BMW 3 Series F30, the official chariot for entry-level rich. BMW 3 Series F30, a smaller BMW 5 Series F10. BMW 3 Series F30, a one trick pony. Or a one trick car, mind you.
Why am I so rude about the BMW 3 Series F30?
Because the BMW 3 Series was and is the best-selling car of the brand and the most popular model has always been the 320d. And the BMW 3 Series F30 continues the tradition, the 320d model being absolutely decent, while the other engines are a real mess where you don’t know what to buy. That says something about the BMW 3 Series F30 320d, which is a decent car, decently reliable and decently economical. It could be all the car you would ever need. It’s just that even there you have to be careful what options you tick. For example I saw a 320d that cost 60,000 euros, and given that a BMW 6 Series Gran Turismo starts at 60,987 euros, you’d have to eat alot of glue in order to buy the 320d.
But how does the BMW 3 Series F30 behave on the used market instead?
Admirably. Unlike the previous generation E90 where there were few but intense issues, here are many but small issues. Plus the BMW 3 Series F30 has gone up so much in interior quality and options that it feels like a smaller 5 Series, and for some this is perfect. Especially since the 320d is much more dynamic than the 520d so you have an even faster and more fuel efficient car. However, the BMW 3 Series F30 also feels like a serious and full of technology car. The fun of the legendary BMW E46 318i is gone, the dynamics of the E90 are gone. No, the F30 is a mature car for serious people. Usually managers of the corporate world or small business owners, these are the customers who still buy the BMW 3 Series F30. Because the sedan is an old-fashioned concept in 2019 anyway that should hurry up and retire already.
BMW 3 Series F30 Engines
- 316i of 134 horsepower – A dubious 1.6 petrol, this “Little Prince” is no other than the engine built by Peugeot, used by BMW and which destroyed Mini’s reputation. The N13 abortion has serious problems with the timing chain that jumps around more than the plastic off the boobs and butt of an woman of dubious morales from an even more dubious club while it breaks it’s back on the table after putting 2 liters of vodka and 5 lines of hard stuff.
- 314i of 134 horsepower – Coming in 2015 to eradicate the cancer called N13, the B38 engine is the first 3-cylinder engine ever put on the 3 Series. Fortunately, this engine on the BMW 3 Series F30 is the same as the 3-cylinder engine on the BMW i8. As a “issue” it suffers from the classic issue of modern BMWs.
- 320i of 181 horsepower – Until 2015 it was the same N13 only in stretched up to 2 liters. If you have a bizarre fetish to throw money at your mechanic, this engine is great for you. From 2015 onwards came the B48, which is the 4-cylinder version of the B38 and which is much more reliable than the engine that you could say about it that it was assembled during a coffee break by some mechanics who threw the parts from far away on a basketball court and where the parts fell, that was it. Pay attention instead to the B48 to the twin-scroll turbo that does not have a very solid reputation.
- 328i 241 horsepower – Same N20 modified to 241 horsepower. No, the engine is not 2.8, it’s also a 2.0. Retired in 2015 by the 330i. Next.
- 330i of 248 horsepower – The same B48 stretched out to 248 horses. This engine is already an legend in the world of tuning because of it’s huge potential, even bigger than Salma Hayek’s huge potentials. Also, you do not get a 3 liter engine but a 2 liter one. But in life it’s good to look bigger and stronger than you are, atleast the motto of most BMW drivers.
- 335i of 302 horsepower – Finally we arrive at the first 6-cylinder powerplant, which was unfortunately retired in 2015. We also talked in the article about the E90 about this engine, the N55 being largely unchanged. Problems with high pressure pump, VANOS and water pump. However, these are insignificant details, when you have a 302 horsepower BMW 3 Series F30.
- 340i of 322 horsepower – Same situation as above, in 2015 the old N55 335i is replaced by the B48B30 340i. Also a 3 liter gasoline, not 4 liters, in good BMW marketing fashion.
- 316d of 114 horsepower – In the 2011 – 2015 period the horrible N47 was employed, however from 2015 it was replaced by the modern B47. I will talk about these two engines in the general problems section, what can I tell you here is that it is certain that you want the B47s and you want a bigger engine than this.
- 318d of 141 and 148 horsepower – The same N47 replaced in 2015 by B47. You have almost reached the most balanced and important engine for the BMW 3 Series F30.
- 320d of 181 and 188 horsepower – Here is the central party piece for the BMW 3 Series F30, the most famous of the BMW children comes with 188 horsepower in the form of the B47 and with low fuel consumption. It’s as if when you pay 39,000 euros for a BMW you care about fuel consumption. Still, it remains an engine driven to the limits of technology and most probably BMW’s last diesel engine.
