BMW's popular 3-Series sporting models have always been an attractive compromise between luxury and sporting prowess, and the BMW 330d Coupe is no exception.
Featuring a powerful turbo-diesel engine, the 330d Coupe brings over 100Nm of extra torque to the table than the range-topping BMW M3 can muster, and matches its 250km/h limited top speed.
The real shock comes in just how economical the 330d Coupe is, with fuel consumption and emissions figures that would put most other luxury-sports cars to shame, and can even give some econo-boxes a run for their money.
The Coupe loses a minimal amount of legroom and headroom in the rear compared to its sedan stablemate, but the more agile and attractive exterior looks make the trade-off worth considering.
2010 BMW 330d Coupe with optional M-Sport package.
Launched several months ago, the 330d Coupe is one of a handful of new diesel models from BMW that build on the 3-Series range.
While the 330d Sedan is now almost a year old, the newer 330d Coupe carries over many of its features, including the aluminium straight-six engine found under the hood. However, the styling and bodytype for the 2010 330d Coupe is relatively new and, along with the Convertible and Touring variants, broadens the types of vehicles on offer in the 3-Series lineup.
What's the appeal?
Athletic and attractive Coupe styling, a stonking engine with fantastic pulling power, and fuel economy to help keep long-term costs down.
What features does it have?
As the 330d Coupe is relatively high up in the 3-Series range, it comes with a number of standard features that you won't find on lesser models.
The feature list includes a six-speed automatic transmission, full Dakota Leather interior and trim, sports-multifunction leather steering wheel, Bluetooth telephone connectivity, Automatic Climate Control, Park Distance Control, and 17-inch alloy wheels.
Other standard features on the 330d Coupe include Business Navigation, bi-xenon adaptive headlights, a 10 speaker harmon/kardon audio system, and electric driver and passenger sports seats with memory function.
Our test model also featured the M-Sport package, which adds an aggressive-looking bodykit and a stiffer suspension to make the 330d Coupe even more sporty.
What's under the bonnet?
At the heart of the 330d Coupe lies an all-aluminium 3.0 litre straight-six diesel. With variable turbine geometry, the turbo-charged diesel 'six' provides optimum power across a broad rev range. You can feel its urge ever-present under the foot, ready to be tapped into immediately it's called upon.
Producing 180kW of power and 520Nm of torque, the 3.0 litre diesel sees the 330d Coupe cover the 0-100km/h sprint in 6.1 seconds. Its torque figure betters the current M3 (which offers a far-from-paltry) 400Nm of twisting power, and, put to work in the 330d Coupe, it matches the M3's 250km/h-limited top speed.
The BMW 330d Coupe is only available with a 6-speed automatic transmission.
How does it drive?
Like all BMW models, the 330d Coupe benefits from the Bavarian manufacturer's focus on handling and balance. Its 50:50 weight distribution gives the 330d an assured (and reassuring) balance in almost all driving conditions. Few cars feel as well-planted on the road at speed, whatever the surface.
The engine is an impressive piece of engineering. Acceleration and overtaking manoeuvres are astonishingly quick thanks to the vast amounts of torque. The turbocharger is brilliantly engineered to the characteristics of the diesel; it provides a progressive wall of urge without noticeable lag from nearly any speed.
Despite being a diesel, noise from under the bonnet is relatively muted. Little clatter, if any, makes its way into the cabin and there are none of the typical 'rough-edged' rumblings normally associated with oil-burners.
The automatic transmission's sport mode allows you to have fun without the car biting your head off. We found the transmission more than capable of figuring out what we wanted to do.
In fact, thanks to the brilliant and intuitive way the sports-mode transmission works, the steering-wheel mounted shifters are largely unnecessary. They do provide a greater sense of control when needed, and they're fun to use (in that particular BMW way of paddle-operation: fingers for up-shifts, thumbs for down-shifts).
Steering and chassis feel are both spot-on. The steering has just the right amount of weight to inspire confidence, and feedback through the run-flat tires is much improved and getting better with every new model (compared to the teething problems when run-flats were first introduced on earlier models).
Road noise in the car is kept well in check, and when driving on the highway or around town the 330d Coupe keeps the intrusions of the outside world insulated away.
Braking and suspension, as you'd expect with such a pedigree, are strong points for the 330d. Our car had the stiffer M-Sport suspension, which is great for spirited driving around smooth roads, but not as fantastic for potholes and speedbumps.
For those seeking a less sporty level of ride-comfort, it might be better to avoid the M-Sport package’s stiffer suspension.
Overall, visibility is good in the car, and with standard features such as Park Distance Control you won't have any trouble slotting into parking spaces or navigating around town, especially with the standard Business Navigation system.
Using the iDrive navigation/entertainment system while driving makes things fairly simple once you become accustomed to how it works. Every now and then however, some functions can prove tedious to figure out (most likely, if we'd had more time with the car, we suspect this wouldn't have been a problem).
