The 3 Series is the core of the BMW brand and they’ve shipped over 15 million of these since the first generation was introduced. It has now been updated in terms of design, technology and performance. Unveiled at the 2018 Paris Motor Show, this is the seventh-generation, model code G20, the best German entry-level driver’s sedan – the new BMW 3 Series.
The first thing you’ll notice is how much it looks like the new 5 Series and that’s not a bad thing at all. It has the bigger, joined-at-the-centre kidney grilles flanked by new LED headlights that extend around the curve of the hood. Same goes for the slimmer, elongated L-shaped 3D tail lamps. The body of the new 3 Series has a lot of lines and angles to accentuate the sporty nature of this premium sedan and it has grown in size as well. It is now 85mm longer, 16mm wider and 1mm taller than the previous generation but still up to 55kg lighter. The front bumper has fussy curves that seem to follow the lines of the T-shaped air intakes and the new headlights while the bonnet also gets a contoured surface.
The build of the new BMW 3 has increased body rigidity by up to 50 per cent with upgraded chassis technology. Beemer has also achieved a 50:50 weight distribution on the new 3 Series with a wider track at both ends – 43mm more up front and 21mm more at the back. Aerodynamics have been optimised to reduce the drag coefficient from 0.26 to 0.23 mainly thanks to the active air flap control for the kidney grille, the air curtains and an almost completely sealed underbody. It is also equipped with new damper technology with adaptive suspension as optional. The focus is not just to improve the driving experience of the 3 Series but also to make it more comfortable. It gets acoustic glass for the windscreen, more shoulder and elbow room in the front seats with easier ingress into the rear which now offers more legroom and a bigger, optional glass roof.
BMW showcased the 330i M Sport variant at the time of unveiling and also announced the 320d and the 320d xDrive equipped with the all-wheel-drive system. In terms of powertrains, BMW says six engine variants will be available at launch: four-cylinder petrol models, four-cylinder diesel engines and a six-cylinder diesel unit. An ultra-sporty M Performance version and an efficiency focussed plug-in hybrid (330e) drive system will be added to the range later on. The 320d four-cylinder diesel engine will be capable of 187bhp and 400Nm of torque which you can have with a six-speed manual instead of the 8-speed automatic transmission if you want. The 330i four-cylinder turbo-petrol engine will produce 254bhp and 400Nm of torque and send it to rear wheels only via the 8-speed auto box only. In all variants, the parking brake is now an electronic one. It should still be easy to slide and in the 330i M Sport trim you also get M Sport brakes and the electronic M Sport differential for fully-variable locking effect in the rear differential.
The biggest change for the BMW 3 Series, however, has happened with the onboard tech and there is a lot of it. Sure not all of it comes as standard and ticking the extra boxes does drive up the price, but its still premium tech in a smaller package. The G20 gets a full ensemble of driver assistance systems for increased safety and convenience with features like collision and pedestrian warning with braking function and lane departure warning as standard. An optional Driving Assistant Professional package adds more systems including active cruise control with stop/go function, steering and lane control assistant, lane change warning system, side collision protection, evasion aid etc. It also gets BMW’s cool self-parking tech for automated longitudinal and lateral guidance for moving into and out of parking spots. If you want to do it yourself, you still get rear-view camera, 360-degree cameras and reversing assistant.
For all the fancy tech you’d be configuring and using while driving the new BMW 3 Series, the standard equipment lists an instrument cluster with a 5.7-inch screen and the central control display with an 8.8-inch screen. There is also the optional BMW Live Cockpit Pro that comes with a fully-digital 12.3-inch instrument cluster and 10.25-inch control display on the dash. To operate these systems, one can use the iDrive controller or steering-mounted buttons or by touchscreen and with gesture or voice controls. BMW has also added their own digital assistant to the OS which will respond when greeted with ‘Hey BMW’ and learns routines and habits of the driver to be intuitively helpful.
The bog-standard base model of the new 3 starts at £33,610 and is expected to come to the Indian market early next year. On the other end of the specification spectrum, there is also the M Performance styling pack which offers a pretty good clue as to what the new G20 based M3 might look like. You can read more about that here.
What do you think of the new BMW 3 Series? Do you prefer the fussy-but-edgy look over the smoothness of the Merc C-Class or dullness of the Audi A4? Share your thoughts in the comments below the gallery and subscribe to The Auto Loons for the latest updates on our freshest content.