It had been a while since the last time I got behind the wheel of a BMW, so getting the opportunity to review the 2021 BMW 330i was a bit of a treat. More than anything, it was a reminder of why the BMW 3 Series is so darn popular here in the US.

The 2021 330i is a deceptively brilliant car IMHO. On one hand, it’s luxurious and plush. On the other hand, it’s rowdy enough to make you feel like you’re driving a seriously capable sports car.

Scott from driving a 2021 BMW 330i
“Blah blah blah..” Basically, the TLDR of this entire review is that I think the 330i is the perfect car for mature adults who are aren’t quite ready to let go of their youth.

My full (brutally honest) review of the 2021 BMW 330i

I spent two full days with the car that you’ll see in these pictures. I drove it 124 miles from Los Angeles to San Diego on the first day. I then drove it around San Diego and made a little video about my experience the day after (which will be posted here soon).

So what did I learn from that experience? Basically, there’s a lot I liked about the 2021 330i. There were also a number of things that I didn’t quite like. Let me explain…

First impressions

Full disclosure: the 330i in this review was a rental car that I picked up from the Los Angeles International Airport. It was a 2021 model that had 37,000 miles on the odometer, so yeah – it had been around.

2021 black bmw 330i
My very first moment with this 330i (picking it up at LAX). All I could really think was how epic of a drive it was going to be down to San Diego that evening. Woot!

I’m not going to lie. Walking up to this car for the very first time and pressing the unlock button on the key fob put a big honkin’ smile on my face. There’s just something about the BMW3 Series that has always appealed to me, and this 330i hit me right in the feels.

2021 black bmw 330i front 3/4 view
< Joey Tribbiani voice > How you doin’? < / Joey Tribbiani voice >
Driving a 2021 bmw 330i
I’m not totally sure, but I do believe that this is what is referred to as “straight ballin’.”

The interior

This is a bit unconventional for my normal car reviews, but I’m beginning this one with an overview of the interior. I was in a bit of a hurry to get down to San Diego that evening, so I just had to jump in and go. And let me tell you: the 2 and a half hours I spent driving down the 405 from Los Angeles to San Diego gave me plenty to think about.

Black 2021 bmw 330i interior
No, it’s not the most extravagant (or nicest looking) car interior I’ve ever seen, but it’s functionally perfect IMHO.
2021 bmw 330i front seats
The front seats are excellent for long road trips – though I would prefer a bit more side bolstering. And I’ll take more lumbar support too, because I’m old (with old people ailments).

I know. I’m basically repeating everything that I said in my 2015 BMW 328i review. BMW interiors aren’t all that amazing, but they are (mostly) stylish and (extremely) functional.

2021 bmw 330i interior details
I’m not sure what I think about all the chrome accents. I think it’s nice. But it’s a bit over the top (maybe). Somewhat. Sort of? I don’t know. 
2021 bmw 330i interior buttons and knobs
At least the volume control is an actual rotating knob. Most everything else has gone push-button. Booo!
2021 bmw 330i center console controls
Speaking of knobs, the one on the center console for controlling the touch-screen infotainment display was confusing AF. Why does this even exist?!
2021 bmw 330i steering wheel controls
Once you learn what all these buttons on the steering wheel can do, you’ll love how user-centric this interior really is. Until then, have fun reading the owners manual (and watching random YouTube videos) trying to figure out how all this **** works.
2021 bmw 330i dashboard
Other than the slightly-too-small infotainment screen, I quite like the dashboard and overall layout of the controls. The beefy steering wheel adds to the experience (that’s what she said).

I found all the buttons and knobs to be exactly where they needed to be. The gauge cluster was a far over-complicated and extremely annoying for my tastes, but the seats and the overall driving position was fantastic.

2021 bmw 330i rear seats
Even the back seat drivers will be comfortable!
2021 bmw 330i sunroof
By the way, the sunroof was really nice (which is a huge compliment considering how bald and delicate I am).


The second thing I got to know about the 2021 330i is how well it performed in a wide variety of driving conditions. As you might expect, it was an absolute joy to drive. It’s quiet and buttery smooth when you want it to be, yet ferocious and potent or whatever you mash the throttle.

Driving a 2021 BMW 330i POV
“Yeee-hawwww!” (Or something like that)

The 2.0 L four-cylinder turbocharged engine (producing 255hp / 295 lb ft of torque) is a perfect match for this chassis. I really didn’t feel like it needed any more power for spirited daily driving.

