The BMW 3-series has long been a legend in the luxury sports car market. It made Car & Drivers 10 Best list for 22 years straight – from 1992 to 2014 – making it the longest-running entry. However, that reign ended shortly after the release of the F30 and the 3-series has yet to make the list again. It’s hard to be at the top for so long, and losing the spot doesn’t mean the F30 or G20 are bad cars.
BMW’s legendary 3-series still delivers a great balance of performance, handling, and driving experience. How do these newer F30 and G20 chassis’ stack up against each other, though? Which one is the better purchase for you? In this article, we compare BMW F30 vs G20 specs, engines, performance, handling, price, and more.
BMW F30 vs G20 Specs
Specs for the BMW F30 and G20 chassis are as follows:
|134 – 322 HP
|154 – 382 HP
|160 – 330 lb-ft
|184 – 369 lb-ft
|~3,050 – 3,900 lbs
|~3,190 – 4,330 lbs
BMW’s G20 chassis marks the 7th generation of the BMW 3-series and is the newest generation with it’s introduction in model year 2019. However, in the US, the 6th gen F30 lasted from 2012-2019 and the G20 didn’t take over until model year 2020.
Sticking with the trend of 3-series since its introduction each new generation continues to grow larger. The BMW G20 is about 2-3″ longer than the F30, has a longer wheelbase, and is wider by just over half an inch. Despite the extra size and the curb weight appearing higher the G20 is actually the lighter BMW.
Exact weight varies greatly depending on the specific model, options, and lots more. Model for model and option for option the G20 is lighter by about 100 lbs., though. The same applies to horsepower and torque. The F30 340i with its 3.0L B58 engine makes 322 horsepower. Significantly more than the G20 318i with its 154hp 2.0L B48. The G20 340i is only available as the M340i model, which delivers 382 horsepower. Model for model the G20 chassis delivers more power and torque.
BMW F30 vs G20 Engines
Getting into specific engines and models is where things could get lengthy. As such, we’ll focus on some specific models and the most common engine options. Both the F30 vs G20 offer similar models like the 318i, 320i, 330i, 340i, and the hybrid 330e.
However, the F30 chassis is also available with the 328i and 335i models. The 328i and 335i are the equivalent models to the 330i and 340i, respectively. When BMW moved from the N-series engines to the B-series engines they also changed the badging.
Ultimately, the F30 and G20 both offer lots of different models and engine options to meet the needs of a wide range of buyers. In the next few sections, we’ll focus on the common models and engines.
BMW N20 & N55 (F30 Chassis)
The N20 2.0 inline-4 and N55 3.0 inline-6 turbocharged engines were the most popular F30 engines from 2012-2015. In 2016, these engines were replaced by the B48 and B58 engines with the same displacement. This is when BMW also changed the badging to 30i and 40i.
BMW N20 engines are found in the 320i and 328i models with 181hp and 241hp, respectively. The N20 delivers decent reliability. It’s an improvement over the larger N55 engine which was designed a couple years prior to the N20 (the N55 was also used in the older E90 3-series).
N55 engines are found in the F30 335i with 300hp and 300 lb-ft of torque. They’re capable engines that can make 400+whp with some simple bolt-on upgrades and tuning. The N55 is known to be problematic and fairly expensive to own and maintain, though. For more info on the N20 and N55 check out the below common problem/reliability articles.
B48 and B58 Engines (F30 + G20 Chassis)
BMW 2.0L B48 and 3.0L B58 engines are found in both the F30 and G20 3-series. These engines took over in 2016 and currently remain the two most popular BMW engines in not only the 3-series, but also the entire BMW lineup.
There were some updates to both the B48 and B58 around the time the G20 chassis was introduced. They’re virtually the same engine in the F30 vs G20. However, some technical updates and improvements help the engines in the G20 deliver a bit of extra power and torque.
The most extreme example is the 340i F30 vs M340i G20. Both use the same B58 engine designation, but the updates to the B58 in the M340i allow it to deliver 382 horsepower. That’s an increase of 60 horsepower vs the older B58 engine design in the F30 340i.
As a final note – the B48 and B58 engines were great reliability improvements over the older N-series engines. We’ll circle back to F30 vs G20 reliability in a few more sections. We also have a BMW B58 reliability article if you want to learn more about the 3.0 inline-6 engine.
F30 vs G20 3-Series – Which is Better?
With a little background info out of the way let’s jump into a more direct comparison of the F30 vs G20 3-series. Given they’re only 1 generation removed they both deliver similar results. It’s not as drastic a change as going from something like an E36 to an F30 or an E46 to a G20. However, there are some minor differences that drivers may perceive more or less than others.
