BMW in sharp-handling 3-Series shock
BMW has tired of sweetsteering Alfas and put new 3-Series back on top
Yes, we’ve bagged a drive in the next BMW 3-Series before it’s been properly unveiled to the public – that’s due in October. The camouflage isn’t really fooling anyone, though – it’s fairly obvious this is a new BMW saloon car, albeit wider and longer than the car it replaces. Even so, BMW’s claiming weight savings of around 55kg.
The key gain is the track width, which has grown by 30mm, the centre of gravity also lowering by 10mm. The goal here, clearly, is for BMW to reassert its best-selling model as the driver’s choice among the junior exec gang.
Its new CLAR (Cluster Architecture reardrive platform) is 50 per cent stiffer than that of the outgoing car. BMW has also invested heavily in some trick dampers with hydraulic bump stops, too, for even the lowliest models. Basically it’s sharper, more accurate and predictable than ever. We know because we drove it on the Nürburgring. The chassis is perfectly balanced – thank the 50:50 weight distribution for that – the steering quick and accurate, the nose resisting understeer, and there’s that whiff of rear-drive push if you’re looking for it. The steering has some feel, too.
BMW’s still got about 10 per cent final tuning work to do, but even so – unless the engineers massively drop the ball – the 3-Series will re-establish itself at the top of the class. Order restored.