The BMW 3 Series has been very popular, with 14 million cars sold since production began in 1975. During that time the model has defined the premium sports saloon segment with today around a quarter of all BMWs sold coming from the 3 Series range.
The new 3 Series Saloon and Touring models have seen a subtle change to their front and rear styling, with new materials and highlights introduced to the interior to even further boost the sporting yet comfortable ambience.
Design and equipment
The new BMW 3 Series has a strikingly attractive presence on the road. The distinctively sculpted long bonnet and setback passenger compartment combine with short front and rear overhangs, and a long wheelbase, to create the familiar dynamic proportions of a BMW. In its own way, these are as much a hallmark of a BMW as the perfect 50:50 weight distribution.
Revised headlights include optional LED units with LED indicators now positioned as “eyebrows” above the headlights. These full-LED headlights, which are even more efficient than the xenon headlights offered to date, work with the optional BMW Selective Beam system. The camera-based, anti-dazzle High Beam Assistant adjusts the car’s lights using actuators to ensure the road is illuminated as well as possible without dazzling oncoming traffic and vehicles travelling ahead.
At the front, broader side air intakes are integrated into the sculptural form of the bumpers. The new, more intricate structure of the central air intake also allows the radar sensor for the Active Cruise Control (ACC) to be housed more discreetly. At the rear, the new rear lights are full-LED units. The light bars, arranged in a distinctive BMW “L” shape, are more heavily curved, and the integrated LED brake lights now respond faster. The two-piece LED indicators form a horizontal band of light across both sections of the rear lights and stretch into the boot lid (or the tailgate on the BMW 3 Series Touring).
The driver focus inside the new BMW 3 Series is a signature BMW feature and provides optimum access to all the important functions. The outstanding ergonomics of the BMW 3 Series have been improved further still and in addition, carefully arranged chrome highlights and high-gloss surfaces give the interior an even classier look.
For example, areas such as the central control panel in the centre console are finished in high-gloss black, while chrome accents feature on the new controls for the electric seat adjustment, the electric window controls and the air vents. In Luxury, Sport or M Sport models, the accent strip in the instrument panel continues into all four doors. Other new features include cup holders in the centre console with a sliding cover and an additional practical storage area for items such as a smartphone, positioned forward of the cup holders.
Variety of models
Offered as an alternative to standard specification, the Sport and Luxury models place emphasis on different aspects of the new BMW 3 Series’ character. The M Sport model offers additional options designed to further increase road presence and driving enjoyment.
The Luxury and M Sport models can now also be specified as an option with the Ash Grain wood panel with metal inlay. Luxury models now come with the new bi-colour 18- inch light-alloy wheels in a multi-spoke design as standard. Among the features of the M Sport model are leather upholstery, the M aerodynamic package, an M leather steering wheel, M Sport suspension, front sports seats, the anthracite-coloured BMW Individual headliner and the Driving Experience Control switch with additional Sport+ mode.
Overall, customers can choose from a total of 16 exterior colours, with new additions to the range including Mediterranean Blue metallic, Platinum Silver metallic and Jatoba metallic in addition to the Individual colour Champagne Quartz metallic. The Estoril Blue metallic shade is still reserved exclusively for M Sport models.
The BMW M3 also gains the new full-LED rear lights and updates to the interior. The latest-generation Professional Navigation system with LTE – the fastest mobile standard currently available – is standard for this model, while two new BMW Individual exterior colour shades (Smoked Topaz metallic and Champagne Quartz metallic) are available in addition to the exclusive Tanzanite Blue metallic and Azurite Schwarz metallic BMW Individual paint finishes.
The new BMW 3 Series Saloon and Touring ranges feature a total of four petrol engines and seven diesel engines. All the three-, four- and six-cylinder petrol engines, and the four-cylinder diesel units in the BMW 316d, BMW 318d and BMW 320d, are now sourced from the newly developed, modular BMW EfficientDynamics engine family and are equipped with the latest BMW TwinPower Turbo technology, which combines exceptional performance with excellent fuel efficiency.
Engine technology: rapid responses and EU6-compliant.
All members of the new modular engine family share a common design blueprint, with an in-line cylinder arrangement, a displacement per cylinder of 500 cc and very lightweight, thermally optimised all-aluminium construction. The crankcase is very rigid due to its closed-deck design – which means that the cylinder water jacket is closed at the top – while thermally joined, high- strength cylinder liners with twin-wire, arc-sprayed coating save weight and reduce internal friction.
