BMW 3 SERIES
BMW aims to put 3 Series back on pole with a return to its enthusiast roots
Seat time in the BMW that’s set to return dynamics to front and centre
WITH dwindling global sales and its reputation as the dynamic leader in the class among its junior premium executive sedan rivals no longer unimpeachable, BMW’S 3 Series replacement, codenamed G20, can’t come quickly enough. We’ll see it officially at the Paris Motor Show but we’ve spent some time in a 3 Series prototype in advance of its October unveiling.
Utilising BMW’S CLAR (Cluster Architecture) rear-wheel-drive platform, the next generation 3 Series will grow in dimensions, offer a range of revised engines and improved info and entertainment systems inside a larger, more upmarket interior. There’ll be a slight increase in the wheelbase for that more spacious cabin, but it’s the 30mm boost in track width that the engineers are most excited about.
Clearly stung by criticism that the existing 3 Series has been surpassed, or at least equalled on the road, that 30mm track width is instrumental – as well as a 10mm drop in the centre of gravity – in reasserting the 3 Series at the top of the class. In addition the 3 Series features new dampers with hydraulic bump stops for improvements not just in agility and precision, but also ride comfort. The new bump stops will be standard on all BMW 3 Series variants, from the lowliest entry-level 318i to the 340i M Performance models, these additionally gaining 10mm lower M Sport suspension with the option of an electronically controlled limited-slip differential.
With the suspension working off underpinnings that are some 50 percent stiffer than its predecessor, our early drive of the 3 Series, on road and track, underlines BMW’S assertion that it’ll take class honours dynamically. The 330i we sampled did benefit from riding on the optional M Sport suspension, as
well as featuring the optional electronic limited slip differential, variable sport steering and BMW M Sport brakes; the engineers admitting that so equipped the 3 Series is at its very best. It’s unlikely to represent the biggest seller though.
What is undeniable is the 3 Series feels appreciably bigger inside, while even these late preproduction cars had an interior that’s a big step on in terms of quality feel, as well as visually.