WASN’T BROKE: FIXED IT ANY­WAY

CAR (UK) - - Bmw’s ‘perfect’ 3-series -

SPLIT SCREEN NAR­RA­TIVE

Ex­ist­ing 3-se­ries fans will feel right at home; you wouldn’t mis­take the new car’s cabin for any­thing else. But the BMW has de-con­tented its lines and up­skilled its tech.

A fully dig­i­tal in­stru­ment clus­ter is now avail­able – the same size as the 7-se­ries’ – though en­try-level mod­els re­tain ana­logue gauges. The clus­ter sits at the same level as the mid-dash touch­screen, which mea­sures 8.8 inches in en­try-level cars and a gen­er­ous 10.2 inches in top mod­els. The 3-se­ries has long an­gled its pri­mary dash el­e­ments to­wards the driver and the G20 is no di†er­ent, with even the touch­screen’s glass curved sub­tly to­wards the car’s pi­lot.

‘HEY, BMW’

All cars get lat­est-gen­er­a­tion voice con­trol, now bet­ter able to un­der­stand a va­ri­ety of ac­cents, vo­cab­u­lar­ies and col­lo­qui­alisms. It no longer de­pends on ex­act phrases; say ‘hey’ fol­lowed by the name of your choice to get its at­ten­tion – ‘Hey BMW’ is the de­fault, but you can change it to any­thing you like. You can fol­low up with ‘Take me to the air­port’, or ‘I would like to eat Ital­ian’ (which brings up a list of nearby restau­rants), ‘I’m tired, please wake me up’ (drops the tem­per­a­ture, changes the am­bi­ent light­ing, starts an up­beat mu­sic playlist – stop­ping might be a bet­ter idea…). Per­sonal As­sis­tant func­tion can re­mem­ber di†er­ent fam­ily mem­bers’ pref­er­ences.

STILL ON THE BUT­TON

Apart from voice con­trol the new 3 also fea­tures ges­ture con­trol, as per the 5- and 7-se­ries; twirl a ”in­ger in front of the dash to change the vol­ume, for ex­am­ple. But there’s still the re­as­sur­ing pres­ence of phys­i­cal but­tons, now grouped to­gether in more log­i­cal clus­ters to re­duce clut­ter. The air-con switches and vents are now grouped in one unit (as per the new Z4 and X5). Shame they’re a lit­tle non­de­script and pla­s­ticky. The ro­tary iDrive con­troller re­turns, as a safer al­ter­na­tive to the touch­screen, now on its lat­est iDrive 7.0 soft­ware. While it’s iPhone-com­pat­i­ble, BMW and Google haven’t cur­rently come to an ar­range­ment for An­droid users.

LOOK­ING TRIM

M Sport mod­els, like the car pic­tured, get the usual aes­thetic tweaks: blue stitch­ing, real metal ped­als and sill kick­plates, and a smaller-di­am­e­ter (but still python-fat, in the mod­ern M tra­di­tion) soft-touch steer­ing wheel. Else­where in the range, alu­minium and wooden (open-pore or high-gloss) trims will be avail­able. The cabin’s newly cleaned-up lines are picked out with strips of conig­urable am­bi­ent light­ing, as per the 7-se­ries.

Op­tional, gen­er­ously cush­ioned sports seats (stan­dard on M Sport cars) feel se­ri­ously sup­port­ive, and you can still crank them right down to the loor for ‘I’d have been a DTM fron­trun­ner if I’d got­ten the breaks’ vibe.

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