BMW aims to put 3 Se­ries back on pole with a re­turn to its en­thu­si­ast roots

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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.

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