The BMW 3 Series Saloon has had an unparalleled reputation both for its quality, and supreme handling in the premium midsize segment for more than 40 years and this, the seventh generation, raises the bar even higher.
When the first BMW 3 Series was launched in 1975, it revolutionised the segment and became BMW’s most successful model. The saloon is the core of BMW 3 Series range (of which over 15 million units have been sold worldwide) and is regarded as the heartbeat of the BMW brand. With revised styling, superior driving dynamics, exceptional efficiency and innovative features, this latest iteration opens an exciting new chapter in 3 Series progression.
Precision, clean lines and bold contours are the hallmarks of the new 3 Series Saloon, which has had its proportions radically revised. The new car is 85 millimetres longer than its predecessor (at 4,709mm), 16 millimetres wider (1,827mm) and just 1 mm taller (1,442 millimetres). Added to that, its wheelbase has been extended by 41 millimetres to 2,851mm, as has its track widths (front: by 43mm, and rear by 21mm).
At the front, the large BMW kidney grille elements are 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.
The bonnet has four contour lines leading to the BMW kidney grille. At its leading edge, it sits flush with the upper edge of the headlights and kidney grille. Both the front foglights and the Air Curtains are integrated into the outer air intakes, which are inserted into the front apron in a horizontal T shape on SE and Sport models. This design was originally developed by the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA) for the intake air in jet engines and later became a feature of classical racing cars.
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 sculpted rear wheel arches. Another feature is the ‘Hofmeister kink’ – the familiar counter-swing at the trailing edge of the side window graphic. A BMW hallmark, this element of the window frame is now integrated into the C-pillar, giving the rear doors a “freestanding” glass edge.
Surface contours lead into the rear apron from the side skirts and extend in an upwards movement via the rear lights up to the spoiler lip on the boot lid. At the rear slim, darkened light units house L-shaped taillights.
From launch, customers can choose from two non-metallic colours and ten metallic shades including the brand new Portimao Blue metallic which is unique to the top-selling M Sport model.
The interior is designed to accentuate the spaciousness of the cabin and the driver-focused cockpit. The instrument panel has a modern, light look with horizontal lines, high-quality electroplated trim strips 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.
Displays and buttons for the air conditioning are at the centre of the instrument panel while the light functions are operated via a panel of buttons next to the steering wheel. The start/stop button for the engine is now positioned in a control panel in the centre console that houses the gearshift lever or newly designed selector lever, the iDrive Controller, electromechanical parking brake and the buttons for the Driving Experience Control switch unit.
The range of standard and optional interior trim elements available for the instrument panel and centre console is almost entirely new. As well as open-pore fine wood options, customers can choose from a variety of aluminium trims including a new Aluminium “mesh effect” interior trim.
Increased standard equipment
The entry level SE model features substantially increased standard specification. It includes Adaptive LED headlights with cornering light and eyebrow indicators, BMW Welcome Light Carpet, Interior Ambient Lighting with up to 11 colour settings, Parking Assistant with reversing camera and latest generation reversing assistant, Electric folding mirrors, Three-zone air conditioning and enhanced Acoustic glazing. All 3 Series models benefit from 40:20:40 split folding rear seats and folding rear headrests as standard. The entry model features a leather Sport steering wheel and BMW Live Cockpit plus, with its 8.8-inch central instrument cluster.
The SE models get line-specific front and rear bumper design, and they also come with exclusive 17-inch light-alloy wheels or optional 18-inch wheels, bespoke door sill strips and LED front foglights.
The Sport model adds exterior features including BMW Individual high-gloss Shadow Line trim for the side window surrounds, plus kidney grille slats and trim elements for the air intakes and rear apron in High-gloss Black. The Sport model’s interior features an interior trim in High-gloss Black and Sports seats for the driver and front passenger. The Sport model also comes equipped with 18-inch alloy wheels, Vernasca leather seats and Front heated seats.