2021 BMW 330i 2.0 L engine
The 2.0 L 4-cylinder engine under all that plastic cladding is a mighty fine piece of automotive engineering IMHO. It’s buttery-smooth all throughout the RPM range, and it has the power to put a menacing-looking grin on your face.


The nice thing about reviewing cars in Southern California is that you can test them on a wide variety of roads. I spent the first three hours in this car on the freeway – which included everything from slogging through bumper to bumper traffic to high speed blasts that would be irresponsible of me to describe in any amount of detail.

2021 BMW 330i 18” wheels
This particular car had 18” wheels (with 225/45R18 tires), and it handled spirited runs through the SoCal canyons fairly well. At the very least, it’ll hang with the riced-out Honda Civics you’ll see out there.

I found the 2021 BMW 330i to be an excellent highway cruiser. It was comfortable and easy to drive in gridlock traffic, and it even did really well on tight canyon roads.

Driving a 2021 BMW 330i on the freeway
As you can see, it’s pretty much impossible to drive this car without any amount of “gangsta-lean.” It just happens naturally for some reason.

It was the way that it handled in the canyons that surprised me the most. The 2021 330i weighs 3,582 lbs, and I expected it to be a bit of a slouch going around corners. In reality, it feels light on its feet and capable of hanging with far more capable vehicles.

Build quality

I didn’t even realize until the end of the second day that this car had nearly 37,000 miles on it (a result of the confusing instrument cluster I was talking about earlier).

Black 2021 BMW 330i side view
Look at all those surface scratches! This 330i has lived a hard life as rental car, and the merciless San Diego sun reveals it all. Poor car.

Despite being a rental car with that many miles on the clock, it’s still drove like it was brand new. The “new car smell” was long gone, but the body was rigid and the interior panels were tight. 

2021 BMW 330i interior panels
All the plastic bits seem to be holding up well after 37,000 miles. Everything still worked, and nothing broke off in my hands, so it’s all good I guess.

I’ve heard a lot of complaints about BMW build quality going downhill over recent years, but there is nothing about this 330i that made me want to nod my head in agreement.

BMW badge on a 2021 330i
Someone please remind me never to buy a black car. Thanks.


The BMW design language has seemed to go off the rails in recent years. Thankfully the 2021 model has none of the aggressive design elements that newer models have, and that alone makes it worth buying. I think it’s an extremely well-proportioned and classy looking vehicle.

2021 bmw 330i rear 3/4 view
Even though I am a bit of a self-proclaimed *** man, it’s hard to disagree that this is one of the best rear ends in existence.
2021 bmw 330i front end details
Yeah, I could personally live without the blingy chrome bits, but the front end of the 330i is pretty nice too.
2021 bmw 330i design details
And yes – it does look a bit generic from some angles, but it’s mostly a good looking car.
2021 bmw 330i all black
Would it have been foolish of me to ask the rental car people if I could keep it? I didn’t want to push my luck.

I especially like how the black accents work together to give an otherwise elegant design a “sports car” appearance. This really is a car that can appeal to many different kinds of buyers.

Gas mileage

Complain all you want about small displacement turbocharged engines in high-end(ish) cars such this, but the benefits far outweigh the negatives. I put approximately 200 miles on this car, and averaged about 24.5 miles per gallon through all of it.

2021 bmw 330i at gas station
Filling it up with 91 octane before returning it to the rental car place. Yup – it was my way of saying “thanks” to this thing for being such a pleasure to drive over the past two days.

I drove this car really hard (ripping away from stoplights was ridiculously fun) and I expected far worse MPG. Driven like a sane human being, the 2021 BMW 3 Series with the 2.0 L four-cylinder engine has the potential to be a total gas miser.

Final thoughts (and buying advice)

The fact that you made it to the end of this review it’s a pretty good indication that you’re darn serious about getting a 2021 BMW 330i of your own. To reward you for having the strength to slog through another one of my stupid car reviews, I will say this: despite the long list of BMW 3 Series pros and consit’s a car that’s worth every penny (no matter how much you have to overpay to get one).

2021 bmw 330i trunk space
Oh, and for the record, there was no “junk in the trunk.” You know I had to check.

There’s a reason why the BMW 3 Series is so popular. In my opinion, it’s the best overall choice for driving enthusiasts who can only have one car. Especially the 2021 model.

It’s fast yet subtle, sporty yet elegant. You can drive it like a race car on the way to work, and then use it to drive around high-end clients all day. It’s basically Clark Kent in vehicular format.

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