It’s a big compliment that the 3 Series now looks and feels like such a ‘proper’, fully fledged BMW from within. In previous decades, you had to go all the way up to a 5 Series to get that impression. Now, however, the 3 Series looks and feels like a really solidly built, classily appointed and technologically replete car.
Sitting low and with legs and arms outstretched remains a key 3 Series selling point. You feel thoroughly well rooted in the car and space for your arms and legs is generous. You sit behind digital dials that remain slightly over-stylised for our liking and could be easier to read; but you’ll never be less than fully informed about road and engine speed, with several auxiliary digital speedos in the binnacle itself and a second graphical rev counter if you want it.
It certainly takes experimentation to configure the central infotainment screen, instrument screen and head-up display to show you just the information you want, just where you want it – and the process could be easier. But you can get there without too much trouble, and once you have, the modularity of the layout of the ‘home’ infotainment menu in particular saves a lot of finger prodding.
Second-row passenger space is pretty generous. All but the very tallest adults will find room to be comfortable over fairly long distances. However, boot space does take a slight hit, with the 330e’s fuel tank accounting for about four inches of what would otherwise have been available loading space across the rear axle. Seat folding and through loading remain possible, though, and a folding boot floor lets you make intelligent use of the 375 litres of space that exists.
BMW 3 Series 330e infotainment and sat-nav
The 330e has a more generous infotainment offer than the 330i or 330d. Whereas lower-level trims in those two derivatives get lesser systems, even the 330e SE Pro comes with BMW’s full-fat Live Cockpit Professional infotainment system, with its 10.3in central touchscreen and fully digital instruments. You get connected navigation services as well, and a year’s online music streaming subscription for no extra cost. All 3 Series are now available with Apple CarPlay smartphone mirroring, but not mirroring for other phones.
BMW’s system is, without doubt, one of the best around. A rotary controller lets you input characters the old-fashioned way, if you don’t like touchscreen interfaces, and voice control usually works at the first time of asking. The nav’s routes are plotted quickly and mapping is displayed clearly and easy to follow. Audio quality on the optional Harman Kardon stereo is impressive, too.