A taste of things to come: Sampling the BMW G20 330i in Malaysia

Malaysia recently launched BMW’s latest 3 Series (and Z4) just a couple of weeks ago with a fantastic event that didn’t just showcase the Bavarian marque’s latest sports sedan but also played host to its predecessors, with every generation on display and tracing the 3’s lineage back to the cars that started it all, the BMW 2002 and the first ever 3 Series, the E21.

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While most of us from across the border might have had an earlier look at the new G20, few have had yet the opportunity to put the car through its paces. Which is where we came in, armed with an invitation to drive a brand new 330i in Kuala Lumpur. Our drive might have been short, but it gave us more than a taste of what Munich’s latest baby is capable of.

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But first, let us crunch some numbers. The latest 3 series, (G20 in BMW nerd speak), is the seventh generation of Munich’s latest sports sedan and in 330i trim, is able to pump out an impressive 258 horses and 400Nm of twisting force from a Twin-scroll Turbo-ed 2-litre 4-cylinder power plant. Impressive numbers on their own but what’s more notable is that this torque figure matches that of the first ever 335i launched just 2 generations before.

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While overall rigidity levels of the wider (by 16mm), longer (by 76mm) and slightly taller (by 6mm) body structure and suspension attachments have been greatly enhanced over the earlier model, BMW have also managed to bring the overall weight down to 1,545kg. A seemingly small but still significant 25kg reduction.

With more power and less weight, it comes as no surprise that this new 330i is able to propel itself from rest to 100km/h in a scant 5.8 seconds, 0.1 seconds quicker than the previous 330i.

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Inside, BMW have revamped the interior to feature their latest digital instrument cluster, the BMW Live Cockpit Professional. Though personally, I feel that BMW could have done much better with the customisation features. Currently, having the rev-counter spin anti-clockwise just feels counter-intuitive when driving spiritedly and takes some getting used to. Hopefully, BMW will be able to introduce more customisation features to their new digital dashboard soon. How about allowing drivers to toggle back to more “traditional” BMW-style orange gauges?

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With an hour or two to go before heading off to the airport for our flight back to Sunny Singapore, we managed to plonk ourselves into the very comfortable seats of a beautiful Sunset Orange 330i for a short but sweet (and very quick) drive through city traffic leading into a series of meandering highway roads.

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On our short jaunt through the city, ride and comfort levels in the G20 impressed us with most uneven roads soaked up rather well, even with our M Sport equipped suspension. An M Sport equipped suspension system that for the first time, features BMW’s first-ever lift-related dampers that exemplify an innovative damping system that continuously functions in relation to changing spring travel. Effectively neutralising vibrations that occur when compensating for going over bumps or for when taking corners “enthusiastically”.

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Once the roads opened up, our motley crew of auto journalist were to deploy all 258 horses and 400 Nm of torques. Easily dispatching traffic around us and we are happy to report the new G20s are more than capable of tackling high-speed cruises, but at the very limit, our car’s suspension setup does feel a little comfort biased when tackling high speed bends through undulating roads.

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Overall, even though our time with the car was short, we came away very impressed with how well the G20s drive. The BMW 3 Series is no longer just a sports sedan, it’s a sports car with 4 doors. One which we will be looking forward to learning more about on our local roads.

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