor and angle up the seat cushion in the front. A small thing, but in a sporty car that is our preferred position. The lumbar is also adjustable to location, not just in or out. One thing we really love is a thigh extension and BMW’s manual pull-forward thigh adjustment is fantastic. The seats were heated, but not cooled. At this price point, we expect both.
BMW 330i xDrive - Infotainment
Next, one is impressed by the BMW infotainment package. Having owned a 2014 BMW (X3), we expected to have to employ the rotary interface knob (mouse) to operate the menus. Nope. BMW allows you to also use the screen as a touch-interface, and it seems to work even when moving. Nice. Your passenger can now operate it while you drive. The mouse still has a few functions that it does best, like zooming the Nav screen, but for the most part, we ignored it for a week and did just fine.
BMW 330i xDrive - Controls
We have come to love the BMW gestures. One can adjust the audio volume or channels with hand movements in front of the screen. It may sound hokey, but give it a try and we suspect you will love it. The screen tutors you on the inputs as you do them in other ways. Very cool.
BMW 330i xDrive - HUD
The head-up display is also among the best we have ever tested. You can select the information you wish to see displayed, So, if you are a purist and want to see only the tach and speed info, you can. Or, you can also see nav info. And even a listing of Sirius XM stations and what is playing on each. The info display is huge. Or it is tiny, or gone altogether - your choice. We found the adaptive cruise control and driver aid info displayed to be very helpful.
BMW 330i xDrive - Steering Wheel
The steering wheel controls are also perfect. Almost all of the routine inputs and adjustments one makes can be done without moving one’s hands from the “9 and 3” position. Similarly, we quickly learned to adjust the HVAC without looking and by using just tactile inputs. It was chilly when we tested the 330i and keeping our hands on the heated leather steering wheel was preferred.
BMW 330i xDrive - Audio
The cabin’s quality is great for the price point and the Harman Kardon audio was very good. And it had multiple surround sound settings which we enjoyed adjusting based on the type of music were were in the mood for. At $58K you should expect excellent audio and the BMW 330i xDrive delivers.
BMW 330i xDrive - Space
Space is also impressive. On paper, the 330i xDrive is a compact car with 94 cubic feet of passenger volume. In practice, we found that our 6-foot frame had ample room in the driver’s space. There was an abundance of extra headroom and nearly a foot of extra legroom. Also, the driver’s right knee is not crowded by the chunky center console. We don’t know how BMW managed to do it, but the car feels roomy and spacious inside, while maintaining a compact exterior shadow. The back seat is more than adequate for the kids and occasional adults you must have to transport (otherwise you’d be in a 4 Series coupe).
In this segment, now defined by the battery-electric Model 3, there is still significant differentiation between the best models offered. In the case of the $58,200 BMW 330i xDrive, it is the interior that sets this sedan apart from the crowd.
In addition to covering green vehicle topics, John Goreham covers safety, technology, and new vehicle news at Torque News. You can follow John on Twitter at @johngoreham.