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BMW 330d/335d F30: Buying guide and review (2013-present)

BMW 330d/335d F30: Buying guide and review (2013-present) Classic and Performance Car
BMW 330D BMW 330D BMW 330D BMW 330D
Ever since the original appeared in the late-’90s, the 330d and its 335d big brother have been the acceptable face of oil-burning. With the current F30 generation, BMW has taken the now-familiar formula to a new level: superb performance, brilliant economy, outstanding handling. And, in Touring form, very practical, too. This may not be every car you’ll ever want, but it’s close to being the only car you’ll ever need. As a used buy, it’s also very decent value for money. All too good to be true? We’re about to find out…

Which one to buy?

The first F30s appeared in early 2012, the 330d M Sport arriving a year later. With a 3-litre single-turbo straight-six developing 254bhp and 413lb ft, it was a seriously muscular machine, capable of 0-62mph in 5.6sec (top speed is limited to 155mph) but also up to 50mpg at a motorway cruise. 
The gearbox is the highly regarded ZF eight-speed auto with paddles for self-shifting and switchable modes to match your mood, and there’s a choice of rear- or all-wheel drive. There’s also a choice of passive or optional adaptive dampers for the lowered and retuned suspension, while handsome 18in alloys (19in as an option) are on the long list of M goodies. Prices started at £36,610 for the saloon, but today you can pay as little as £18,000.
Then came the 335d with a twin-turbo version of the straight-six developing 309bhp and a mighty 465lb ft from 1500rpm. Mated to xDrive (no rear-drive option here), the 0-62mph time was now 4.9sec but BMW could still claim 49.6mpg Combined. List price for the range-topping 335d M Sport Touring was £42,820, but many topped £50k with options such as adaptive suspension (£515), adaptive LED headlights (£850) and a head-up display (£825). Today an F30 335d could be yours for £23k.
In late-2015 (for MY2016) the range had a mid-life refresh, with a subtle facelift and, more importantly, changes to the chassis to improve steering feel, one of the few areas of criticism.
For many, the 330d is the smart buy – in most conditions it’s more agile, more economical and has fewer things to go wrong – but the 335d xDrive is a real all-road, all-weather weapon. Specialist Birds can extract 380bhp from the 335d (312bhp from the 330d) and a monstrous 546lb ft. In the dry, Birds has seen 0-60mph in a truly remarkable 3.9sec. Boring diesels, eh?

Performance and specs

BMW 335d M Sport
Engine In-line six-cylinder, 2993cc, twin-turbo diesel
Power 309bhp @ 4400rpm 
Torque 465lb ft @ 1500-2500rpm
Transmission Eight-speed auto, rear-wheel drive (4WD)
0-62mph 4.9sec (claimed)
Top speed 155mph (limited)
Insurance group 36-38
Fuel consumption 49mpg (claimed combined)

Dimensions and weight

Wheelbase 2810mm
Length 4633mm
Width 1811mm
Height 1434mm
Weight 1590kg

Common problems

• Both engines are part of the N57 family of all-aluminium straight-six common-rail turbodiesels with variable-geometry turbochargers – a single turbo in the case of the 330d, twin turbos for the 335d. Both are fundamentally very robust units and very receptive to remapping, but some of the peripherals can give problems, particularly if the car is subject to a lot of town driving and short journeys. 
• These cars thrive on high mileages – 20k a year is ideal. BMW specialist Kevin Bird (birdsauto.com) says the DPF can need replacement as early as 40,000 miles if the car doesn’t get a regular high-speed blast. Cost: around £2000. The plumbing for the turbo(s) also degrades over time, sometimes leading to leaks and hence poor running, and again short journeys and stop-start driving exacerbate problems. 
• A common failure is the EGR (exhaust gas recirculation) valve, which can go at any mileage. ‘The issue is by no means unique to these cars,’ says Kevin, ‘but it’s another potential bill – around £500 to fit a replacement.’ If the valve’s sticking, the engine will run roughly and misfire.
• Most cars will still have some of the original three-year manufacturer’s warranty remaining. When that expires, you might want to consider a third-party warranty. The BMW-backed Mondial scheme, available for any car with a full BMW history and under 60k miles, is highly regarded. Full coverage costs up to £100 a month, but it can be tailored to cover specific components. Or, as Kevin says, just put a couple of grand in a contingency fund. 
• The ZF eight-speed automatic is one of the great modern transmissions and gives few problems. Some owners have reported issues with the mechatronic valve body, resulting in a jolt going from neutral into first and reverse, so check for smooth engagement, but Kevin doesn’t believe it’s a widespread problem. Incidentally, if you’re considering a remap, you might also consider a Quaife limited-slip differential conversion for the 335d xDrive (£1890 fitted).
• No major issues here, so simply listen out for any untoward knocks and creaks on the test drive. Birds offers a sports suspension conversion to replace either the passive or active setup (around £1800 fitted, plus £200 if the car has the adaptive dampers). However, the first thing any owner should consider, says Kevin, is replacing the runflat tyres. Birds recommends the Continental SportContact 6.
• Obviously there are no corrosion issues with these cars yet, but do check carefully for any signs of accident repairs, including uneven panel gaps, colour differences between panels, overspray, etc. These cars also have lots of toys, so take your time to make sure they all work – especially if the car is out of warranty! 

Owners clubs, forums and websites

• bmwcarclubgb.co.uk
• bimmerforums.co.uk
• f30.bimmerpost.com
• bmwenthusiasts.co.uk
• birdsauto.com
• munichlegends.co.uk
• bmw-warranty.co.uk

Summary and prices

Around £18k is the starting point for a 2013 330d M Sport. These will be high-milers, but 20k miles a year is nothing for these cars. £20k gives you a choice of 2013/14 cars, including some in the dealer network still under warranty. The best 2013/14 330ds with the best options tend to be £20k-23k. £23k is also the current entry point for 335ds. If you can stretch to £26k you’ll have a wide choice of 2014/15 cars that would have cost £50k new.

Words: Peter Tomalin
BMW 330D BMW 330D BMW 330D BMW 330D
Last updated: 4th Nov 2016
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