‘3 SERIES MUST LOOK EAGER FOR CORNERS’
It’s definitely a 3 Series. The G20 hasn’t deviated radically from its design roots and you wouldn’t mistake its chopped nose, broad rear haunches, and square-cut stance for anything else at 20 paces. Walk around it close up and some of the subtleties of its new design become more evident: the
interacting highlights over the rear arches and the body panels’ surface creases pinched to a starchedcrisp point in a way that wouldn’t have been possible for a mainstream production car only a few years ago.
‘It’s easy to achieve this type of line on a simple surface, but much more difficult in 3D,’ explains Design Manager Marc Michael Markefka. ‘It became a strategic project for the whole development team. We needed the will of all departments to achieve it.’
The kidney grille is bolder and more threedimensional than before and features active shutters to blank off sections for lower drag on the move. (Cd has dropped to 0.23 compared with the previous car’s 0.26, helped by a totally flat floor.) Another BMW hallmark, the Hofmeister kink (the reverse flick on the trailing edge of the side windows), has evolved too — it’s now a separate trim piece on the bodywork rather than the window, coloured dark to visually stretch the windowline more towards the rear of the car and help it look more athletic as a result.
This is an M Sport car, with the go-faster trim so beloved of UK buyers. (It’s expected to make up 70 per cent of sales in Britain, with the remainder equally split between entry-level SE and mid-spec Sport.) This car is also fitted with the optional upsized 19-inch wheels and laser headlights — easily spotted by their blue light insets and different daytime running light signatures.
‘It was important to keep the headlights’ height very low — it makes the car look more dynamic,’ says Markefka. Further emphasizing the 3 Series’ sporting credentials, all cars get twin tailpipes — of a beefy 90-mm diameter on launch models. (Later base models will be a slightly more understated 80 mm.) The M340i will get its own rectangular tailpipe design and unique headlights.
And it’s not just the interior that makes use of ambient lighting. On the exterior, too, light shows are becoming part of automotive design. Puddle lamps — projected logos on to the floor — are becoming commonplace. The 3 Series goes a step further with its “light carpet” function: projectors under the front of the sill beam a long L-shaped motif, similar to that of the taillight graphics, along the car’s length. A standout feature, it’s standard on all 3 Series in the UK.
The big question, though — have BMW’s designers been bold enough? Markefka: ‘We wanted to make a step forward with the design and I think we have, but, at the same time, there is heritage we were keen to keep.’
You can appreciate the conflict. But given the new 3 Series will be on sale seven years, with a minor mid-life refresh, the G20’s likely to be looking a little too “heritage” come 2025.
FLAT FLOOR Fully flat and aero-optimized underfloor has helped cut drag for improved efficiency, performance, and high-speed stability. Just go easy over those speed bumps