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2020 BMW 3-Series Performance Review


Performance: 8.7

The 2020 BMW 3 Series is one of the sportier entries in our luxury small car rankings. Its base four-cylinder engine is both lively and fuel-efficient, and a potent six-cylinder power plant joins the lineup for 2020. This fun-to-drive sports sedan has nimble handling and a comfortable ride.

  • Its 255-horsepower turbocharged 4-cylinder engine allows it to do the benchmark 0-60 mph in as little as 5.3 seconds. That is fast, and its taut yet supple ride and handling will suit most buyers. For occasions when you want to extract the sportiest feel, there are adjustable settings to change the car's characteristics. Yet the 330i lacks a certain edge compared to rivals like the Alfa Romeo Giulia and Genesis G70, which offer manual transmissions for those seeking the most engagement. If you simply want a quick, relatively nimble and posh compact-luxury sedan that speaks to your rising status, the new BMW 330i fits the bill." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "Earlier this year, BMW engineers told me their goal was to create 'the best sport sedan in the world' -- or, more realistically anyway, the best-driving car in its class. In that regard, mission accomplished. The new 3 Series is a proper return to form." -- CNET (2019)
  • The new engine is smoothly energetic, the transmission acts quickly yet almost imperceptibly, the brakes are confidence-inspiring and the steering has a pleasant weight and feel (especially in our preferred driving mode of Sport)" -- Autotrader (2019)

Acceleration and Power

The 3 Series comes in two different trims, 330i and M340i, each of which features a different turbocharged engine. The base 330i is energetic and quick to respond, and it's a superb choice for shoppers in search of an entry-level luxury sports sedan. The M340i ramps up performance, and between its potent engine and upgraded handling components, this sport-tuned edition is the ideal choice for driving enthusiasts who can afford it.

Although a manual transmission is not available in the 3 Series at the time of writing, the eight-speed automatic transmission it comes with is an excellent gearbox. It shifts quickly and accurately, with paddle shifters and a manual shift mode for those who prefer to exert some control over gear choice.

The 330i has a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine with a 255-horsepower rating. This model can dash from zero to 60 mph in 5.6 seconds. In addition to its lively performance, this engine is also very fuel-efficient. Its gas mileage ratings of 26 mpg in the city and 36 mpg on the highway are among the best in the segment.

With its 382 horsepower 3.0-liter six-cylinder, the M340i launches from zero to 60 in as little as 4.1 seconds.

  • "If you're a fan of past 3 Series with BMW's inline 6-cylinder engine and its effortless, balanced performance, [the M340i] is the model to get." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "The revised turbo four never feels overly wound even when flogging it in low gears, and there's little of the previous engine's harsh vibrations. Torque is modest, but it's a happy four-banger; even the sound from inside the cockpit is punchy, settling into a mid-range bass in Sport Plus mode." -- Automobile Magazine (2019)
  • "The 330i has ample power and gobs of torque for good flexibility for merging and passing, really under all driving situations. There simply aren't any flat spots or holes in the 330i's power curve. BMW claims zero-to-60 mph acceleration in the sub-6 second range … and there's no reason to doubt it." -- New York Daily News (2019)

Handling and Braking

The 3 Series comes standard with rear-wheel drive. You can add xDrive (BMW's name for all-wheel drive) to either edition. High-performance M Sport steering, braking, and suspension systems are also available.

The 3 Series suits a variety of driving preferences because it blends sporty handling with a comfortable ride. The steering and brakes are responsive, adding to the vehicle's dynamic performance.

  • "Goodness is baked right into this new 3 Series' chassis. The car's weight is distributed equally front and rear, … and indeed, the 2019 330i feels more fun from behind the wheel -- it's perfectly balanced on the road, turn in is tight and quick, and undulating roadways are conquered without drama." -- Autoblog (2019)
  • "The suspension, which includes hydraulic dampers on base models and stiffer bushings, results in greater fluidity but less of the bounce, chop, and harshness found with some of the outgoing 3 Series's setups. Negotiating a roundabout is a telling exercise. In cases where you're exiting straight across the other side, you can enter quickly, throw the car right to cut the half circle, and then flick the wheel sharply to the left to send it straight again. The BMW deftly handles these swift directional changes with no slough or front-end push." -- Automobile Magazine (2019)
  • "The fun factor is high, but not at the expense of comfort. Nor does the larger body have an adverse effect on agility." -- Autotrader (2019)
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2020 BMW 3-Series

MSRP: $40,750 - $56,000

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