Every year, the BMW 3-Series ranks among the top small luxury cars. This European sedan’s confident handling and effortless acceleration make it fun to drive. Meanwhile, spacious accommodations enable the 3-Series to satisfy families. Although the latest model looks more modern, this car still features some distinctive BMW styling cues. Should you head out to buy a new 2021 BMW 3-Series?
What’s New for 2021?
This year, a new plug-in hybrid model arrives. It’s designed for drivers who want a more eco-friendly ride. No other big changes are seen on the 2021 BMW 3-Series.
Top 10 Reasons to Buy a 2021 BMW 3-Series – The Pros
1. Base Engine Delivers Ample Performance
BMW’s 2.0-liter, TwinPower Turbo four-cylinder engine is the standard power source. For good reason, this engine has become extremely popular. It delivers a near-perfect mixture of power and efficient. Total output stands at a more than adequate 255 horsepower. When accelerating, drivers can move out quickly. Models equipped with the base engine can scamper to 60 mph in a brisk 5.6 seconds. In terms of fuel economy, drivers can plan on getting up to 36 mpg.
2. M340i Model Competes On a Higher Level
The M340i is the most fun-to-drive model in the 2021 BMW 3-Series lineup. It replaces the base power source with a turbocharged six-cylinder engine. BMW tunes it to churn out an addictive 382 horsepower. A 0-60 mph time of 3.8 seconds makes the M340i model feel like a rocket off the line. There are also a few goodies that enhance handling, including an upgraded sport suspension and BMW’s M Sport differential.
3. All-New 330e Model
The all-new 330e model is for drivers who desire a plug-in hybrid. According to the EPA, this version of the 2021 BMW 3-Series will return a combined 28 mpg. However, all-electric mode truly separates the 330e from the rest of the lineup. Drivers can make short trips without using any gas. Performance is also strong. BMW lists the 330e with a total output of 181 horsepower. However, a cool XtraBoost feature momentarily boosts output by 40 horsepower.
4. Handles With Amazing Poise
While some performance upgrades are available for the new 2021 BMW 3-Series, this car handles extraordinarily well right out the box. It can easily hang with many of today’s pure sports sedans. The car’s athletic reflexes will surprise a lot of people. Drivers will especially enjoying taking the 3-Series on a back road. They can expect the 3-Series to tightly hug curves. Despite the sedan having such a taut suspension, ride comfort remains solid.
5. Very Intelligent Automatic Transmission
Some drivers will be disappointed in the sedan’s lack of an available manual transmission. The good news is that the eight-speed Steptronic offers precise shifting. It’s a perfect match for all the available powertrains. Very few transmissions are more intelligent. BMW actually engineered the transmission to predict upcoming curves. When the car’s navigation system detects a bend in the road, it will send this information to the transmission. This helps ensure accurate shifting.
6. Modern Yet Familiar Exterior Styling
Although this sedan has changed over the years, onlookers will still know it’s a BMW product. A signature twin-kidney grille spans the front fascia. Quad headlights also come standard. Buyers can elevate the car’s styling with BMW’s popular M Sport package. It decks out the 3-Series with exclusive performance wheels and racier body treatments. The package also lowers the car for an intimidating stance. Red brake calipers are optional on the powerful 340i model.
7. Clean and Elegant Interior
Despite being classified as a small luxury sedan, the 2021 BMW 3-Series is roomy. This is a huge benefit for families. There’s enough legroom in the back to satisfy adults. Testers also applaud the 3-Series for its supportive seats. Car shoppers will certainly like the cabin’s clean and elegant appearance. Although leather-trimmed seats are on the list of options, BMW’s standard Sensatec upholstery is nice enough. When it comes to overall interior quality, the 3-Series ranks among the top half of the segment.
8. Standard & Optional Safety Tech
The new 2021 BMW 3-Series provides good crash protection for every passenger. Buyers also won’t have to pay extra for automatic emergency braking. This system does a fine job of monitoring the road for unexpected hazards. Lane departure warning is another standard driving aid. A Driving Assistant Professional package is optional. It combines several other active safety technologies, including adaptive cruise control and front cross-traffic detection.
