The seventh generation of BMW 3 Series saloon has been unveiled at the Paris Motor Show, and it’s set to go on sale here in March. When it does, the 320d SE will kick off the range initially, with a £33,610 starting price, with the newcomer boasting more space, improved engines and updated technology.
3 SERIES UNVEILED IN PARIS
BMW describes its new design as precise and clean, and its revised look brings the 3 Series in line with newly launched models like the X5 SUV. Its kidney grilles are taller than before and two contour lines run along the sides of the car, emphasizing rear wheelarches that are now more prominent than before. The famous BMW ‘Hofmeister kink’ remains to the rear of the side windows, but the rear lights are now ‘L-shaped’. At either side of the lower grille sit front fog lights and air intakes that form drag-reducing air curtains.
It’s shape has changed too; it’s 85mm longer, 16mm wider and the wheelbase has been stretched by 41mm. Not only this, but the front track has been stretched by 43mm, and there’s 21mm more space between the rear wheels. A few practicality gains include 11mm more room between the front and rear seats, a larger rear door aperture and the ability to place three child seats along the back seat.
The new interior continues the 3 Series trait of being driver-focused, with the center console angled slightly in their direction. There are flowing, horizontal lines and controls are grouped into three areas for simplicity; with heater switches on the central stack, light controls by the steering wheel and the gear selector and iDrive controller on the central console, which now also houses the engine start button. Trim levels consist of SE, Sport and M Sport, with standard equipment including 40:20:40 split and fold rear seats, three-zone climate control, LED headlights, ambient lighting and an 8.8- inch infotainment screen. Sport versions add high-gloss exterior trim, with similar black trim inside, sports leather seats (that are heated in the front) and 18-inch alloy wheels. Likely to remain popular as before, M Sport versions get a unique exterior design, with different bumpers and side skirts, along with sports seats and an M Sport steering wheel. Technology is boosted by a new 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster and 10.3-inch infotainment screen running BMW’s latest ID7 software.
At launch, the 320d is the sole diesel engine offered, but with the choice of rear- or xDrive four-wheel drive and a new six-speed manual or an eight-speed automatic gearbox. This is a revised engine with 188bhp, that now gets multi-stage turbocharging for improved efficiency. Acceleration from 0-62mph takes 7.1 seconds (6.8 for the automatic) and fuel consumption figures are 64.2mpg and 67.3mpg respectively, with the 2019 BMW 320d xDrive G20 capable of 62.8mpg. CO2 emissions of 110 to 118g/km will see it sit in the 27 to 28 per cent Benefit-in- Kind bands for company-car drivers. There have been significant chassis upgrades, with BMW claiming the body is now 25 per cent stiffer and 55kg lighter, with significant weight savings coming from fitting an aluminum bonnet, suspension components and front wings. Aerodynamics have been optimized so that the co-efficient has been cut from 0.26 to 0.23 Cd for the 320d, thanks to a sealed underbody, optimized alloy wheels and flaps that open and close behind the front grilles. M Sport models are fitted with stiffer suspension, or optional Adaptive M dampers with Comfort, Sport and Adaptive modes, and the 320d can be fitted with the M Sport Plus package that includes M Sport brakes and blue calipers.
Safety technology has been boosted by BMW’s Active Guard Plus coming as standard, that provides speed limit information, lane departure warnings and autonomous emergency braking.
To improve safety further and help reduce fatigue, customers can also add the Driving Assistance Professional Pack, with active cruise control that can stop the 3 Series in traffic and help steer within a lane, avoid lane-changing crashes and warn you of crossing traffic ahead.
A reversing camera and self-parking system are fitted as standard, along with a Reversing Assistant, that can keep the 3 Series on your chosen path for up to 50 metres while you accelerate and brake. Choose the optional head-up display and the viewing area is now 70 per cent larger, with improved graphics and a new warning if you get too close to the car ahead. It’s available as part of a Technology Pack that also adds Harman Kardon speakers, wireless smartphone charging and gesture control for the infotainment system.
The 3 Series saloon is available to order now, and will arrive in UK showrooms next March. Later, a replacement for the Touring estate will be revealed, along with additional engine choices, thought to be 2019 BMW 318d G20 and 2019 BMW 330d G20 variants.
“...it’s 85mm longer, 16mm wider and the wheelbase has been stretched by 41mm...”