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.

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