The top-selling M Sport model features particularly large air intakes as well as a different design for the front bumper, side skirts and rear apron. It also includes BMW Individual high-gloss Shadow Line trim, Kidney grille slats in High-gloss Black, air intake trim in High-gloss Black and a rear diffuser in Dark Shadow. Inside there are Sports seats, an M leather steering wheel, an anthracite-coloured BMW Individual headliner and an interior trim in Aluminium Tetragon, new Vernasca leather seats 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 Operating System 7.0 with the Intelligent Personal Assistant.
Engines and powertrain
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.
Systematic upgrades have been made to the BMW TwinPower Turbo technology for the two-litre, four-cylinder diesel engines in the BMW 320d and BMW 320d xDrive models. It now includes multi-stage turbocharging, which brings increased efficiency across all engine speeds. The revised diesel has a maximum output of 190hp and a peak torque of 400Nm enabling the BMW 320d to accelerate from zero to 62 mph in 7.1 seconds (automatic: 6.8 seconds) while the BMW 320d xDrive can get from zero to 62mph in 6.9 seconds. Average fuel consumption is 54.3-56.5mpg (automatic: 53.3-55.4mpg) for the 320d and 49.6-52.3mpg for the 320d xDrive. The 320d’s CO2 emissions are 115g/km (automatic: 110g/km) while the 320d xDrive’s CO2 emissions are 118g/km.
Further models, the 320i, 318d and 330d, will make their debuts in April 2019 while the plug-in electric hybrid 330e and M Performance M340i xDrive will go on sale in July 2019. The 320i has a four-cylinder engine developing 184hp and 300Nm of torque and equipped as standard with an eight-speed automatic transmission its average fuel consumption is 41.5-43.5mpg with CO2 emissions of 126g/km. The 318d with its four-cylinder 2.0-litre diesel engine that produces 150hp and 320Nm of torque will be available with either a six-speed manual or eight-speed automatic gearbox. Average fuel consumption is 55.4-58.9mpg (automatic: 52.3-55.4mpg) with CO2 emissions of 113g/km and 109g/km respectively.
The 330d’s 3.0-litre straight-six develops an impressive 265hp and 580Nm of torque for a zero to 62mph time of 5.5 seconds. As standard it features an eight-speed automatic transmission and has an average economy of 46.3-47.9mpg and CO2 emissions of 133g/km.
The M Performance model in the 3 Series line up, the M340i xDrive, will feature a 3.0-litre straight-six turbocharged engine and with xDrive intelligent four-wheel drive and an eight-speed automatic transmission it will accelerate from zero to 62mph in just 4.4 seconds. When it goes on sale in July 2019 it will be joined by the 330e PHEV.
The 330e has a four-cylinder petrol engine teamed with an electric motor for a combined peak output of 252hp and 420Nm of torque and an all-electric range of over 35 miles.
To maximise the handling capabilities of the new 3 Series Saloon BMW has increased the front and rear track, camber values for the front wheels and stiffened the body and suspension mountings. Used for the first time in a BMW model, the lift-related dampers are part of the car’s standard chassis to balance comfort and agility. An addition, overall body rigidity is up by some 25 per cent, rising to as much as 50 per cent in certain areas, while the suspension spring rate is up by 20 per cent over the previous-generation.
Overall, the new BMW 3 Series Saloon weighs up to 55kg less than its predecessor. The body itself is 20kg lighter, while aluminium front spring struts and engine subframe have cut 7.5kg from the overall weight. A further weight saving of almost 15kg is due to the use of aluminium for the bonnet and front side panels.
Aerodynamic improvements have also been applied. The drag coefficient (Cd) of the BMW 320d, for example, has been reduced from 0.26 to 0.23 thanks to an almost completely sealed underbody, aerodynamically optimised wheels, the use of Air Curtains at the front and the latest generation of active air flap control, which extends across the BMW kidney grille and lower air intake. M Sport models which feature the M Sport suspension as standard, including all the all-wheel-drive versions, have a 10mm lowering of the car’s ride height.