- 325d of 215 and 221 horsepower – The final step for the 2-liter B47 and N47, this engine is more tormented than a student determined to score maximum in all possible exams in hopes of catching a teacher job until he finds out that all the good jobs are handed out only to those who now the right people, can pay the right people with the right ammount, or both.
- 330d of 255 horsepower – The first and only 6-cylinder diesel on the BMW 3 Series F30 comes in the form of the N57 and suffers from the same problem as the N47. In this form it is somewhat reliable in the sense that it has fewer serious problems. You don’t have cancer, gonorrhea, syphilis, AIDS and basedow. You only have gonorrhea and syphilis.
- 335d of 308 horsepower – An N57 that received a technical upgrade and 50 horsepower. Now you have more power to get to the workshop faster.
- ActiveHybrid3 of 335 horsepower – Essentially a 330i with an electric motor, which comes with the same problems of the classic engine plus the problems of the electric system. Retired in 2015 by the 330e.
- 330e of 248 horsepower – A B48 320i that comes with the reliability of the classic engine but with the problems of the electrical system. The hybrid model was permanently retired in 2018 due to far too many problems.
BMW 3 Series F30 General Issues
- Diesel engines codenamed N47 suffer from the classic timing chain tensioners issues. Normally, it would not be a problem to change them, only that the German engineers in their vast intelligence considered that they are more durable than 50 Cent and will never have to be changed, so they put the timing chain behind the engine. In other words, to change the chain and / or tensioners, the entire engine will have to be removed as you cry and hum “Always look on the bright side of life!” whilst reading the repair invoice.
- The N20 on the 320i and 328i suffers from serious issues with injectors, clutch, dual-mass flywheel and needs the highest quality oil in order to function. In fact, all modern BMW engines need the highest quality oil, and to be changed every 8-10,000 km or even earlier to keep the engine running. These engines are built to the limit and have a small margin of error. If you follow the oil change regime and use only what is recommended by the manufacturer, you have an excellent and reliable engine. If not, problems like fall over you like gravel falls off an shovel. The post-2015 engines B47 and B38 / B48 engines are especially vulnerable.
- Many reported cases of manual gearbox failures. The automatic is decent as long as the oil is changed on time, but the manual gearbox often does not cope with the engine power. The problem noticed especially in 335i where the manual gearbox does not cope with the torque and will eventually crack. Not a smile, but your wallet.
- For 4-cylinder engines up to 2013, you need special attention sent towards the power brakes. Mainly because you can rely on them at any time except when you need them. BMW had a recall on this, so it’s important to ask what the fashion says about the power brakes on that particular BMW 3 Series F30.
- The condenser is located very low and can take stones head on if you dare to go on something other than the perfect asphalt of British B-Roads. Well, at least we are in UK where there is no unpaved road because we are one continuous B-Road. The problem seems to be common with the 5 Series F10 but it extends to the 3 Series aswell. And as we are still talking about impeccable roads, be very careful on water puddles because the front mounted cammera can be affected. The BMW 3 Series F30 really is an asphalt princess.
- The thermostat and the water pump are two other parts that break down more often than you would like. Being very sensitive engines, these two parts must be replaced at the slighest cough of fatigue.
- The horn, or better said the horns, are another pair of fine chaps that tend to run away in the woods. It is important to check that the sound of the horn wakes up the dead and it’s not as if some asthmatic would be blowing air through a vent. If we are here talking about small but annoying things anyway, the trigger of the bonnet may remain locked and the bonnet can no longer be opened. But you have a BMW 3 Series F30, it’s not your problem that the bonnet doesn’t open, it’s the mechanic’s problem. It’s not like you are capable of physical labor.
- Alarmingly, the special BMW alarm system that was mounted up to 2016 on the BMW 3 Series F30 came with its own deactivation code. Make sure that when you buy the car you also have the alarm code. And since we are still on the electrical side, be sure to check that absolutely any button and function works.
- Diesel engines are more sensitive to short trips than HR is sensitive to construction site level jokes. All diesel engines must be driven only out in the wild, over long distances, otherwise you will have more serious problems than Mandy Hayes, professional UK clarvoyant, when she tried to read my mind.
BMW 3 Series F30 Verdict
If the 5 Series is too big for you, then the BMW 3 Series F30 is pretty much 5 Series Light. A serious car for serious people, a car that went under the radar of thick-necked, gold-chain-wearing track-suit-enthusiasts gentlemen. Yes, you might panic about how many issues you read there, but, as I said in the opening, BMW played all the cards on one engine. I don’t even know why they came up with other options.
Which engines do I recommend? The BMW 3 Series F30 320d with an automatic transmission is one of the most brilliant and balanced compact sedans today. And if you catch the B47s after 2015, then you may have bought all the car you will ever need.