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BMW 3 Series 2010 review

BMW's Piers Scott says that due to the extra features, diesel uptake will increase across the coupe/convertible range.

While there are subtle interior and exterior design changes, there is also a host of extra features and some improvements in engine performance and economy.

Price and position

Prices start from $65,600 and are up as much as $1440, but BMW Group Australia corporate communications manager Piers Scott says that is due to the extra features. Scott expects diesel uptake to increase "substantially" across the coupe/convertible range.

"Sports coupes and convertibles are the last bastion for diesels, but the exhaust note on this is so good, it will attract people," he says.

Mechanical

The top-of-the range 335i coupe and convertible are the latest models to switch from bi-turbo to single twin-scroll technology, leaving the Z4 35is and 35i as the only BMWs still with bi-turbos. Power and torque remain the same at 225kW and 400Nm, but there is an eight per cent reduction in fuel consumption thanks to the twin-scroll turbo.

The 335i models now get the M Sport package as standard equipment. It was previously a $2760 option. For those who don't like the hard suspension, it can be deleted at no extra cost. BMW Group Australia 3 Series product manager Alan Swanson says the coil spring dampers in the M Sport suspension package have been replaced by disc spring valve types for a more compliant ride. It makes a difference and overrides the harshness of the run-flat tyres that are standard across the range.

Unfortunately, the new dampers don't come with the M Sport suspension package in the convertible, which is the body style that most needs a more compliant ride to reduce scuttle shake.

The M sport package is also available in the 320d, 325i and 330d as before, with largely the same inclusions, but slightly different trims. The new 320d models are now available with a manual transmission and all manuals across the range feature stop/start technology as well as the M3 with double-clutch transmission.

BMW claims the technology delivers fuel savings on the 320d manual coupe of 0.8 litres per 100km. That is despite the diesel engine pumping out an extra 5kW of power and 30Nm of torque (135kW and 380Nm).

Scott says they were unsure how many customers would opt for manual transmission to get the stop-start feature. "It may be a surprisingly high proportion, but we don't have an exact target as yet," he says.

Equipment and design

Styling changes are minimal and only the BMW anorak will notice. And while there is the same number of models available as before, there is now an Innovations Package available for the 320d, 325i and 330d that includes a range of LED light features, adaptive headlights and satellite navigation, while the 325i and 330d also get voice control anti-dazzle mirrors and a better audio system.

Swanson says savings on the package are greater than 25 per cent and he predicts more than 60 per cent of customers will take up the option. While Dakota oyster-coloured leather is now standard, there is a variety of options available to personalise the vehicle.

There are now three new metallic paint options lifting the choices to 15, an extra interior trim choice (bamboo grain anthracite) making it six options and nine wheel designs - four of them new - across three wheel sizes (17, 18 and 19-inch). There has been no change to the operation of the hard-top folding roof. It still goes up or down in about 22 seconds and will only operate when stationary. The only change to the M3 are redesigned rear lights, white metallic exterior paint, stop-start on the DCT, and slightly better economy and CO2 emissions.

Driving

BMW supplied only the most altered models, the 320d and 335i, on the national launch through the Brisbane hinterland this week (August 4-5). There has been a slight performance boost in the 320d and I would be lying if I said it was noticeable.

However, I can say it is a remarkably lusty performer at low revs which means a driver can hustle it along and still feel calm. I harassed the rear end of a 335i going up the twisty hotmix on the northern approach to Mt Mee and when we arrived at the next stop my nerves were at peace while the other driver got out of his high-revving 335i with his trousers on fire.

The 320d rewards a lazy driver. The 335i mainlines caffeine into its pilot. The main difference to be felt on the test drive was in the new M Sport suspension.

BMW's damper tweaking has been very effective, taking the harsh bang out of sudden jolts, while keeping the car sitting flat and unrattled. The cars felt composed over the craggy tar that runs around Somerset Dam and our kidneys and the fillings in our teeth were still in place at the end. While the four-cylinder diesel engine sounds less raucous, the real advantage in the manual convertible is that auto stop-start completely silences it when you are stopped at the lights.

Pricing guides

$14,990
Based on 97 cars listed for sale in the last 6 months
Lowest Price
$8,500
Highest Price
$38,800

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
330d 3.0L, Diesel, 6 SP AUTO $16,900 – 23,540 2010 BMW 3 Series 2010 330d Pricing and Specs
320d Executive Touring 2.0L, Diesel, 6 SP AUTO $11,300 – 16,610 2010 BMW 3 Series 2010 320d Executive Touring Pricing and Specs
335i 3.0L, PULP, 6 SP MAN $21,900 – 29,700 2010 BMW 3 Series 2010 335i Pricing and Specs
320i Touring Executive 2.0L, PULP, 6 SP AUTO $9,100 – 13,640 2010 BMW 3 Series 2010 320i Touring Executive Pricing and Specs
Pricing Guide

$8,500

Lowest price, based on 80 car listings in the last 6 months

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