It’s also important to note – there isn’t a perfect answer as to whether the BMW F30 or G20 is better. This is an opinion that comes down to personal preference. Some people may consider looks the most important factor and that’s subjective. Others may believe the G20 is the better car but choose the F30 based on price and value.
Our goal is to primarily stick with the facts of the F30 vs G20 comparison. However, it’s impossible to paint the full picture without including a few opinions. If you’re really torn on the F30 or G20 3-series then test driving both is likely the best way to make a decision. Anyway, let’s jump in and compare these two BMW 3-series.
3-Series Chassis and Handling
One important factor in handling is weight and weight distribution. Again, the G20 weighs in about 100-120 pounds lighter than the F30 when comparing similar models and options. Both cars maintain a roughly 50/50 weight distribution. However, the BMW G20 receives a 50% increase in body rigidity over the F30.
All this leads to better handling for the G20 3-series. Unfortunately, we couldn’t find a perfect apples to apples comparison but there are a few test results worth sharing. The 2016 340i xDrive was able to achieve a 0.94g skidpad compared to the 0.96g skidpad of the M340i. These results are both from Car & Driver testing, but the F30 was AWD while the G20 was a RWD model.
Car & Driver also has Lightning Lap Results for a number of cars from 2006 to 2022. There isn’t a direct comparison here, but once again there are a few results worth sharing:
- 2020 G20 M340i – 3:03.2
- 2022 G80 M3 xDrive – 2:53.5
- 2015 F82 M4 – 3:00.7
- 2012 E92 335i – 3:13.2
The G20 M340i is a mere 2.5 seconds behind the previous generation M4. That’s pretty darn impressive considering how big a gap the M3 usually has between a normal 3-series. That gap is shown in the current G80 M3 beating the M340i by nearly 10 seconds. Ultimately, the F30 340i would likely fall somewhere between the E92 335i and G20 M340i.
That said, both the F30 and G20 handle well. You likely won’t notice a huge difference for normal daily driving. Although, if you take the G20 vs F30 to a track or start pushing hard on some twisty roads, you’ll notice the lighter weight, stiffer body, and better handling of the G20.
F30 and G20 Driving Experience
Well, here’s the slight downside to both the F30 and G20. In the first paragraph we mentioned the 3-series made the 10 Best list 22 years straight. That reign ended in 2014 shortly after the introduction of the F30. Part of that is because other manufacturers used the 3-series as a benchmark and began catching up. Another important factor was BMW’s move to electric power steering.
It’s no secret the F30 was bombarded with complaints about steering feel. Dull, vague, numb, boring, lack of feedback and response, etc. were all used endlessly to express the F30’s steering and driving experience. In our opinion, a lot of that is true.
Fortunately, the G20 steering feel is a sure improvement over the F30. That was an important focus for BMW given the number of complaints about the F30’s steering. It still isn’t on the same level as some other manufacturers electric power steering, though. We also believe the G20’s steering feel is still inferior to the older 3-series like the E46 or E90.
Hop into an older E46 or E90 with hydraulic power steering. There’s so much steering feedback. You can feel exactly what the chassis is doing, you can feel the amount of grip, and it’s very confidence inspiring. It’s hard to explain in words but sadly neither the F30 nor G20 offer the same visceral feel and driving experience.
Winner: G20 (still a bit lacking compared to older 3-series generations)
BMW F30 vs G20 Performance
Model for model, performance follows a similar trend in the F30 vs G20 comparison. The G20 has the edge in performance primarily thanks to lower weight and more power & torque. We’ll compare a few results for the F30 340i and G20 M340i again. Keep in mind – the gap between these cars is larger than the gap between cars like the 330i. The G20 M340i has 60 horsepower more than the F30 340i whereas most other models have a smaller difference of roughly 5-20 horsepower.
- G20 M340i 0-60mph: 3.8 seconds
- F30 340i 0-60mph: 4.8 seconds
- G20 M340i 1/4 mile: 12.3 @ 115mph
- F30 340i 1/4 mile: 13.3 @ 106mph
The difference between the F30 and G20 straight line acceleration is pretty staggering. The M340i bests the 340i by a full second to 60mph. It holds that 1 second advantage thru the 1/4 mile and passes the mark at 115mph – 9 miles per hour faster than the F30.
Models like the F30 330i vs G20 330i are only separated by a few tenths of a second. Still, the G20 has the edge in performance and no model shows that more than the M340i. It shows improvements to the G20 go deeper than just more power.
