Personal Review: 2016 BMW 330i vs 2016 BMW 320d (F30)
I had a chance to drive both of them (not at the same time, of course). One offers lots of power, and the other offers lots of torque.
The Petrol-powered 330i
The F30 BMW 330i is the fully-equipped 4-cylinder 3-series you can get (in Indonesian market). It has sunroof, Harman Kardon speakers, cool M-Tech body kit, and 18 inch M wheels. Other than that, it's the same 3-series as the other variant--a four-door sedan, front-engined, rear wheel drive (BMW offers AWD as well). I've always liked the look of the sixth generation of 3-series (F30), it may not as iconic as E30 or E46, but surely the F30 is one of the best looking 3-series. Combining that good-looking with M-Tech body kit and 18 inch M wheels, the 330i is the coolest 4-cylinder F30. It comes with lot of standard features as well, such as satnav, air conditioning, run-flat tyres, fog lamps, you named it.
How it Drives
The 330i is equipped with the same 2.0L turbocharged inline-4 engine as the 320i (code: B48B20). But in this car, BMW re-tuned it to produces more power. In fact, it has 248 horsepower and 350Nm of torque. BMW's technology "TwinPower Turbo" (which is NOT twin turbo) eliminates turbo lag, and in result, this car can reached its peak torque at 1,450-4,800 rpm. Honestly, I had so much fun while revving this car on the highway--I can feel the power at any rpms. And if the fun goes out, I just have to shift up, and the fun came back in. It may not the best sounding 4-cylinders, but it's quite nice for a 4-cyls, especially in higher rpm. It is not the car that makes you visit the petrol pump often, since it will reach 10km/L (23.5 mpg) combined .
This car has run-flat tires (RFT) which, for me, quite ruin the ride. The ride of this car is harsh, and sitting in the back would be bad if you have back pain. The car itself is equipped with M Suspensions as standard which is a bit harder than the normal one, and the RFT makes the ride from bad to worse. But you'll be understand all of that uncomfortable ride when you drive it on smooth or curvy roads because this car is stable as hell. When you're tackling corners with high-speed, you'll hardly feel any body rolls--instead you'll only feel the G-force pulling you side-to-side.
What I Think About the 330i
I personally really like the 330i. How it looks, how it drives, how it sounds, I like this car so much. The ride is harsh but I still can tolerate it--as long as I sitting in the front. And since the 330i is fully-equipped, this car is really almost the perfect car for me. But I'm afraid there are a couple of drawbacks: first, if I own this car, I'll replace the RFT with the normal one. I know it's maybe a stupid decision but RFT ruins the ride so much if you're driving it daily. Not just the ride, but the road noise as well--drive it on a concrete freeway (yes, we have those in here) and you won't be able to talk to another person inside your car. Second, the price. The 330i cost around €57,000 in here, and to be honest the 320i has most of the 330i's main feature such as satnav, air conditioning, etc. and it cost around €44,000. If I'm going to drive it in the city, I won't need those 248 horses and 350Nm of torque, also I won't need the sunroof (since I live in a tropical country and I'll close it most of the time), and I'm sure the standard body kit and wheels works as fine as the M-Tech one. In the end, I'll be wasting €13,000 for all of the upsides on the 330i that I won't use.
The Diesel-powered 320d
The diesel-powered 320d is a whole different animal. As soon as you start the engine, you'll hear the classic sound of diesel--which is the same as a lorry's sound, but from a sedan. The BMW 320d is the only diesel variant of the 3-series you can get here in Indonesian market. Well, to be honest BMW only sells 320i, 320d, and 330i for the 3-series in here, so we can say the 320d is the other entry level 3-series alongside 320i--its petrol brother. Even though that 320d is entry level, it has lot of features like I said before. It is equipped with satnav, air conditioning, even the same entertainment system as the 330i. The difference between the 320d and 330i is, of course, the M-Tech thingy. It has standard body kit and 17 inch standard alloy wheels. It doesn't have sunroof as well. Other than that, is quite the same (except for the engine, and of course, this one is black).
How it Drives
The 320d is equipped with 2.0L inline-4 turbodiesel engine producing 192hp and 400Nm of torque, and same 8-speed automatic gearbox as in the 330i. As you can see, while it is down on power compared to 330i, it has 50Nm more torque. What's more, it will reach its peak torque at 1,750-2,500rpm. And when you put lots of torque in a car as small as 3-series, the result is brutal acceleration. Put it on Sport+ mode, turn the traction control off, put the gearbox on manual, and floor it from stand still. You'll know that this thing accelerates way more brutal than the 330i. It also has BMW's TwinPower Turbo technology, so there is no turbo lag whatsoever. But as soon as you reach above 3,000rpm, the torque will be gone--the only downside about the engine. What's special about this engine is not the performance, but the fuel economy. This car will reach 15km/L (35.2 mpg) combined, and it could be better.
The ride in the 320d is way more comfortable, even though it is slightly heavier than the 330i. I feel that especially the front suspensions are softer in the 320d, while I barely notice any differences for the rear suspensions. It also equipped with run flat tires and creates the same problems as in the 330i--it ruins the ride and it is noisy. Cornering with the 320d is noticeably different since it has standard suspensions compared to 330i's M Suspensions. In results, it has a bit more body roll than the 330i--although it is still a fun car to tackle the corners. Also, this car has smaller wheels and thicker tires than the 330i, so that improves the ride quality as well.
What I Think About the 320d
While the 330i is a car that can brings you joy when you're driving it on the freeway, the 320d offers you a bit of that joy in a shorter time. So, it will be more suitable if you're driving it in a city--not to mention that this car is unbelievably economical. What's more, this car is priced at €45,000 which is €12,000 cheaper than the 330i. Even though that the 320d is not as good looking as the 330i, it's still has lot of features that you can found in the 330i. The only thing that bothers me is the 320d haven't got sunroof--I personally like sunroof on a sedan. I don't mind about the diesel sound it makes, since you won't hear it as soon as you close the doors (and the window, of course).
BMW 320d vs BMW 330i
Which One Would I Have?
I'd go with the diesel. It's a hard choice but there are lot of factors that forces me to not driving the 330i in the city I live in. Traffics, road quality, fuel prices, and the biggest problem: my bank account. All of them are the reasons why I'd go with the diesel. The city I live in has really bad traffic, so I won't need lot of power and torque, in fact I will need cars that is not thirsty. The 320d also have higher ground clearance than the 330i, and since we have tons of bad quality roads in here, so I won't be worry as much as if I'm in the 330i. And finally, for me there is no reason to spend €12,000 more for cosmetics and sunroof, since I still got most of the features in the 330i--I have satnav, I can connect my phone via USB or Bluetooth, I have the same entertainment system as in the 330i, and that's enough for me. On the other hand, if I live in another city, where there is no traffic jam, nice weather, and the road quality is good, I might go for the 330i for sure.