Difference Between BMW 330i and 330Ci

by William Zane

The BMW 330Ci is part of the E46 generation of the Bavarian company's popular 3 Series lineup. The E46 was preceded by the E36 and was later replaced by the even better performing and more competent E90 and E92 generation 3 Series. Produced from 1999 to 2006, the E46 generation is widely loved by BMW enthusiasts for both its styling and robust, high quality engineering. The 330Ci is one of the coupe versions that was offered in the E46 lineup.

Coupe Designation

For the coupe versions of the 3 Series that came before the E46 generation, BMW did not use any special letters in the models' badging, referring to two door versions of the cars like the 325i as coupes. That changed with the introduction of the coupe version of the E46 in 2001. The "C" in 330Ci refers to the fact that this is the two-door version of the 330i sedan. The biggest differentiating factor between the 330i and the 330Ci is the difference in the number of doors.


Like the 330i, the 330Ci is powered by a 2,979 cc M54 inline-6. This engine produces 225 horsepower and 214 foot-pounds of torque. All versions of the 330, including the 330i, 330Ci, 330Ci convertible and 330ix, were available with an upgraded package, called the ZHP Performance Package, that increased power to 235 horsepower and 222 foot-pounds of torque. Cars specified with this $3,900 package are the most desirable of the E46 3 Series.

Chassis and Interior

The 330Ci was built on the same chassis as the rest of the E46 3 Series lineup. Along with the extra power, the 330 models benefited from a more advanced version of BMW's DSC (Dynamic Stability Control). There were also slightly larger brake rotors. Cars equipped with the ZHP package received a different rear differential for better acceleration, an M-tuned suspension and larger, 18-inch wheels. The 330Ci uses the same interior as the 330i, and was offered with the same options.


Initially the 330Ci was offered with a five-speed manual or a GM five-speed, Steptronic automatic. Later models gained a six-speed in place of the five-speed. BMW's SMG gearbox was offered on the 2005 330Ci and 330i.

More Articles

article divider