Car India - - FIRST DRIVE -

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

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