Otherwise, the F30 and G20 are both very tune-able and mod-friendly. The advantage goes to the B58tu in the M340i. This engine can pretty easily achieve 500whp with just a tune, basic bolt-ons, and small E85 blends. The N55, B48, and original B58 in the F30 340i are also very capable with these same mods.
F30 vs G20 Reliability
We touched on BMW F30 vs G20 reliability briefly when discussing engine options. Again, we have tons of common problems and reliability guides for a large variety of BMW engines. Be sure to check those out if you want to learn more about reliability.
Anyway, the G20 is still a pretty new chassis so only time will tell if they hold up well in the longer-term. However, the G20 uses the B48 and B58 engines. They’re very reliable engines and great improvements over the older N-series engines. Toyota even uses these engines in their A90 Supra’s. These are really good engines that we believe earn above average remarks for reliability.
2016+ F30 models also use the BMW B48 and B58 engines, so they deliver very similar reliability to the G20. The older N-series engines (especially the N55) are known to be much more problematic. If you’re after a reliable car then we’d recommend sticking with the B-series engines in the F30 or G20.
Winner: G20 or F30 with B48/B58
BMW F30 vs G20 Price
Spoiler – we’re finally moving onto a category where the F30 gets a clear cut win. The 3-series generally depreciates pretty quickly after 3-4 years. Per Car Edge, the 3-series residual value is 89%, 72%, and 63% after 3, 4, and 5 years, respectively. At the time of writing, G20’s are 0-3 years old meaning they’re just now starting to reach the peak of their depreciation.
Right now probably isn’t the best time to buy a 2019 or 2020 G20 since you’ll get hit with the bulk of the depreciation in the coming years. On the other hand, most F30’s have already experienced their worst years of depreciation. That means the F30 can provide exceptional value. Then again, most G20’s will still have some time left on factory warranty.
You’ll be hard pressed to find a G20 M340i for less than $45,000 except for those with high-mileage, no remaining warranty, and/or a negative history. On the other hand, you can find a clean 2016-2018 340i for about $30,000-35,000. A similar budget of $27,000-32,000 will get you into a 2019-2021 G20 330i. Going with an older F30 like the 335i will only set you back about $15,000-22,000.
It would take too much space to provide prices for every year and model of the BMW F30 vs G20. Prices can also vary depending on location and availability (we’re also in a crazy time for used car prices). Keep an eye open in your local market based on your budget. Nonetheless, the point remains. The F30 is the less expensive car and may be the better value proposition.
G20 vs F30 Interior, Exterior, Features, & More
It’s not a true comparison without at least briefly touching on these topics. However, we’ll be quick since this is all subjective and comes down to personal preference. A quick search will yield plenty of results and obvious differences between F30 vs G20 design.
I personally prefer the look of the F30 exterior but I’d choose the G20 interior over the F30. Others might feel the exact opposite way, and there isn’t any right or wrong answer. Either way, they’re both sporty looking cars with moderately luxurious interiors.
BMW G20’s do have newer technology and slightly different options. However, it would take too much time to jump into all the specifics. Additionally, this depends heavily on the year, model, and specific options/upgrades on the BMW.
Winner: Tie (subjective)
BMW F30 vs G20 3-Series Summary
The BMW F30 and G20 are the two newest generations of the 3-series. Both are great cars that deliver a good balance of performance, comfort, fuel economy, and more. Given the G20 is the successor to the F30 they are similar in a number of ways. However, there are some notable differences between these 3-series.
BMW F30 models offer a wide range of engine options from the older N20 and N55 to the newer B48 and B58. The BMW G20 3-series only uses the B48 and B58 engines, but that’s not a bad thing. We’re big fans of the B-series engines and they deliver excellent performance and reliability. If you’re looking for the most reliable 3-series then we recommend sticking with the B48 or B58 in either the F30 or G20.
Otherwise, the G20 delivers better performance and handling compared to the F30. The chassis is more rigid and the G20 weighs about 100 pounds less. Updates to the B48 and B58 engines in the G20 also deliver more power. The most notable example is the G20 M340i vs F30 340i. The G20 beats the F30 by a full second to 60mph and holds that advantage thru the 1/4 mile where it’s 9mph faster.
Driving experience and steering feel are where the F30 and G20 are both a bit lackluster. The change to electric power steering hasn’t been great for BMW. A G20 does offer more feedback and feels like an improvement over the F30, but it still lacks behind the older 3-series generations.
Despite the numerous cases for the G20 being the better car the F30 does offer better value. That’s where the F30 makes a case for potentially being the better bang-for-your-buck purchase. Regardless of which you choose, the G20 and F30 can both be excellent cars that are truly enjoyable to drive.