The BMW 330i M Sport reviewed here in April had a punishing ride, best suited for those with strong backs and well-padded posteriors.
If not, the BMW 330i Luxury variant is a far better option.
The BMW 330i Luxury is also $17,000 less expensive than the M Sport, on account of it having fewer features and slightly smaller wheels (18-inch versus the M’s 19-inch).
Most of the missing features are not really significant, but the more crucial ones include variable sport steering, head-up display, LED fog lights and a Harman Kardon sound system.
The one feature which you will definitely not miss is the jolting sport suspension.
BMW says future cars with this suspension will come with adjustable dampers, which should help soften the progress for non-track days.
Undoubtedly, that would incur more cost. The BMW 330i Luxury, on the other hand, is a good, ready compromise.
It may be a tad less dynamic in appearance because it does not have some of the aesthetics of the M Sport (such as the aerodynamics package) but, at the wheel, it feels no less capable.
At least, on public roads.
The BMW 33oi Luxury’s ride is still obviously firm, with the car sometimes skipping over tarmac protrusions round a fast bend.
Yet, fast is the best way to drive the BMW 330i Luxury, as the frequency of its suspension seems to be tuned for a brisk pace. Driven leisurely, the ride still has a stony edge to it.
The same goes for the brakes. They are so grippy that it requires some effort to bring the car to a stop without making your passengers nod involuntarily.
At higher speeds, the BMW 330i Luxury’s anchors are as competent as the M Sport’s blue callipered brakes.
Both cars share the same drivetrain, with a turbocharged 2-litre squeezing out 258hp and 400Nm from 1550rpm.
Paired with an 8-speed automatic transmission with paddle shift, it sends the BMW 330i to 100km/h in 5.8 seconds and onto a peak velocity of 250km/h.
Again, this pairing works best when pushed. Keep the tacho above 3000rpm and you will be rewarded with a keen throttle and the loveliest song from a four-cylinder.
The trouble is that there are not many opportunities here to drive the 3 Series with vigour. And even when they do arise, the car, having grown considerably, is not like its more compact predecessors.
It excels on straights and wide sweeping bends, but it becomes a bit of a handful if you try to tuck it into tighter corners.
That said, the car is still among the best-handling semi-compact sedans in town.
Like the M Sport, the BMW 330i Luxury has the brand’s suite of driver assistance, including semi-automatic parking, reversing assist – which retraces the last 50m of travel.
There’s also BMW Connected (which offers concierge service, real-time traffic info and automatic emergency call function).
The test-car has a door locking tab which works well only if the key is really close to it.
Nonetheless, the BMW 330i Luxury is clearly a more liveable car than the 330i M Sport.
BMW 330i Luxury 2.0 (A)
ENGINE 1998cc, 16-valves, inline-4, turbocharged
MAX POWER 258hp at 5000rpm
MAX TORQUE 400Nm at 1550-4400rpm
GEARBOX 8-speed automatic with manual select
0-100KM/H 5.8 seconds
TOP SPEED 250km/h
PRICE INCL. COE $208,888
AGENT Performance Motors