BMW is celebrating the heritage of the legendary 325is – affectionately known as the Gusheshe – by introducing 230 units of the limited-edition 330is Edition, which is also exclusive to the South African market!
Why does the 330is Edition exist? Well, BMW South Africa is not trying to replace the iconic 325is, of which it produced two versions in Rosslyn during the early '90s. For those who don't know, the 2.7-litre straight-6-engined BMW 325is was the ultimate iteration of the E30-generation 3 Series Coupé that was built in South Africa (although another locally-built special model – the 3.2-litre straight-6 333i – had been introduced due to the unavailability of the original, left-hand-drive M3, a few years before that). The limited-run 330is Edition serves to express BMW's respect for the legacy of the Gusheshe 325is and to offer buyers a truly exclusive 3 Series derivative that's not available anywhere else – in the world.
Whereas the 333i was effectively South Africa's right-hand-drive substitute for the E30-generation M3, the 325is was bred for the racetrack. The principal reason why it came to be was that BMW needed to build 500 units of the Gusheshe to enter it in Stannic Group N production car racing, where the German brand’s cars were locked in a heated battle with Opel’s Kadett 2.0 GSi 16V “Big Boss” and 2.0 GSi 16V S “Superboss”.
Now, nearly 30 years later, manufacturers rarely develop bespoke models for the sheer purpose of gaining the upper hand in motorsport and, if they do, the cars are well beyond the reach of ordinary consumers. The 325is, by contrast, was based on the aspirational E30-generation 3 Series – if you were lucky, you could either see (or, even better, hear) one of these alloy-wheeled and be-spoilered Bimmers in the street or at car meetings.
Cars.co.za’s lifestyle and enthusiasts' brand SentiMETAL has two examples of the BMW 325is (the first example of the original version, known as the “EVO 1”, plus an EVO 2) in its curated fleet of iconic cars that were built and sold exclusively in South Africa and we’ve produced plenty of content (including Track Memories: BMW 325iS & Opel Kadett Superboss) and merchandise that celebrate the rich history of the Gusheshe.
The direct descendant of the revered 325is is technically the new BMW 4 Series Coupé, which was recently launched in South Africa, but the G20-generation 3 Series preceded its 2-door sibling and besides, BMW SA produced 5 generations of the sports executive sedan at its Rosslyn plant.
BMW SA’s homage to the 325is is the exclusive 330is Edition, but, unlike the Gusheshe that appeared 30 years ago, the newcomer is not based on the top-of-the-range 3 Series derivative. Instead, it is related to the middle-of-the-range 330i, which is powered by a BMW TwinPower Turbo 2.0-litre 4-cylinder petrol engine that produces 190 kW and 400 Nm and drives the sedan’s rear wheels via an 8-speed automatic transmission.
The Munich-based manufacturer claims that the 330is Edition can accelerate from a 0 to 100 kph in 5.8 seconds and go on to an electronically limited top speed of 250 kph. In terms of economy, BMW claims an average fuel consumption figure of 6.4 L/100 km for the newcomer, which works out to a theoretical range of 922 km from a full (59-litre) tank of fuel.
But the 330is Edition won’t easily be mistaken for a stock standard BMW G20-generation 3 Series… The newcomer’s exterior execution specifically emphasises the exclusive model’s sportiness and, as such, comes kitted out in an M Sport package (note the blacked-out double-kidney grille with matching trim surround, for example). The M Aerodynamic kit includes an M Performance -front splitter, -skirts in body colour and -boot spoiler.
To ensure that the 330is Edition has a purposeful stance, the M Sport Package lowers the sedan's ride height by 10 mm by virtue of the integral sport suspension. BMW has also fitted 20-inch M Performance wheels and M Performance exhaust tips that produce a more urgent exhaust note.
The M Sport brakes have 4-piston fixed callipers at the front and single-piston floating callipers at the rear, in blue with the M designation and features large brake discs to ensure outstanding stopping power.
The 330is Edition’s Adaptive M suspension, meanwhile, can be electronically adjusted by the driver to suit various driving and road conditions. The suspension characteristics can also be adjusted via the Driving Experience Control to suit an individual's driving style (from Comfort to Sport).
The newcomer's variable sport steering creates direct and agile steering responses in circumstances when dynamic handling is required. This is complemented by the Steptronic Sport transmission, which allows the driver to actuate manual gear shifts via the 330is Edition’s steering-wheel-mounted shift paddles or the transmission lever.
The BMW Individual high-gloss Shadow Line (inspired by the BMW 325i Shadow Line that was introduced in the late Eighties and paved the way for the arrival of the 325is in subsequent years) extends from the black grille and side-window trim to the sedan’s darkened headlights. Each BMW 330is Edition also carries an authentic boot-lid badge that’s unique to the vehicle.
To spark nostalgia, the 330is Edition is available in a choice of colours – from classic Glacier Silver, striking Melbourne Red and timeless Alpine White (which is shown here) to the sophisticated Black Sapphire.
For such an expressive newcomer to BMW’s model line-up, the 330is Edition would not be complete without sporty interior accoutrements that add a distinct sense of occasion – and theatre – to the driving experience.
From the ornate door sills that bear the 330is insignia (on both the driver and front passenger’s side) to the similarly-branded interior trim finisher, the 330is Edition’s interior execution is indeed exclusive.
The cabin is trimmed in classic Black “Vernasca” leather with decorative stitching and is specified with M seat belts, an M leather-trimmed sports steering wheel, ambient interior lighting and an anthracite roof lining.
The sport seats for the driver and front passenger provide the additional lumbar support with their raised side bolsters and extra adjustability.
The 330is Edition comes standard with features such BMW Live Cockpit Professional, Connected Package Professional, Comfort telephony with wireless charging, Gesture Control, as well as Park Assist. However, to further enhance the purchasing proposition, BMW SA has added a glass sliding sunroof and a Harman Kardon Surround Sound system to the package.
BMW 330is Edition price in South Africa (November 2020)
The special edition BMW 330is Edition costs R899 999, which includes a 2-year/unlimited kilometres warranty and a 5-year/100 000 km maintenance plan. Services are determined by an onboard indicator.