The BMW 3 Series has been with us for many years now, 43 to be exact. Since its launch in 1975 it has been the staple for the white collars and aspirational’s alike. Becoming the yuppie transport for those in the 80’s. Particularly in the UK where an upmarket sedan was much to be desired when nothing from British manufacturers could quite match its no-nonsense build quality, reliability, styling and driving characteristics. Now though, it’s a much more affordable, common sight on our roads thanks to lower prices, finance and fleets. The 3 Series has always been the benchmark premium sedan amongst its rivals such as the Audi A4 and Mercedes C-Class. With its perfect match of comfort and driving capabilities you can easily see why the 3 Series is still admired. Things have a life cycle. And when its time for a new model to replace an outgoing model. It has to be better than the last. And thats hard when you have the pressure of your customers who don’t want something radically new, but rather an updated version of what they already have. That, along with the competition [who are always going to try and steal sales] is a hard ball game. So, for 2019 we have a new 3 Series model, the G20 chassis. There was four on BMW’s stand at the Paris Motor show and we couldn’t wait to see what BMW had done. And from what we have seen and heard, it’s a real improvement in all all areas, apart from one. Which I will get onto later in this article.
So what’s new? Well it looks more angular and aggressive, with a one piece kidney grill and more lines down the side. The M-sport styling pack looks as if the car’s hugging the ground. Think of it as a baby 5 Series, or a shrunk down version of bigger models that the Germans are known for doing. Its bigger on the inside too with more room in the back. That makes sense because the car is bigger. It’s also lighter too, 55kg lighter on one model. This is down to the use of high-strength steel, shaving off 20kg alone. An aluminium bonnet and wings save a further 15kg. The new struts and subframe are made from aluminium knocking off a further 7.5kg. The track is wider than the outgoing model by 43mm at the front, and 21mm at the rear. All this should make the new 3 Series even better to chuck down a twisty road. There’s new suspension here as well. BMW’s passive Lift-Related Dampers are standard on all models. Meaning each wheel gets primary and secondary springs as well as hydraulic bump stops. Softening the ride and making it handle much better. ‘M’ models get a 10mm lower set up with the same system and electric rear diff.
The toys are good too. Even standard equipment is generous. But where this car really shines is in the options you can now get for the 3 Series. Some of this stuff should be standard but that’s BMW at the end of the day. Apple car play along with an 8.8’ inch touch screen. Heads up display. Park Assistant Plus, which mirrors a 360 of the car onto the infotainment screen. Harmon Kardon sound System. Wireless charging and BMW’s gesture control. Parallel parking and welcome LED lights are standard on the SE entry level model. Which means these things are standard on all models of the range now. So is BMW’s 5.7 inch digital gauge cluster. Which is a shame, because analogue dials was a free option I always liked on the previous 3 Series models. Sadly, all good things come to and end.
As for Engines, the 3 Series was launched with two engines, but expect more to come along with a PHEV model, along with the much anticipated M3. We get a 2.0 320d, which although BMW think will be the most popular, we think will sell less than expected due to the rise in diesels being boycotted. It comes with 190bhp and increases MPG over the old model from 57.6 v to 64.2. 0-60 is dealt with in 7.1 seconds and is limited to 150 mph. Fitted with the optional 8 speed auto you can get these figures bettered with MPG up to 67.3 and the 0-60 down to 6.9. xDrive will be an option. We also have a petrol 2.0 330i, In keeping with BMW’s fairly new and confusing nomenclature. Pushing 258bhp, which will get the 3 Series from 0-60 in 5.6 seconds and return MPG of 48.7. The rep on the BMW stand told us we will be getting a 330d and a 340i in due course, along with the touring models in Spring/Summer of 2019.
So what will it cost? And when does it go on sale? Well, its a bit more this time round. Starting at £33,610 for the 320d SE. With a 6 speed manual and no xDrive. Making it more expensive than the C Class diesel. xDrive is a 3k option pushing the price up to £36,800. The petrol model will start at £37,660. So, outlawing diesels it seems has given the car makers an excuse to charge a premium for petrols. A trend we noticed at the show. The new 3 Series will officially go on sale March 9th 2019.
I mentioned earlier on the new 3 Series excels over the previous models except in one area. That one area which disappoints is the interior. Don’t get me wrong, the design and space is a huge improvement. The problem with it is BMW have taken a step down in material quality. It didn’t feel as premium as the last model. Dashboard materials less soft and some rough plastics in certain areas left me feeling rather disappointed. Its a car I would still personally buy but thats the downside to the whole package. Its still wonderfully screwed together but just not as tactile as you might think. With higher prices and a skimp on interior trims you can tell BMW are really trying to maximise profits here. But either way, I like the new 3 Series. I think its a solid evolution of an already very solid car! All we need to do now is see if it still lives up to what made the 3 Series the sedan to have in the first place.
By Clarke Mackinnon