NEW LINE-UP OF BMW’S MEAT-AND-VEG 3 SERIES WILL WORRY RIVALS
AFTER dabbling last year, BMW has again refreshed its 3 Series with a (slightly) new look, new engines, more technology and more standard kit along with sharper prices on some models.
The latest enhancements include a new generation turbo six cylinder petrol in the rangetopping 340i as well as an entry level three cylinder turbo petrol model called the 318i.
TWO body styles are available in the line-up – four door sedan and five door Touring (wagon) – along with five engines: 318i three cylinder, 320i, 320d and 330i four cylinder 2-litres and the 340i six pot 3-litre. The 320d is a turbo diesel 2-litre.
Power and torque are up, with the 318i good for 100kW/220Nm using a claimed 5.4 litres/100km.
The 320i turbo petrol achieves 135kW/270Nm and 5.8 litres/100km, the 320d diesel generates 140kW/400Nm and gets 4.4 litres fuel economy, the 330i turbo petrol ratchets that up to 185kW/350Nm and 5.8 litres/100km, while the 340i turbo petrol six is good for 240Kw/450Nm and 6.8 litres/100km.
The latter is a completely new engine from BMW codenamed B58 and this is its first appearance in a production BMW. The engine retains similar technology to the previous 3-litre featuring a twin scroll turbo, direct fuel injection, variable cam tim- ing and valve lift, but hits upcoming European emissions targets and has impressive fuel efficiency.
This places the 340i at an advantage when it comes to applying the Luxury Car Tax. Because it uses less than 7 litres/100km, buyers pay less tax which is reflected in the purchase price.
IN TERMS of performance the 340i clocks a 0-100kmh sprint in a slick 5.1 seconds. But even the 330i is quick at 5.8 seconds with the others not far behind.
Part of the reason for this is the general adoption of an eightspeed automatic transmission with paddle shift across the entire range, 318i triple included. A six-speed manual can be ordered if requested.
Prices start at $54,900 for the 318i rising to $89,900 for the 340i.
The Touring wagon is only available in 320i and 330i spec, starting at $65,300 for the 320i. The 330i adds eight grand.
To the extra kit added across the 3-series range in late 2014, the latest revamp adds LED headlights, a more aggressive frontal look focusing on bumper and headlights, LED tail lights, a revised interior with more chrome trim, improved ambient lighting, chassis improvements with two-way dampers on some models with no comfort compromise, sharper steering and four drive modes: Eco, Comfort, Sport and Sport+ (on the 340i.)
BMW Connected-Drive is added, giving buyers more functionality and more digital connections.
WE WERE able to take the stylish, range-topping 340i for a spin in the NSW North Coast hinterland, an impressive experience.
The car is unashamedly a (luxury) sports sedan offering up stupendous engine performance and sharp dynamics with a large measure of comfort thrown in.
The sound of the potent straight six at full throttle is reminiscent of earlier M3s, with a metallic rasp piercing the well-insulated cabin when approaching engine redline.
Flick it into the next gear on the paddle shift and away it goes again with small increments between each of the eight cogs.
The handling and dynamics in general are right up to the engine with that sharp steering response and well controlled suspension giving the 340i a rock solid feel through turns, even on poor surfaces. Driver engagement is at a high level
Then there’s the luxury side of the equation which leaves very little to be desired.
Premium audio, soft leather upholstery, electric adjustment to many functions, multi zone climate control and a good helping of driver assist safety features.
The new BMW 3 Series looks more aggressive, and offers two new engines at the bottom and top of the range.