Adaptive M suspension with electronically controlled dampers
For M Sport models, as an alternative to the M Sport suspension customers can specify Adaptive M suspension that now results in a perceptible variation in the damping characteristics when switching between the driving modes using the Driving Experience Control switch. Drivers can select COMFORT mode for relaxed driving, SPORT mode for a dynamic driving style, while ADAPTIVE mode automatically adjusts to the driving style and, depending on the equipment specified, to the route itself. The Adaptive M suspension can be purchased as part of the M Sport Plus package.
Both the BMW 320d and BMW 320d xDrive SE models are equipped as standard with 17-inch light-alloy wheels while the Sport and M Sport models feature unique 18-inch wheel designs and optional 19-inch light-alloy wheels are available – as are high performance tyres on the 330i and 330d M Sport models.
The 320d and 320d xDrive M sport models can be specified, as part of the M Sport Plus package, with uprated M Sport brakes. These lightweight model-specific brake discs have a grey cast iron friction ring with an aluminium brake disc chamber, while the blue-painted callipers feature the M logo to give the car a sporty look. The M Sport brakes are included as standard on 330i and 330d M Sport models.
The new 3 Series Saloon also includes Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) which features anti-lock braking (ABS) and Dynamic Traction Control (DTC), but also a variety of stabilising functions and the Start-Off Assistant. The Performance Control function is also standard. This system improves agility by varying the drive torque through the rear wheels depending on conditions.
The M Sport differential for the rear axle is available as an option for the BMW 330i and BMW 330d models in combination with the M Sport Plus package. The electronically controlled, fully variable locking function in the rear differential helps to enhance traction, agility and cornering in dynamic and challenging road situations.
Interior and equipment
The cabin has been improved to maximise driver focus while offering more space and increased comfort. Shoulder room in the front of the cabin has also increased, and passengers in the rear benefit from more legroom. The distance between the front and rear seats has been extended by 11 millimetres, and all occupants have more headroom.
Getting in and out of the car is easier for the rear passengers because the door aperture height has been increased. The rear compartment can accommodate a row of three child seats, two of which can be locked into place using ISOFIX anchor points. Standard 40:20:40 split-folding backrests on the rear seats give maximum flexibility.
Newly designed standard seats in SE models offer greater long-distance comfort while the sports seats equipped in the Sport and M Sport models feature a broader range of adjustment. Seat heating is standard on Sport and M Sport models, but available within the SE Plus package on SE models. Both the standard seats and sports seats can be specified with electric adjustment including memory. The new Vernasca leather upholstery is a standard feature on Sport and M Sport models and comes in a choice of four colours with special decorative quilting and seam patterns, which vary according to the model line.
The new BMW 3 Series Saloon features a restyled leather sports steering wheel with multifunction buttons, thumb rests and electroplated applications. The M Sport models benefit from their own unique M leather steering wheel. Also optional is an electric glass sunroof, which has been increased in length by 100 millimetres. The interior liner has a motorised opening and closing action, just like the glass roof itself.
Boot capacity is 480 litres, and its new partitioning into primary luggage compartment and separate storage compartments has created an additional 36 litres of space. Automatic Tailgate operation and an electrically retractable towbar are also optional. If the Comfort Access option is specified, the car can automatically unlock when the radio remote control is detected in its immediate vicinity and lock again when it moves out of range. This also includes hands-free opening and closing of the boot lid and is available as part of the Comfort package. For added security, a new movement sensor in the key permanently monitors whether the key is being carried (and therefore is always transmitting) or has been put down on a table, for example, allowing it to switch into standby mode removing the risk of the key signal being picked up by transmitter devices.
Adaptive LED headlights and LED foglights are standard, LED
headlights with extended features include a dynamic cornering light function. Optionally available for the first time on a BMW 3 Series, BMW Laserlight features adaptive functionality, high beam assistant and selective beam and has a non-dazzling high-beam that extends to over 500 metres, almost double that of the full-LED headlights. These are selected with the Visibility Package and cost £1500 on all models.
