BMW 3 Se­ries raises the bar again

Business Day - Motor News - - FRONT PAGE -

Build­ing on the ex­cel­lent foun­da­tions of the outgoing F30 model and 43 years of dom­i­neer­ing seg­ment knowhow, the sev­enth-gen­er­a­tion BMW 3 Se­ries is an in­tel­li­gent and thrilling ju­nior exec.

With this lat­est ver­sion, BMW has come out swing­ing among its strate­gies be­ing a prom­ise to sell the new car at vir­tu­ally the same prices as the outgoing model.

The mod­ern drive for bet­ter ev­ery­thing, from lower emis­sions to re­fine­ment and dig­i­tal so­phis­ti­ca­tion, has made its mark on the new 3 Se­ries, which now daz­zles with tech­nol­ogy, new me­chan­i­cal con­fig­u­ra­tions and an all-new, all-wheel-drive range-top­per.

BMW SA has con­firmed only the 320d and 330i for lo­cal de­but in March 2019.

This new 3 Se­ries is a mea­sur­ably bet­ter car and could well be the un­do­ing of seg­ment ex­pec­ta­tions in gen­eral. Quan­tifi­able im­prove­ments in all ar­eas see a slightly larger but 55kg lighter car with qui­eter cab­ins and bet­ter out­puts.

At 4,709mm long, the new 3 Se­ries is 76mm longer than its pre­de­ces­sor, 16mm wider and just 1mm taller. The cabin is imag­ined in the same style and de­sign seen in both the new BMW X5 and X7, adopt­ing the wedge shapes and BMW Live Cock­pit. Spec­i­fi­ca­tion lines are the Ad­van­tage, Sport Line, Lux­ury Line, M Sport and M Per­for­mance.

The in­te­rior is con­structed with good ma­te­ri­als, and er­gonomics have re­turned firmly to be an­gled to­wards the driver. It’s an aura of height­ened re­fine­ment that per­me­ates through the ve­hi­cle now, which also in­tro­duces ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence. New ba­sics in­clude laser-light head­lamps with 530m of night-time bright­ness, while a re­worked chas­sis aims for a cushier, sharper and more com­posed driv­ing ex­pe­ri­ence.

This is com­ple­mented by indepth tech­ni­cal change. Below the new sur­face pan­els that are penned with the pur­suit of aero­dy­nam­ics and vis­ual drama are truly fine en­gines.

The re­mark­able coming to­gether of ev­ery new as­pect and the qual­ity of this car is go­ing to trou­ble seg­ment ri­vals. Since BMW SA halted the sale of six-speed man­ual gear­boxes, the cars will be avail­able ex­clu­sively with an eight- speed Step­tronic trans­mis­sion. Though out­puts re­main un­changed at 140kW and 400Nm from the pre­vi­ous model, the 320d is live­lier now, thanks to the in­tro­duc­tion of mul­ti­stage tur­bocharg­ing.

This brings in­creased ef­fi­ciency across all en­gine speeds, and im­proved the 0100km/h sprint from 7.2 to 6.8 sec­onds, with a top speed of 240km/h. Fuel con­sump­tion com­bined is a claimed 4.5l/100km. The 330i is pow­ered by a 190kW and 400Nm 2.0l petrol sin­gle turbo, which is 5kW and 50Nm up on the outgoing car. Com­bined fuel con­sump­tion is rated at 5.8l/100km and it’s claimed to shoot from stand­still to 100km/h in 5.8 sec­onds with a 250km/h top ve­loc­ity.

It de­ploys its thrust vig­or­ously and, fit­ted with adap­tive dampers, it gen­er­ates true re­flec­tions of var­i­ous set­ups ac­cord­ing to mode se­lected. These are Com­fort, Sport and Sport Plus.

Dy­nam­i­cally, few ri­vals will seem­ingly of­fer any­thing like the driv­ing tex­ture of the lat­est 3, whether in 20d, 30i or M340i xDrive guise, the lat­ter car ear­marked for a global de­but in June 2019. How­ever, we got an early taste of this six-cylin­der gaunt­let that BMW plans to throw at the feet of Audi’s qu­at­tro-wield­ing S4 and AMG’s C43 4MATIC. This of­fers a truly vis­ceral and sporty driv­ing ex­pe­ri­ence, its all-wheel-drive

The new look is evo­lu­tion­ary yet strik­ing.

Whether coming or go­ing, the new 3 Se­ries leaves an im­pres­sion. Sim­i­lar­i­ties in styling to the X5 and X7 are found in the roomier and qui­eter cabin, left.

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