BMW 3 Series (330i) vs. Tesla Model 3 Review & Compare ― Which Drives Better?

Series used to be praised by critics like myself as
the best driving and thus most desirable luxury
sports sedan you could buy. Things have changed though. It’s gotten bigger and
heavier and more insulated. And now there are upstarts
like the Tesla Model 3. These two particular cars
are pretty different, so a direct comparison
doesn’t really play here. But think about how these
two cars are similar. They’re about the same money. They’re about the same size. They have about the same power. Now, you can go
on and on debating the merits of each vehicle’s
respective propulsion systems– whether you like the familiarity
and infrastructure that comes with an internal
combustion engine or whether your lifestyle
and commute permits an EV. We’re not really
concerned with that. What we care about in
this video is the thing that these vehicles have to
do best, and that’s driving, of course. Which one drives better? [MUSIC PLAYING] Here we are in the
new BMW 3 Series. It’s a 330i. I’ve dialed it up to
sport mode because we’re going to be driving
in a sporty manner. The 3 Series, at least
the last generation, wasn’t as successful,
in terms of driving engagement and performance,
as we would have liked it. BMW has heard our complaints,
and driving dynamics was a focus of this new
generation of the car. Now, when it comes to overall
feel and how this drives, this is representing the
classical sense of driving. We have, of course, an
internal combustion engine. We have a transmission–
one with eight speeds. We have that characteristic. You role on the accelerator. You roll on the gas. We can call it a gas pedal. And the engine races towards red
line– it’s either 6 or 7,000 RPM. This digital gauge
cluster isn’t very clear. And when you’re doing that,
you can feel the character of the power band change. There’s a sound. There’s a bunch of sounds. There’s a sensation
as power grows. And I think we’ll find as
when we get in the Tesla, it’s very different–
and for obvious reasons. Now, the character of
this particular two liter, four cylinder, it’s fine. We’ve got about 255 horsepower–
about 300 pound feet of torque. That’s a solid amount
in this day and age for your average sedan. But is it an exciting package? I’d say the engine
responds welcomingly. It’s nice. The delivery is there. The power from the turbocharger,
the way it comes on, feels generally pleasant. I’ll say the sound– not as good as the
old six-cylinder BMWs used to sound. I used to have an E36 with
the straight six cylinder. That thing sounded
wonderful even if it was nowhere near as potent
as these modern turbocharged four cylinders. The eight-speed transmission–
I’ve set it to sport– and it’s doing a pretty
admirable job of choosing gears for fast driving. I’m not going for
a lap time here, but I am trying to explore
the vehicle’s limits. Now, ride and handling– this does not have
adaptive dampers. And it is set up rather firm. That’s to help give it some
performance feel when tackling through some of these corners. I’m not sure if it’s worth it. The ride is somewhat
less luxurious than– let’s say– than I’d
expect for a commuter. And I think that’s
due to the fact that we’re on 19 inch wheels– performance-oriented
run-flat tires. There’s a lot of
stiffness there that we’re going to deal with when
it comes to comfort. I think one of the downsides
of the constant improvement of technology is how insulated
these interiors have become where the feel of everything has
to be simulated instead of just being organic. But you do lose a
bit of the charm that comes with hydraulic
steering– that comes with a throttle
cable and so on. These are things that
have long since died out. So do these simulations capture
the charm of those things? They do an OK job. I think this car,
generally, overall– I’m going to say feels
bigger than it should– if you’re looking for a
compact luxury sports sedan. But it does drive,
generally, pretty well. Let’s also talk about breaking. This does have the upgraded
sport brakes, as BMW calls it. And they’re generally good– good feedback, good
pedal modulation. You know how much performance
you have available just from resting your foot on them. And, overall, as a
sports sedan, does it rekindle the magic of
what 3 Series used to be– how those cars use to drive? I don’t think so. But I also think
that’s impossible because cars today are different
than what they used to be. They’re saddled with so
many additional requirements that you inevitably lose
some of the charm and magic that cars used to have. Considering all that,
this is fairly solid. And I think somebody looking