As a mid-size executive Coupe, the 330d ticks almost all of our boxes in terms of its driving experience. It is a blast when pushed, yet relaxing enough to waft home in after a hard day's work.
What did our passengers think?
The BMW 330d has a couple of party tricks up its sleeve to impress passengers, depending on how it is optioned.
BMW's 'Comfort Access' system - BMW's words for a proximity key - recognises the approach of the driver and automatically unlocks the doors, allowing the car to be started without inserting the key.
Passengers will be impressed by the handsome exterior looks, as well as the tasteful leather interior and sumptuous seat comfort. Our test model featured the M-Sport bodykit, which adds a more sporty and hunkered-down look to the car and brings it a step closer to its big brother, the M3.
Then there is BMW's 'Seatbelt Handover' system, which automatically offers the driver and front passenger their seatbelt once they are seated - eliminating the classic problem of the seat-belt holders being too far back for comfortable access (which can be a problem in coupes).
Additionally, the four-seater 330d Coupe is reasonably roomy in the back. The majority of passengers will find head and legroom ample, although taller people may find it more of a squeeze.
Interior Quality and Feel?
Interior quality and feel is fantastic, with an abundance of high-quality materials throughout the car. The premium leather seats are well-shaped for comfort, even over long distances. Flawlessly trimmed, they complement the handsome dashboard and centre console to create a luxurious and warm interior.
The placement of a navigation/entertainment display in the centre console makes it easy to operate BMW's iDrive in-car control system, and the system's layout and controls are elegant and simple to look at - although using the actual iDrive system may take some practice.
Luggage space in the 330d Coupe is good, with 440 litres available in the boot - just 20 litres less than the sedan variant.
Folding down the rear seats adds extra storage space, and a handy opening in the middle of the rear seats allows you to transport skis with relative ease.
How safe is it?
The BMW 330d Coupe features the usual array of safety features and systems seen on modern luxury cars, including an Anti-lock Braking System (ABS), Automatic Stability Control and Traction Control (ASC+T), Cornering Brake Control (CBC), Cruise Control with brake function, Dynamic Brake Control (DBC), and Dynamic Stability Control (DSC).
Airbags abound, with dual front, side and full-length curtain airbags fitted.
A tyre pressure monitor lets you know if a tyre is deflating or has deflated, and with runflat tyres as standard you can still drive at up to 80km/h even with a flat.
Additionally, a brake-pad monitor informs you of the state of the brake-pads, giving ample warning to get things replaced should they start to wear out.
Fuel Consumption and Green Rating
Fuel consumption is one of the BMW's most impressive aspects - during city driving you'll be using around 8.0L/100km, but highway driving sees this drop to around 5.2L/100km for a combined average of 6.2L/100km - not much more than a Toyota Yaris uses.
In our tests we averaged slightly worse than this - partially our fault: we spent a bit of time stretching out the turbocharged straight-six under the bonnet.
Emissions-wise, the 330d Coupe emits 164g/km, and garners a Green Rating of 3.5 stars from the Government's Green Vehicle Guide.
How does it compare?
Rivals from traditional German competitors such as Audi and Mercedes-Benz are proving resilient and popular. Audi's A5 3.0TDI is perhaps the 330d's closest competitor, and while it is an attractive car, in our opinion the drive isn't quite up to the level of the BMW.
Mercedes also offers some diesel options in its E-Class Coupe range, but, for our money, we'd take the 330d for its less-awkward appearance and greater emphasis on dynamics.
Is it expensive to maintain?
BMW's Service Centers tend to be a little more expensive than most (but it's a premium car remember).
BMW advises that there are no scheduled services for new BMW models as onboard computers determine when a service is necessary; a general rule of thumb is once every 15,000km or two years at an average cost of $900 per service.
BMW offers a paltry (by today's standards) two year/unlimited kilometre warranty, and a 12-year warranty on bodywork and three year warranty on paintwork.
Available non-metallic exterior colours include Alpine White, Black, and Crimson Red, while metallic colours include Sapphire Black, Bluewater, Deep Sea Blue, Havanna, Mineral White, Montego Blue, Platinum Bronze, Space Grey, Tasman, Titanium Silver and Vermilion Red.
Inside, the Dakota leather is available in Black, Coral Red, Cream Beige, Grey, Saddle Brown and Oyster/Black.
The BMW 330d Coupe starts from $94,050 plus on-road and dealer costs. Option it up, of course, and that figure rises.
The versatile and entertaining BMW 330d Coupe is a TMR favourite. While it's comfortable for long trips and capable of seating four passengers and luggage, the 330d is also a formidable sports saloon, with enough power and grip to put a smile on anyone's face.
If you're worried about the suspension being too stiff, you can specify the M-Sport package without the stiffer suspension.
Thanks to its stylish athletic exterior lines and tasteful interior, the 330d is also a headturner. It comes well-configured with standard features and with more than enough 'toys' to keep most satisfied.
While competitors from Audi and Mercedes can make a strong case, the 330d represents the most complete package in terms of drive, sporting capability and presentation.