MHH International First Look: The New BMW 3 Series
For over forty years the BMW 3 Series Saloon has always had an unparalleled reputation for both quality and supreme handling in the premium mid-size segment. The statement design of ‘long bonnet, short back’ makes the car look fast standing still. Nevertheless, BMW has decided it is time for a change and have introduced the seventh iteration of this great car. With, say the Company, exceptional efficiency and innovative features, time will tell if the revised shape will appeal to buyers in the same way as the current model. Available from March 2019, prices will start at around £33,000 in the UK.
The new 3 Series has had its proportions radically revised. It is longer, wider and the wheelbase has been extended. At the front, the large, traditional BMW kidney grille is framed by a single surround and split up by wide bars and link to the headlight units. The customary BMW twin headlights feature the familiar two-way split that is further emphasised by an eye-catching notch in the front apron that rises into the headlight contour.
As you can see from the images, a pair of character lines rise to the rear of the car at door-handle level and a contour line near the side skirts guides the eye to the rear wheel arches. From launch, customers can choose from two non-metallic colours and ten metallic shades (regionally dependent) including the brand new Portimao Blue metallic which is unique to the top-selling M Sport model.
First look shows the interior to be spacious and oriented to the driver. The instrument panel has a modern, light styling with horizontal lines, high-quality trim and contours that extend into the doors. The newly-designed instrument cluster and Control Display form a large surfaced screen grouping, while the controls not included in these units are arranged into clearly structured function panels. As can be seen from the image the layout is very modern, neat and tidy, with additional controls on the steering wheel.
The start/stop button for the engine is now positioned in a control panel in the centre console that also houses the gear-shift lever or newly designed selector lever, the iDrive Controller, electromechanical parking brake and the buttons for the Driving Experience Control switch unit. At all trim levels BMW have increased the standard equipment. You’ll still have to dip into the options list though. The entry model now features a leather Sport steering wheel and BMW Live Cockpit plus, with its 8.8-inch central instrument cluster. SE, Sport variants add equipment. Then of course, there’s the M Sport model.
The M Sport model features particularly large air intakes as well as a different design for the front bumper, side skirts and rear apron. Inside there are Sports seats, an M leather steering wheel, an anthracite-coloured BMW individual headliner and interior trim strips in Aluminium ‘Tetragon’, updated leather seat trims and heated front seats. The M Sport model will also feature as standard the new BMW Live Cockpit Professional with a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, 10.3-inch central instrument cluster and BMWs brand new ID7 operating system.
Under the Skin
The upgraded four-cylinder engines from the BMW Group’s Efficient Dynamics family are used in the BMW 330i and the BMW 320d. The 3 Series Saloon will feature a new- generation six-speed manual gearbox and the eight-speed Steptronic transmission. As an alternative to rear-wheel drive, the BMW xDrive all-wheel-drive system will also be available for the new BMW 320d at launch which is a nice touch.
Early reports indicate that the car’s driving dynamics are up there with the best as BMW fans would expect, but the competition is getting fiercer as anyone who has driven the Alfa Romeo Guilia will tell you.
New 8 Series Convertible
As a postscript, BMW have announced the new 8 Series Convertible. It’s early days but the company in tells us that the car combines open-top, four-seater luxury with sports car performance and handling, a spacious interior and a superb soundtrack to match. Two engines will be offered at launch we learn, a V8 petrol engine in the 530hp BMW and a 320hp six-cylinder diesel. The Snag? Prices start from £83,000 in the UK. The car will be launched April 2109.