at buying a traditional luxury sport compact would
enjoy this purchase. But what I’m really
curious to find out is how the Tesla will feel. [MUSIC PLAYING] Here we go in the Tesla Model 3. There’s no sports
setting to check outside of steering,
which I put in sport just to keep things even. And, already, this car
feels more powerful. It is slightly more powerful
because Tesla recently provided an over-the-air update,
which increased the power by 5%, which we’ve tested. But it’s not just that. It’s the method
of power delivery. If you have been following
EV news recently, you know how this
works, and we’re not going to rehash all
the talking points. But, basically, what happens
is with an internal combustion engine, when you
apply the gas, you have to wait for the
transmission to downshift– if you haven’t done it already. Then you have to wait for
the turbocharger to spool up. Then you have to wait for the
engine to start accelerating. And this all happens generally
quick with modern cars but nowhere as quick as
what happens when you hit the accelerator in an EV. The power delivery is
just instantaneous. All the torque gets delivered
as soon as the electric motor starts turning. And because it
happens so quick here, the response of acceleration
makes this feel more powerful. On top of that, this
is a heavier car. But where all that
mass is located is primarily in the
batteries, which are underneath the flooring. But there’s run-on
benefits to that– that effect handling,
which makes this car feel a little bit more nimble,
a little bit more lift, and a little bit more enjoyable. But, also, the hood
line seems lower. The doors seem a
little bit lower, too. Maybe the seat sits higher, but
I feel like the car is smaller, overall. I don’t think it is. But the sensation
is what matters, not what the specs say– at least when it
comes to driving. And because of that,
you get that combination of early power. And you get that
combination of the handling from where the majority of the
mass of this car is located. And you arrive at a
car that is really fun to drive when you’re going
quick or when you’re commuting. Now, there are shortcomings
to this package. And you’ve probably been hearing
them as I’ve been driving. The tires are squealing. This does not have as aggressive
as a wheel and tire package as that 3 Series does. And you notice it. This thing is not going to
put the same G numbers down. It’s not going to break
with the same capability because it doesn’t
have that option on it. Tesla offers it. This car just doesn’t have it. But aside from that, the way the
car gets positioned around it– when you turn the wheel– feels better. It doesn’t have
the same smoothness with stability control. I can’t put the
stability control in an intermediary setting
like I can on the BMW– or if I can, I
haven’t figured out how to do it the menu yet–
so calm down, Tesla fanboys. But aside from
that, I gotta say, I’m enjoying driving this more. And coming to this
comparison, I was not expecting that to
be the outcome. We have to give
criticism where it’s due. And in the Tesla, that
falls on the interior. This interior doesn’t
have the level of assembly in terms of quality
or the level of materials quality that you
get in that BMW. You’re paying for the technology
that underpins this car, not for the interior,
so I get that. But you will notice it when you
sit in these cars back to back. The way the power comes on–
it’s just so addicting with this thing– that you just want to keep
doing it because it’s so quick, and because it’s so much. It really feels fun. But I think we’re getting
up to the edge of what these brakes were designed for. They’re getting a
little soft– much like they did in the 3 Series. I’m genuinely surprised. This is more enjoyable
to drive than a 3 Series. I’m shocked. I’m shocked– sorry, BMW. [MUSIC PLAYING] We thought this was going
to be a lopsided pairing, but we didn’t realize
in which direction. This BMW 3 Series
isn’t just a newer car. It’s an entirely new
generation of the 3 Series. And on top of that, this one
had the optional sport and track handling packages that aim to
improve driving engagement. Meanwhile, this Tesla
Model 3 is 2 years old, has 20,000 miles
on it, and isn’t the sportiest configuration. And it was still way
more fun to drive. From the response
of the acceleration to the sense of agility provided
by its lower center of gravity, the Model 3 was
simply more engaging. Tesla’s even done a better
job with steering feel, which is amusing when
you think about all the fuss around its so-called
full self-driving capabilities. It’s funny because in a
strict fun-to-drive terms, the Tesla Model 3 beats
the new BMW 3 Series. [MUSIC PLAYING]