9. Several Options Offered
Most luxury car shoppers will be happy with the base model’s equipment. Nevertheless, there are some worthwhile options to consider. Music fans won’t regret upgrading to the Harman Kardon premium sound system. Meanwhile, a head-up display puts the gauge cluster’s info in your direct line of sight. Heated front and rear seats make life in January more comfortable. BMW’s fully digital gauge cluster is another option worth considering.
10. Reasonable Starting Price
German luxury cars can be a bit expensive. However, the new BMW 3-Series actually has a reasonable starting price. BMW lists the 3-Series with a starting MSRP under $41,000. Keep in mind that the new 3-Series comes loaded with enough luxury features. A large 10.2-inch touchscreen with navigation, LED headlights, and automatic braking are all found on the base 330i model.
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Reasons Not to Buy a 2021 BMW 3-Series – The Cons
1. Manual Transmission is Missing In Action
For years, BMW has offered the 3-Series with a manual transmission. However, that’s no longer the case. While the car’s Steptronic automatic transmission is great, some drivers still love the control of a traditional manual transmission. Folks who need a manual gearbox should take a look at the 2021 Genesis G70. Its six-speed manual transmission is smooth and easy to use.
2. Can Get Expensive With Options
The new 2021 BMW 3-Series is an obtainable luxury sedan. However, adding options will cause the car’s total cost to climb. Even all-wheel drive is a rather expensive option. Upgrading the car’s performance capabilities will also cost buyers more money. Prices for the more powerful M340i model begin at nearly $55,000. A less expensive alternative to the 3-Series is the new Acura ILX.
3. No Android Auto
Apple CarPlay is standard on every new 3-Series. This is a plus for drivers who own an iPhone. However, Android Auto isn’t even offered. Android phone users will have to connect their device using BMW’s integration software, which may not be as easy. Many of today’s other entry-level luxury sedans now come standard with Android Auto.
4. Lack of Steering Feel
In the past, the BMW 3-Series had one of the segment’s best steering systems. Drivers were rewarded with excellent road feedback. Sadly, BMW’s latest electric steering system is not very communicative. It causes some drivers to feel disconnected from the car.
5. Cost of Maintenance
Drivers who are upgrading from a regular family sedan should research the 3-Series’ cost of maintenance. It’s not uncommon for owners to spend more than $1,500 a year in maintenance and repairs. This is typical for many other European luxury sedans.
How It Stacks Up to the Competition
2021 BMW 3-Series vs 2021 Genesis G70
Although the Genesis G70 may be the new kid on the block, it’s already being mentioned among the segment’s top models. Many drivers will love the G70's precise road handling and available manual transmission. Genesis also gives the G70 a long warranty. While the G70 has many upsides, some buyers will find the BMW 3-Series to be just a touch more luxurious. There’s also not as much passenger room in the G70’s rear seat.
2021 BMW 3-Series vs 2021 Mercedes C-Class
The 3-Series and C-Class have long battled for the segment’s top spot. Expect the inside of the C-Class to feel especially plush and luxurious. There are also some cutting-edge safety features available for the C-Class. According to some car reviewers, the 3-Series offers the best handling.
2021 BMW 3-Series vs 2021 Audi A4
Most car critics agree that the 2021 Audi A4 has an impeccable interior. Its infotainment system is among the best around. Both the A4 and the 3-Series handle extremely well. While the Audi A4 is a great car, only the 3-Series offers a plug-in hybrid model with an electric driving mode.
Although some newcomers have arrived on the scene, the 2021 BMW 3-Series is poised to remain among the segment’s best-selling cars. Drivers who desire a sportier luxury car can’t go wrong with the new 3-Series. Even the base 3-Series can deliver an entertaining drive. However, acceleration and handling will be especially good in the potent 340i model. A roomy backseat gives you more reason to like this small luxury sedan.
Before buying a new 3-Series, be sure to sample its latest iDrive infotainment system. While some people love it, others consider it to be unnecessarily complicated. Remember, adding options can cause the car’s cost to balloon.
• Why buy a 2020 BMW 3-Series? w/ pros vs cons