The BMW 3-Series F30: A Used Sports Sedan Worth Every Cent
We check out the BMW 3-Series F30 to find out what makes it an excellent used sports sedan.
Let’s face it, the market is flooded with used BMW 3-Series models, stretching back as far as the E46 and maybe the E36, and with the latest G20 models still fetching sky high prices, where can you find a nice sweet spot between modernity and price?
The answer to that BMW fans is the F30 generation 3-Series, the last generation to be released in SA before the current G20. The F30 hit BMW dealers back in 2012 and it will always be remembered fondly by South African as the last 3-Series model to be built by BMW SA’s local assembly plant and the first 3-Series where the coupe and cabriolet variants were given their own model designation, the 4-Series.
Now that you know a little more about the F30, why should you buy one? Well, its simple, so let me break it down for you:
- The Styling
Call me biased but I don’t like the look of the latest 3-Series. The body looks too heavy for the wheels, while the E90, the F30’s predecessor, is a little long in the tooth now. That leaves the F30 in position where you have a good-looking car (just check out those headlights and they way they blend into the grille) and one that is loaded modern updates and must-have accessories. If you come across a car that is equipped with the M-Sport package, then you make sure you jump on that sale because these models are quipped with sportier body kits and alloy wheels.
- The Interior
Being just “one generation” older than the latest model makes the F30’s interior a very nice place to be, and you wouldn’t suspect that the car is approaching a decade old. You still get an interior loaded with quality materials, modern BMW switchgear and all the amenities you would expect from a modern BMW like Sat-Nav as part of the much improved i-Drive infotainment system. Once again, if you find an M-Sport edition car, then you also get sportier seats which are borderline on what you would find in the range topping M3. Aside from the amenities, the F30 also offers the most important “standard feature” of any car, seating space and decent luggage space, an important consideration in any sedan.
- The Engine Options
The F30 was launched with a myriad of turbocharged four- and 6-cylinder options in both diesel and petrol variations.
As with all 3-Series, the M3 is the range topper thanks to its straight-6 twin-turbocharged engine that produces 317kW in standard trim followed by 331kW in the Competition model and 338kW in the CS variant. Just below the M3 we have the 340i with 240kW and the 335i with 225kW. The real sweet spot throughout the extensive engine range is the 320i and 320d models. With the petrol powered, turbocharged 320i, you get 135kW to play with while the turbodiesel 320d offers 135kW and exceptional fuel economy. The ActiveHybrid3 derivative was also offered by dealers, the 3-Series’ first foray into the hybrid game.
Depending on the engine options you choose, the F30 was also offered with an option of an 8-speed automatic or a 6-speed manual, but manual variants are scarce.
- The Handling
The 3-Series has always been lauded for its handling which is more sports focused than the model’s competitors from Audi and Mercedes-Benz. With the F30 however BMW had another trick up their sleeve, they made it 40kg lighter and the chassis was stiffer than the outgoing model. Couple that with modern independent suspension and every driver aid known to man, and you have a car which is spot handling wise with a little bit of “tail happiness” to make the drive more exciting.
- The Price
Pricing for F30’s is quite wide depending on which model and trim spec you choose with early 316i models starting from R109,000. If you go looking for an M3 however, then price start from R600,000 and climb to R2 million if you want a M3 CS.
That is why, once again I must mention the 320i models, the ideal middle ground. Pricing for early 320i models start at around R190,000 but if you keep looking and stretch you budget, you can find newer M-Sport cars going for around R240,000.
As mentioned at the beginning the article, the beauty of the F30 lies in the fact that it is a brilliant middle-ground in the 3-Series range, not old enough to be an old BMW and price right compared to the latest models. This makes the F30 the ideal model for buyers who are looking for good, reliable and comfortable car which is loaded with modern comforts, street cred and a sensible price tag.
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