A sophisticated, sporty drive into the future
WORDS: Greg Pride PHOTOGRAPHY Brian Usher - www.usherusher.com
The new BMW 330i M Sport is a gleaming grey Bavarian pleasure machine with an impressive array of cutting-edge bells and whistles.
WE’RE zipping through the verdant Currumbin Valley in style, test-driving the scintillating new BMW 330i.
It’s a sunny, if slightly chilly, winter Sunday morning but we’re cocooned in the comfort and luxury of the heated leather sports seats as we negotiate the winding road through this stunning part of the Coast they call the ‘green behind the Gold’.
We picked up the car from Gold Coast BMW the previous afternoon and settled on an early morning spin into the hinterland to put this gleaming grey Bavarian pleasure machine through its paces. The opportunity to photograph the vehicle against the equally beautiful backdrop of the new $20 million weddings and function venue, The Valley Estate, is an added bonus.
The Beemer we’re driving is the 330i M Sport with the Comfort and Visibility Package, the well optioned version of the acclaimed 330i sedan boasting added extras including a smart glass sunroof, metallic paintwork, ambient lighting and laser headlights. (added extras do not come standard)
Sophisticated yet sporty, the 330i is part of the 7th generation of BMW’s iconic 3 Series, first unveiled in 1975 and still the German carmaker’s mainstay model – a testament to its enduring popularity as one of the world’s all-time favourite luxury saloons (though the 330i is also now available as a touring wagon).
“The 3 Series is the BMW model that everyone talks about and the new 330i will definitely keep them talking,” Alem Saltovic, Product Genius at Gold Coast BMW, enthuses before we hit the road.
Alem also runs through some of his favourite features of the car, including the vast array of hi-tech bells and whistles for which BMW has always been renowned.
Features such as the wireless smartphone charging pad, and the automated driver profile system which allows you to preset seat and steering wheel positioning for different drivers, be it yourself or your partner.
Particularly impressive is BMW’s Digital Key which allows you to use your smartphone to unlock, lock and start the vehicle.
“The digital key is stored in the My BMW app or Wallet app on your smartphone and you can actually text a copy of the key to someone else to drive the vehicle if you’re not anywhere near them,” Alem says.
“The key can also be used to limit speed on the vehicle if, say, you want to let your P-plater son or daughter drive the car.”
Then there’s Parking Assistant Plus, which ingeniously parks the car for you and can also reverse out of a tight parking spot, such as a garage, back to your precise entry point.
It’s part of BMW’s clever driver assistance suite of features which, in the 330i, also includes Driver Assistant Professional, boasting cross-traffic warning on the front and rear, steering and lane control and lane-keeping with side collision warning.
Alem is also a big fan of the 10.25” touch-screen control display and the heated exterior mirrors that remain unfogged and pristine even on the coldest mornings.
As well, the 3 Series boasts BMW’s ‘Intelligent Personal Assistant’ which uses voice recognition to automatically control air-conditioning, lights, media etc. Simply say ‘Hey BMW’ ‘I’m cold’ and the Personal Assistant will adjust the climate control. Tell the assistant ‘I’m hungry’ and it’ll guide you to the nearest cafe.
Another innovative feature of the 330i is BMW’s world-first gesture control system, with a camera in the roof recognising hand gestures to control actions such as turning up or down the radio (twirl your finger clockwise or anticlockwise).
With its generous 480-litre boot, the 330i is popular with everyone from families wanting a sportier sedan to young professionals wanting to get around town in style, with plenty of room for luggage or sporting equipment.
“They really do appeal to a wide demographic of buyers,” Alem says.
Now it’s time to drive!
Powered by a 190kW/400Nm 2.0-litre, four-cylinder turbocharged engine, controlled by an 8-speed Steptronic Sport transmission, the 330i goes from 0-100km/h in under six seconds and you can feel the sheer power the moment you hit the accelerator.
We zoom through Currumbin Valley, the muscular M leather steering wheel comforting and responsive in the hands as BMW’s Head-Up Display in the windscreen conveniently keeps tabs on our speed and any looming hazards.
Gliding through sun-dappled stands of towering trees, past cascading sections of Currumbin Creek with cows grazing contentedly by its banks, the 330i’s M Sport Suspension and stability control system allow us to breeze through the tight bends with ease even at speed.
In no time at all, we’re at the end of the valley in the shadow of Mt Cougal and it’s time to return to The Valley Estate for the photos.
ORM Test Drive
Here, Ocean Road’s Fashion & Beauty Editor Melissa Usher takes the wheel to give the car the once-over from a female perspective.
“The first thing that strikes me is how stylish it is both inside and out – no surprises there I guess given that it’s a BMW,” she says later.
“I really love the heated seats and the car has certainly got some power! It’s just a dream to drive.”
As a mother of three, Melissa was also impressed by the size of the 330i, which was named Drive Car of the Year Best Medium Luxury Car for 2021.
“The interior is spacious and there’s so much room in the boot, which is so important when you have a family,” she says.
The Hunters & Collectors hit, Holy Grail, is fittingly blaring from the 10-speaker Harman Kardon sound system as we pull into Gold Coast BMW to reluctantly return the car after our sublime driving experience.
Fittingly, because in the 330i, we may just have found the holy grail of luxury performance sedans.
The 330i is priced from $77,900 + on road costs. (Please note that some of the features mentioned do not come standard)
Model: Melissa Usher – Ocean Road Magazine Fashion & Beauty Editor
Fashion: Lisa Brown Design