April 11, 2021

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2021 BMW 3-Series

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What kind of vehicle is the 2021 BMW 3-Series? What does it compare to?

The 2021 BMW 3-Series is a compact sedan with a decidedly sporty personality. It squares off against the Mercedes-Benz C-Class, Volvo S60, and Audi A4, among others. 

Is the 2021 BMW 3-Series a good car/SUV?

Review continues below

In its latest edition, the 3-Series has regained a lot of the magic that once made it an easy favorite. We give it a TCC Rating of 7.7 out of 10. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

What’s new for the 2021 BMW 3-Series?

Last reworked for 2019, the 3-Series gains two bookends to its lineup this year. At the efficiency end of things, a new plug-in hybrid 330e with a 288-horsepower turbo-4 and an electric battery pack that team up for 22 miles of gas-free driving on a full charge. At the top of the performance ladder, there’s a wildly-styled M3 that comes with an enthusiast-pleasing 6-speed manual transmission option.

Otherwise, the lineup sees newly standard lane-departure warnings and some minor trim package revisions.

The 3-Series comes only as a sedan, though it is closely related to the 4-Series coupe and convertible.

The base 330i is plenty of sedan for most drivers. Its 255-hp 2.0-liter turbo-4 can send power rearward or to all four corners in xDrive versions. This year’s new 330e should be a little quicker than the base 330i, making its $3,300 premium easier to swallow.

From there, the lineup goes into M territory—sports sedan drivers know that letter stands for Motorsport, not Mediocrity. The M340i puts 382 hp to the ground, while the ferocious M3 offers as much as 503 hp. An 8-speed automatic is standard fare except in the M3, which can be had with a proper manual. 

Most versions of the 3-Series break little ground when it comes to styling with their conservative three-box bodies and relatively limited adornments. BMW saves all its penwork for the bonkers M3, a bucktoothed beast that is definitely not to every taste. 

Inside, all versions of the 3-Series are far more restrained and offer good comfort for passengers as well as plenty of technology including Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility through an 8.8-inch touchscreen. Automatic emergency braking is standard, though adaptive cruise control and fatigue-reducing driver assist features can be pricey options. 

At least the 3-Series has aced crash tests performed so far. 

How much does the 2021 BMW 3-Series cost?

BMW wants around $42,500 for the least-costly 330i, and options ranging from paint colors other than white, leather upholstery, and various convenience features can inflate that substantially.

There’s not a bad pick in this lineup, but our tastes run toward either a restrained 330i (or a 330e if you do the math and find its electric range suits your commute) or the bonkers M3 (if you can take its styling). 

Where is the 2021 BMW 3-Series made?

In Mexico and Germany.

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