Parkers overall rating: 4.5 out of 5 4.5
  • An attractive range of petrol and diesel with plenty of power
  • Outstanding driving experience with great comfort and control
  • Very impressive active safety technology

BMW 330d xDrive (2020) driving

The bread-and-butter 318d, 320d, 320i and 330i models feature 2.0-litre, four-cylinder turbo motors. The range-topping M340i and 330d use 3.0-litre six-cylinder engines – and if you can afford them are likely to be all the better for it.

The 320d xDrive and 330d xDrive diesels both suit the requirements of a compact executive estate superbly; though with 150hp minimum, no Touring is set to feel slow – even that entry-level 318d diesel model does 0-62mph in as little as 8.8 seconds.

Best all-round choice is the 190hp 320d diesel, however, which promises 0-62mph in 7.1 seconds and up to 64.2mpg. Performance is brisk and lively, refinement is first-rate and we averaged very nearly 50mpg in mixed driving. It really is a rounded engine choice that will suit so many British buyers.

Fastest is the M340i petrol Touring, with xDrive as standard, 374hp and 0-62mph in 4.5 seconds. As for the other petrols, the 184hp 320i makes the benchmark sprint in 7.6 seconds, the 274hp 330i does it in 5.9.

Every 3 Series Touring comes with a choice of driving modes ranging from Eco Pro to Sport Plus, allowing you to fine-tune the experience to your tastes in a genuinely noticeable way.

BMW 3 Series Touring (2020) transmission

Driving the 330d xDrive

Got the funds for one of these? Then don’t hesitate – the 330d is a gorgeous steer from the moment you drop into the seat and press the starter button. This big, 265hp diesel engine is not only buttery smooth and oh-so-powerful – with an enormous 580Nm of torque it really shoves you up the road – it also sounds good and feels good inside the cabin. There are no nasty vibrations, no sensation of waiting for the turbo to wake up, just masses of relentless thrust, all managed by the utterly unflappable eight-speed automatic fitted as standard.

The version tested had the optional xDrive four-wheel drive, but beyond assuring outstanding traction from a standing start – 0-62mph takes just 5.4 seconds – this happily acts like a rear-wheel drive model, at least in the dry. Add a little moisture to the road and its ability to transfer power to the front wheels when required will doubtless make it even more effective on challenging roads.

The performance here is best matched to the heftier feel of the Sport steering setting – the other modes are lighter but conspicuously less precise – while the grip and poise generated by the optional M Adaptive suspension provides great comfort in combination with high cornering speeds. All told, it’s an addictive combination.

Suspension details

BMW offers three different suspension options on the Touring, and even the standard one uses unusually sophisticated ‘lift-related’ shock absorbers with variable damping rates that are automatically adjusted in an effort to maintain a good balance between comfort and control. This technology is also used on the M Sport suspension upgrade, which is 10mm lower and firmer for a more driver-focused experience.

Top of the tree, however, is the M Adaptive option, which features electronically controlled shock absorbers that can individually regulate each corner of the car for maximum effectiveness – as a result this is said to be as dynamic as the regular M Sport set-up but vastly more comfortable.

The M Adaptive is the only suspension we’ve tested so far, but our experience certainly supports that assertion – the car proving great to drive without any sign of discomfort as a result.

Active safety technology

Like most modern cars, the Touring is available with vast amounts of active safety technology, intended to take up the slack when the pathetic human behind the steering wheel inevitably messes things up.

What’s worth noting here, however, is that in our experience so far, BMW’s implementation of this technology is close to sublime. Take the self-steering system, for example, which although active for short periods only before demanding you put your hands back on the wheel, does a super smooth job of maintaining lane positioning.

If you’ve got the digital instrument cluster you can get the 3 Series to display a graphical version of what it’s ‘seeing’ around it, much like you can in the latest models from electric car maker Tesla. This is a surprisingly reassuring design feature and clearly a step on the road towards greater levels of autonomous driving.

And with the ability to update the on-board software via the car’s built-in 4G data connection, BMW now has the option to add further features in this area remotely over time – a concept also pioneered by Tesla.