Starters on the menu
A THREE-CYLINDER 3 Series raises the price of entry to BMW’s most popular sedan.
The 3 Series midlife update marks the launch of the 1.5-litre turbo as the range’s base engine.
The 318i starter car is $54,900, an increase of $1100 on the outgoing 316i. Engine apart, the new version has a head-up display, lane change alert, surround-view reversing camera, dual-zone climate control, LED headlamps, satnav with real-time traffic info and BMW’s Connected Drive tech.
BMW’s customary small sedan rivals are still dearer, with the Audi A4 starting at $55,500 and Mercedes-Benz’s entry C-Class at $60,900, though both have more power.
As the specification level rises, the prices for the facelifted 3 Series decrease relative to the outgoing cars. The 340i, the replacement for the loved 335i variant, comes in more than $3000 cheaper at $89,900. Similarly the 330i is $500 cheaper than the outgoing 328i.
Designations change to coincide with the launch of a modular engine family with standardised 500cc cylinder displacement. The 1.5-litre three-cylinder generates the same power as the current 1.6litre four-cylinder turbo while using just 5.4L/100km.
The 320 trio of petrolpowered sedan and wagon and diesel sedan enhance standard kit to include power front seats, adaptive suspension, sports mode on the eight-speed auto and digital radio.
In 320i guise and with outputs of 135kW/270Nm, the sedan is $61,900 and the wagon $65,300. In the sedan, the sprint from 0-100km/h takes 7.3secs, claimed fuel use is 5.8L/100km and the wagon’s respective figures are 7.5s and 5.9L.
At $63,800 the 320d is the sole diesel in the line-up, the carry-over engine now good for 140kW/400Nm and a claimed 4.4L/100km.
The outgoing 328i accounted for 40 per cent of sales and the new volume seller, the 330i, starts at $69,900. Specified with 19-inch wheels, leather upholstery and enhanced satnav, it will take less than 6.0s for the sprint to 100km/h.
The headline 340i stops the clock at 5.1 seconds, courtesy of a new 3.0-litre six-cylinder turbo good for 240kW/450Nm. It is also loaded with the latest tech, including variable sports steering, adaptive LED headlamps, active cruise control, parking assist and internet connectivity.
All 3 Series will steer more precisely and show less body roll, without sacrificing comfort, thanks to returning of standard and adaptive suspension alike.
The facelifted 3 Series will go on sale next month — but the 318i is due in November.