Standard-fit equipment includes rain sensor, automatic headlight activation, a Bluetooth hands-free phone facility, automatic climate control (including three zones with independent controls for the driver, front passenger and rear passengers) and acoustic glass for the windscreen, driver and passenger side windows which dramatically reduces cabin noise.
DAB radio comes as standard on the BMW 3 Series Saloon. This audio system features six speakers with an output of 100 watts. The optional 464-watt Harman Kardon surround sound system with 16 speakers and a digital seven-channel amplifier is available as part of the Technology package.
Package and Option Simplification
The package and option structure for the new 3 Series has been dramatically simplified, with a package and option list reduced to 6 main packages and around 10 single options. The packages group together options which share similar functionality or customer benefit, and will ease the ordering process while still allowing for a wide degree of personalisation.
The M Sport Plus package combines a 19-inch wheel, M Sport brakes (18d, 20i, 20d and 20d xDrive) Adaptive M Suspension, Sun Protection Glazing, M Seat belts, Black kidney grills, M Rear spoiler. The 330i models with M Sport Plus also gain the electronic M differential.
A new Technology package combines the Harman Kardon speakers, Head Up Display, Extended Bluetooth with Wireless Charging and Gesture Control. The Comfort package combines the Heated Steering Wheel, Comfort Access, Automated Tailgate and Storage Compartment package. The Premium package includes Electric Seats with memory, Lumbar Support and the Electric Glass Sunroof.
The car features as standard with Active Guard Plus which includes speed limit information, lane departure warning and Collision and Pedestrian Warning with City Braking function along with Cruise Control with braking function.
Customers can also order the Driving Assistant Professional package that includes the Driving Assistant as well as Active Cruise Control with Stop & Go, Steering and Lane Control Assistant, Lane Keeping Assistant with active side collision protection, Priority Warning and Wrong-way warning systems and Cross-Traffic Alert.
The latest generation of BMW’s Head-Up Display is optional and available as part of a Technology package. This has a projection area 70 per cent larger than in the outgoing version. It also has enhanced graphics, additional display readings as well a distance warning that flashes up a graphic icon to alert the driver when they get too close to the vehicle in front.
Parking Assistant features front and rear PDC, a reverse camera and has a parallel parking function and is fitted as standard. Another new feature of the Parking Assistant is the Reversing Assistant. This system offers automated reversing in confined spaces where the driver does not have a clear view, such as multi-storey car parks or entrances to courtyards. The system can reverse the vehicle for distances of up to 50 metres by steering it along the same line it has just taken when moving forward: all the driver has to do is operate the accelerator and brake pedals.
Customers can choose to upgrade to Park Assistant Plus which includes the Park View, Panorama View and 3D Top View features. These can create a 360 degree image of the vehicle and its surroundings – from different perspectives – in the Control Display. This introduces Remote 3D View function gives drivers the ability to call up a three-dimensional live image of their vehicle and its immediate vicinity on their smartphone.
BMW Intelligent Personal Assistant
New for the BMW 3 Series Saloon, drivers and passengers will be joined by the BMW Intelligent Personal Assistant, an intelligent, digital character that responds to the prompt “Hey BMW”. This will mark the start of a new era for the BMW Group in which drivers will increasingly be able to operate their car and access its functions and information simply by speaking.
BMW’s Intelligent Personal Assistant learns routines and habits, and is subsequently able to apply them in the appropriate context. The system helps the driver, learns their preferences and is familiar with their favoured settings – e.g. for the seat heating or the places they drive to frequently using the navigation system (“Take me home”). One unique feature over other digital assistants is that drivers can give the Intelligent Personal Assistant a name (for example, “Charlie” or “Joy”) to create even greater individuality and personality. Not only does the Intelligent Personal Assistant await the driver’s every command, it is always there to assist them and even provide casual conversation (“Hey BMW, what’s the meaning of life?”). Familiarisation with the vehicle’s functions will be learnt and the ability to operate them as required. Saying “Hey BMW, I’m cold” will prompt the BMW Intelligent Personal Assistant to adjust the temperature inside the car accordingly.
