Skip advert
Advertisement
In-depth reviews

BMW 3-series – engine and gearbox

Four-cylinder petrol is a little dull, but 3-litre six-cylinder models are excellent. All-wheel drive is an option with all but the 320i and 320d, with a manual no longer available

Evo rating
Price
from £40,205
  • Chassis balance, punchy powertrains, interior quality and tech
  • Lifeless steering, harsh M Sport suspension

In 2024, there are effectively four engines available for the BMW 3-series: the 2-litre B48 four-cylinder petrol, 2-litre four-cylinder diesel, 3-litre inline six-cylinder diesel and range-topping 3-litre inline six-cylinder petrol for the M340i. The 2-litre four-cylinder petrol is available in both pure-combustion and plug-in hybrid forms in the 320i and 330e.

Advertisement - Article continues below

At the bottom of the range is the 2-litre B48-powered 320i with 181bhp and 221lb ft of torque, and while it's far from fast, it still manages a respectable 7.4sec 0-62mph time. The entry-level diesel 320d produces similar power at 187bhp, but an additional 74lb ft of torque helps it cover the 0-62mph sprint in a lower 6.9sec. All models now come with an 8-speed automatic as standard.  

Move up the range to the plug-in hybrid 330e (utilising the same B48 2-litre four-cylinder as the 320i) and power stands at a more potent 288bhp and 310lb ft of torque, making for a 5.8sec 0-62mph in both rear-drive and all-wheel drive forms. Switch to pure electric drive and a 108bhp, 195lb ft output isn't quite as impressive, but is still more than adequate for city driving. 

While there’s nothing desperately wrong with this four-cylinder turbo unit it’s not particularly inspiring either. Power and torque delivery is fine and there’s very little lag to speak of, but aurally it’s pretty disappointing and when this is added to the 3-series’ overall improvement in terms of refinement the overall picture is slightly less sporting in feel than it was before.

The M340i xDrive is the only petrol-engined 3-series with a six-cylinder inline engine, and it doesn't disappoint. Available only with xDrive all-wheel drive, it converts its 369bhp, 369lb ft output to pace remarkably well, achieving a quoted 4.4sec 0-62mph time and 155mph top speed (some independent tests have found the former to be quite conservative, however). Power delivery is relentless when pushing on, but low speed, everyday driving is a comfortable affair, with effortless torque and a silky ZF automatic transmission.

The 3-litre six-cylinder M340d xDrive is the most powerful diesel model of the range, and while its 335bhp output is lower than that of the M340i, a monster 516lb ft torque figure makes it feel just as potent in some scenarios – 0-62mph comes in a quoted 4.6sec.

Skip advert
Advertisement
Skip advert
Advertisement

Most Popular

New Porsche 911 (992.2) revealed – GTS gets 3.6-litre hybrid flat-six
Porsche 911 (992.2) – front
News

New Porsche 911 (992.2) revealed – GTS gets 3.6-litre hybrid flat-six

The Porsche 911 has gained a hybrid powertrain for the first time ever, with the GTS packing a 534bhp electrified flat-six
28 May 2024
Toyota GR Yaris v Mercedes‑AMG A45 S v Hyundai i30 N v Honda Civic Type R
Hot hatch test final four
Group tests

Toyota GR Yaris v Mercedes‑AMG A45 S v Hyundai i30 N v Honda Civic Type R

The rally-bred Toyota GR Yaris, bombastic Mercedes‑AMG A45 S, thrillsome Hyundai i30 N and dazzling Honda Civic Type R are each brilliant in their own…
26 May 2024
New Audi RS4 Edition 25 revealed with uprated chassis and more power
Audi RS4 Edition 25 – front
News

New Audi RS4 Edition 25 revealed with uprated chassis and more power

Audi Sport marks the end of the RS4 with a 25th anniversary special with engine and suspension upgrades
28 May 2024