- the bmw 330i averaged a whopping 42 mpg on our 75-mph highway fuel-economy test, the best of any compact luxury sedan.
- it also betters many lesser-performing cars that are more focused on fuel economy, including some hybrids.
- that the latest 3-series achieved this while at the same time improving its braking and cornering results by more than 10 percent is truly remarkable.
the new 3-series' multifaceted improvements in its test numbers are ones that usually require pixie dust: the entry-level, four-cylinder 330i is at least as quick as before—in some measures, such as zero-to-60-mph time, it's slightly quicker—while chalking up huge improvements in braking and cornering grip and at the same time improving fuel economy.
we barely could believe the pixels on our ti-85 calculator when they were staring back at us in the shape of a 42 after computing the results of a 200-mile highway-fuel-economy run at 75 mph in the latest 330i. what makes its big four-two result even more remarkable is that this particular test car had all the m sport goodies on it, including grippy michelin pilot sport 4s tires.
that makes the 330i easily the best in the compact-luxury-sedan segment, tying the jaguar xe, which was a diesel. it also counterintuitively shames an array of lesser-performing cars, such as the honda civic, the toyota corolla, the hyundai ioniq hybrid (41), the mazda 3 (39), even the bmw 530e hybrid (38). it's also just 2 mpg behind what we saw in the latest toyota camry hybrid.
it's doubly impressive that the 3 achieved this level of efficiency, 1 mpg better in our fuel-economy test than the previous-gen 330i, while simultaneously improving dramatically in cornering and braking. it hung on for 0.94 g on the skidpad and stopped from 70 mph in 150 feet, both gains of more than 10 percent. this latest rear-drive 330i also beat out its all-wheel-drive 330i xdrive sibling in braking, on the skidpad, and by 4 mpg in our fuel-economy test. the new 330i's epa fuel-economy ratings notched higher with this latest redesign, improving by 2 mpg in both city and highway (from 24/34 city/highway to 26/36).
although we still have some reservations about the way the latest 3-series feels, particularly the steering, there's no question bmw worked some engineering magic with its impressive combination of improvements to both performance and fuel economy.