WASN’T BROKE: FIXED IT ANYWAY
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 dierent, with even the touchscreen’s glass curved subtly towards the car’s pilot.
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 dierent 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.
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 conigurable 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.