• (4.8) 32 reviews
  • MSRP: $1,986–$10,474
  • Body Style: Sedan
  • Combined MPG: 24-25
  • Engine: 225-hp, 3.0-liter I-6 (premium)
  • Drivetrain: Rear-wheel Drive
  • Transmission: 5-speed automatic w/OD and auto-manual
2003 BMW 330

Our Take on the Latest Model 2003 BMW 330

2003 BMW 330 Reviews

Posted on 10/17/02
Vehicle Overview
Entry-level BMW shoppers who’d like a little more power than the 325 provides can still step up to the 330, which holds a larger six-cylinder engine. A front armrest and a headrest in the center rear seat are standard for the 2003 model year. A rain sensor with an automatic headlight control has been added to the Premium Package. BMW’s optional navigation system has been upgraded to DVD-based operation and can now be installed along with an in-dash CD player.

In addition to the four-door 330i, the lineup includes a 330Ci coupe and convertible. Unlike the 325, there is no wagon in the 330 Series. All versions have rear-wheel drive except the 330xi, which is equipped with all-wheel drive (AWD). AWD models include Dynamic Stability Control to help prevent skids.

Because of the company’s sporty image and its reputation for quality, 3 Series models have been popular among first-time luxury-car buyers. BMW’s most popular line competes against the Audi A4, Jaguar X-Type, Lexus IS 300 and Mercedes-Benz C-Class.

The 330 sedans and coupes look alike at a glance, but they share no body panels. The coupe’s styling also serves the convertible model. BMW’s familiar look features four round headlamps and a twin-kidney grille, but the sedan’s front end is different.

The coupe and convertible are 176.7 inches long overall, while the sedan measures 176 inches in length. All 330 models have a 107.3-inch wheelbase. The windshields on the coupe and convertible are slanted 2 degrees more than the sedan’s windshield. Convertible models have a power folding top.

The 330 sedans hold five passengers, while the coupe and convertible are four-seaters. Space is ample up front with twin bucket seats, but passengers can’t stretch their legs in the backseat. A typical BMW dashboard has large, easy-to-read gauges. Simple stereo and climate control push-buttons are in easy reach.

Under the Hood
BMW’s 3.0-liter inline-six-cylinder engine cranks out 225 horsepower and teams with a five-speed-manual or five-speed-automatic transmission that has a provision for manual gear changes.

Side-impact and side curtain-type airbags for the front seats are standard. Rear-seat side-impact airbags are optional in the sedan. The front airbags deploy with less force in low-speed impacts. Antilock brakes and traction control are standard. BMW’s Dynamic Stability Control reduces engine power and applies the brakes to prevent skids.

Driving Impressions
Plenty of enthusiast drivers still consider BMW the standard by which other makes are judged. At a time when luxury amenities are promoted, BMW stresses the dynamic handling qualities of its automobiles. Athletic maneuvers are the norm in both ordinary and demanding driving.

Both 3 Series models promise spirited performance and crisp handling, but the 330 delivers greater exuberance than its 325 companion. But performance of the 325 will satisfy many owners. The 3.0-liter engine actually feels so strong that it almost has to be restrained a bit.

BMW’s manual gearshift is sheer joy to manipulate. The 330’s clutch behavior is performance oriented, so getting truly smooth takeoffs takes some practice.

Available AWD is a bonus for buyers in the Snow Belt because a rear-drive BMW can get finicky on slippery surfaces. The seats are firm and driver oriented, but getting in and out of this vehicle isn’t quite as easy as in some other cars.


Reported by Jim Flammang  for cars.com
From the cars.com 2003 Buying Guide

Consumer Reviews


Average based on 32 reviews

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This car is my baby!

by padjo1023 from Seattle, WA on October 1, 2017

I have a 4-door E46 330i ZHP (performance package). It is fun to drive, practical, and reliable. The only knock is BMWs truly are expensive to fix/maintain.

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4 Trims Available

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Wondering which configuration is right for you?
Our 2003 BMW 330 trim comparison will help you decide.

BMW 330 Articles

2003 BMW 330 Safety Ratings

Crash-Test Reports


There are currently 17 recalls for this car.

Safety defects and recalls are relatively common. Stay informed and know what to do ahead of time.

Safety defects and recalls explained

Service & Repair

Estimated Service & Repair cost: $5,000 per year.

Save on maintenance costs and do your own repairs.

Warranty Coverage

What you should get in your warranty can be confusing. Make sure you are informed.

Learn More About Warranties

Warranties Explained


Often called a basic warranty or new-vehicle warranty, a bumper-to-bumper policy covers components like air conditioning, audio systems, vehicle sensors, fuel systems and major electrical components. Most policies exclude regular maintenance like fluid top offs and oil changes, but a few brands have separate free-maintenance provisions, and those that do offer them is slowly rising. Bumper-to-bumper warranties typically expire faster than powertrain warranties.


Don't be misled a 10-year or 100,000-mile powertrain warranty doesn't promise a decade of free repairs for your car. It typically covers just the engine and transmission, along with any other moving parts that lead to the wheels, like the driveshaft and constant velocity joints. Some automakers also bundle seat belts and airbags into their powertrain warranties. With a few exceptions, powertrain warranties don't cover regular maintenance like engine tuneups and tire rotations.

Roadside Assistance

Some automakers include roadside assistance with their bumper-to-bumper or powertrain warranties, while others have separate policies. These programs cover anything from flat-tire changes and locksmith services to jump-starts and towing. Few reimburse incidental costs like motel rooms (if you have to wait for repairs).

Free Scheduled Maintenance

Some automakers include free scheduled maintenance for items such as oil changes, air filters and tire rotations. Some include consumables including brake pads and windshield wipers; others do not. They are typically for the first couple of years of ownership of a new car.

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