The arrival of the BMW Intelligent Personal Assistant ensures there is always a genuine BMW professional on board. This gives the ability to explain all sorts of different functions (“How does the High Beam Assistant work?”), provide current status information (“Is the oil level okay?”) and help answer questions (“What messages do I have?”).
The Intelligent Personal Assistant is, the ideal co-driver and comes in particularly useful during every day driving (“Hey BMW, look for the nearest fuel station on our route”). To make navigation particularly easy, drivers can allow access to their calendar and contacts, which will enable the assistant to find parking spaces at the destination, provide information on traffic jams along the route and remind the driver when they need to set off.
The assistant will benefit from constant technical upgrades and be able to learn more and more preferences and favoured settings. The assistant takes further strides forward with every command given, every question asked and every setting made.
BMW Digital Key: turning the smartphone into a car key
The BMW Digital Key employs Near Field Communication (NFC) technology to allow the new BMW 3 Series Saloon to be locked and unlocked from a smartphone. Holding the smartphone up to the door handle opens the car and, once inside, the engine can be started as soon as the phone has been placed in the wireless charging or smartphone tray. Accessible via the BMW Connected app, the Digital Key offers unrivalled flexibility as the driver can share it with up to five other people. The BMW Digital Key is available for NFC-capable Samsung Galaxy smartphones running Android 8.1 and above.
Connected Navigation offers a range of digital services to make route planning both in the car and away from it, much easier. With this new technology drivers can send destinations from various apps straight to their car’s navigation system and the most important destinations will be stored meaning important addresses can be accessed from any device at any time. A new feature is the Parking Space Assistant, which proposes various parking options to the driver in good time before the destination is reached. This service includes providing information on the nearest multi-storey car park as well as proposing routes offering a good chance of finding a parking spot close to the destination. The existing On-Street Parking Information has also been incorporated into the scope of functions that form Connected Navigation.
The BMW Operating System 7.0 display and control concept
The all-new instrument cluster and Control Display takes intuitive operation to the next level and is designed to help drivers concentrate on the road ahead. The BMW Live Cockpit Plus is standard on SE and Sport models and adds features such as a Touch Controller, a navigation system, two USB ports for data transfer and a WiFi interface. The control display is 8.8-inch and features a touchscreen, whilst the instrument cluster has a 5.7-inch colour display.
As part of BMW Live Cockpit Plus the new BMW 3 Series includes a host of connected Services as standard, Emergency Call, Teleservices, Over the air and USB map updates, BMW App connectivity and Intelligent Voice assistants. In addition to this we see the introduction of the BMW Connected Package Plus as standard. This features elements drivers are accustomed to, such as Remote Services, Real Time Traffic Information, but with the addition of Concierge Services and Apple CarPlay Preparation.
Apple CarPlay Preparation will now be standard on all new BMW 3 Series models. This service will be included for one year from build, but then renewable via the BMW ConnectedDrive portal thereafter, at either one year, three years or lifetime subscriptions.
The BMW Live Cockpit Professional is standard on M Sport models and includes an instrument cluster behind the steering wheel with a screen diagonal of 12.3 inches and a 10.25-inch Control Display. This equipment package also features an adaptive navigation system and a hard-drive-based multimedia system.
On the BMW Live Cockpit Professional the standard connectivity increases further, with the standard inclusion of BMW Connected Package Professional. This builds on the services offered in the BMW Connected Package and includes additional functionality including, BMW Intelligent Personal Assistant, On-Street Parking Information, Connected Navigation and Intelligent Vehicle Functionality, which learns drivers habits and learns rules.
BMW Live Cockpit Professional drivers get all the benefits of the new BMW Operating System 7.0. It is customisable to give personalised displays. In the main menu on the Control Display, the driver can configure up to ten pages, each showing two to four tiles with live content. Both the content and the graphics are personalised to an even greater degree – even the vehicle mock-up matches the actual model colour and equipment line. The Control Display graphics adapt depending on the operating method and the voice control system (based on natural language understanding) is better than ever before. The optional BMW gesture control now works with two extra gestures, bringing the total to seven.