BMW 330i Touring M Sport Review: Hands-on
The BMW 330i Touring raises the question: Do you need an SUV?
SUVs are among the leaders in the sales charts in Australia. The Mazda CX-5 is a popular choice and the all-new RAV4 went gangbusters upon arrival, but the BMW 330i Touring puts forward an interesting question. Do you really need one?
Sure, SUVs, for the most part, are spacious and practical – but so is the 330i Touring! The main difference is that the BMW is much more fun to drive!
The BMW 330i Touring has a starting price of $75,990 before on-road costs, and if you want it kitted out like the one you see here, you are looking at $84,939.
What's it like inside?
The German brand knows how to craft a nice interior. You get leather appointments throughout, comfortable electronically adjustable seats and a nice chunky steering wheel to grab hold of.
Looking behind the wheel, there's a 12.3-inch digital display that can be configured to your liking, with maps, media, trip information and more.
To the left is BMW's trusty iDrive infotainment system, which comes with both a rotary control as well as a 12-inch display touchscreen.
Underneath that is the dual-zone climate control system, with a third zone in the back so the passengers can set their own temperatures.
A wireless phone charger is also fitted should you forget your USB cord like I always do.
The BMW 330i Touring feels every bit as spacious inside as you would imagine. Shoulder and headroom are good, and if you are of the taller ilk, seats have extenders on the base should you need it to go that bit further.
Sitting inside the cockpit of the 330i, you are reminded about the quality differences between BMW and other manufacturers. The passenger compartment is very clean and well thought out to make it feel like there are acres of space inside. Comparing this to a Toyota RAV4 or a Ford Endura, you do pay a premium, but to be fair, they are worlds apart when it comes to interior styling and finish.
Boot space is rated at 500 litres, which is about on par with many SUVs on the market today.
Throughout the cabin, there is plenty of storage too, with cup holders and the door bins in the back capable of holding big drink bottles among other things.
What's it like to drive?
It's fantastic in comparison to an SUV. By opting for the 330i Touring, you lose the bulk and dullness that often accompanies SUVs.
The vehicle feels far more planted than its higher counterparts and that makes it much more enjoyable to drive.
It is powered by a four-cylinder turbo petrol engine that pumps out 190kW and 400Nm to the rear wheels. With the foot down, it will whip you to 100 km/h in 5.9 seconds. With eight gears at its disposal, the 330i's transmission can cater for any type of driving, shifting smoothly whatever you're doing.
It has a nice exhaust burble in idle too as a result of the "M" badging our model wears.
You also get a head-up display and three driving modes: Comfort, Eco Pro and Sports. Comfort and Eco Pro basically set the car up as described by their names, with Sport throwing the car back a gear and making sure everything is a bit more responsive and visceral.
You can customise settings too, so you can get the vehicle set up to your (and your families?) liking.
Speed sign recognition, autonomous cruise control and lane-keep assist make it incredibly easy to stay in the flow of traffic with sensors constantly reading the conditions and roads around you. If the speed limit changes, you simply hit "OK" on the steering wheel controls and the BMW system will automatically adjust the set cruise speed. It is an intuitive feature that was appreciated on longer drives.
BMW's official figures for the 330i are 7.0 litres per 100km of driving on a combined cycle. We didn't see that though, with the final number for our time with the car averaging out to 9.2 litres per 100kms. I will concede though, that we did make sure we gave the performance of this family wagon a thorough test – if you catch my drift.
How safe is the BMW 330i Touring?
When tested in 2019, the 3 Series Touring was awarded top marks with a 5-star ANCAP safety rating.
Included on the vehicle is a comprehensive suite of safety features and technology as well as some pretty interesting new features.
Safety assists include the following:
- Autonomous emergency braking
- Lane-keep assist with departure warning
- Front and rear cross-traffic alert
- Adaptive cruise control
- Rear collision prevention
- Automatic parking
- Evasion aid
- Crossroads warning with braking
- Speed sign recognition
This works in unison with the driver to successfully avoid a collision. The technology itself uses the radar system to mobilise the brakes for a quick response and supports the steering input to avoid the collision itself – all while optimising vehicle stability to make sure that you don't end up with a tank slapper or worse.
Crossroads warning with braking
This safety feature works with the speed sign recognition system to detect traffic lights, traffic signs and other vehicles, and if the system feels it is necessary, it will kick in to avoid a collision.
Is it practical?
Apart from the vehicle height, it is almost every bit as practical as an SUV.
Inside, there is plenty of space with a decent amount of legroom in the back. With the driver's seat in my driving position at a smidge over 6-foot, I had enough room in the back. There is also a good amount of space in the door bins for rear passengers, two cup holders and two USB charging points to keep the kids out of your hair.
There is a third zone of air conditioning in the back for that matter too, meaning anyone in the back really has no reason to complain!
As mentioned earlier, boot space is rated at 500 litres, which is competitive with vehicles in the SUV segment.
Now this is going to be very subjective but, in my opinion, it looks better and drives better than an SUV and after having driven the 330i Touring, I am not sure I would buy an SUV. Back in the day, everyone drove sedans and wagons as family cars.
If you have a growing family and the Beemer is in your price range, I would recommend booking a test drive online and heading down to your local dealership. If you have already been test driving SUVs in your search for a car, you'll notice the difference.