The three- and four-cylinder engines have balancer shafts for smooth performance throughout the engine speed range. Their modular design is also reflected in standardised interfaces for the engine mounts and the connections to the cooling system, intake and exhaust systems as well as the heating and air conditioning systems.
All the petrol engines in the new BMW 3 Series Saloon and Touring models feature an exhaust-manifold-integrated turbocharger. That means the exhaust gases have only a short distance to travel to the turbocharger system, resulting in very rapid responses to the throttle. On the BMW 320d, further improvements have been achieved by using anti- friction bearings instead of plain bearings. At the same time the system’s significantly reduced internal friction is beneficial even during the very short warm-up phase, resulting in substantially reduced cold-start fuel consumption. The close-coupled catalytic converter and the electrically operated boost pressure control valve (wastegate) further improve the emissions performance of the petrol engines.
All the engines in the new BMW EfficientDynamics engine family are equipped with the latest generation of BMW’s innovative TwinPower Turbo technology, which in the case of the petrol engines feature TwinScroll turbocharging, High Precision Injection and Double-VANOS variable camshaft timing, plus VALVETRONIC fully variable valve timing.
The BMW TwinPower Turbo technology for the diesel engines comprises VNT turbocharging (twin-turbocharging on the BMW 335d) and the latest-generation of common rail direct injection, which with maximum injection pressures of 2,000 bar helps reduce fuel consumption and emissions.
Four-cylinder performance: three-cylinder fuel consumption
The entry-level engine in the new BMW 3 Series Saloon and Touring ranges offers typically strong performance. The new BMW 318i, which replaces the previous BMW 316i, is the first BMW of this size to be fitted with the new three-cylinder petrol engine. Among the highlights of this engine are its compact dimensions and low weight, excellent performance and efficiency and typical three- cylinder qualities such as sharp responses, a willingness to rev and a sporty engine sound. A further advantage of the new three-cylinder engine is its good vibration characteristics: like a six-cylinder in-line engine, it generates no first- and second-order inertia forces. At the same time, a balancer shaft counteracts engine roll torque for impeccable refinement throughout the engine speed range.
This new engine delivers maximum power of 136hp from a displacement of just 1.5-litres and has a peak torque of 220 Nm. For short periods this can be increased to 230 Nm by using the overboost function that is activated by kickdown. With the six-speed manual gearbox, the BMW 318i accelerates from 0-62mph in just 8.9 seconds on the way to a top speed of 130mph. Despite this dynamic performance, however, the CO2 emissions stand at just 122 g/km (with eight-speed Steptronic transmission), a 12 per cent improvement over the previous BMW 316i. Fuel consumption is equally impressive, with the Saloon returning up to 54.3mpg and the Touring 51.4mpg.
Also making its debut in the new BMW 3 Series is a new 2.0-litre four-cylinder in-line engine available in two different states of tune. Fitted in the new BMW 320i Saloon and Touring models, it develops a maximum output of 184hp between and a maximum torque of 290 Nm with six-speed manual gearbox and rear-wheel drive. This is combined with CO2 emissions of up to134g/km and fuel consumption as low as 48.7mpg.
In the new BMW 330i, the successor to the previous BMW 328i, it generates 252hp and 350 Nm torque. This gives the new BMW 330i Saloon with eight- speed Steptronic transmission a 0–62mph sprint time of 5.8 seconds (Touring: 5.9 seconds) and a top speed of 155mph in both Saloon and Touring models. Nevertheless, the CO2 emissions of the BMW 330i Saloon has fallen compared with the previous model by 8 per cent to 136g/km, and the combined fuel consumption now stands at 48.7 mpg.
Dynamic new six-cylinder petrol engine
The new BMW 3 Series also sees the world debut of the all-new six-cylinder engine from the latest modular BMW EfficientDynamics engine family. This new BMW 340i, available in Saloon and Touring variants, effectively replaces the previous 335i. It’s a light but rigid all-aluminium unit with BMW TwinPower Turbo technology, and with a displacement of three-litres, it develops a maximum power of 326hp, a 20hp improvement over the previous model. Peak torque is an impressive 450 Nm. The new BMW 340i Saloon with the standard-fit eight-speed Steptronic transmission goes from 0-62mph in just 5.1 seconds, with a governed top speed of 155mph. And although it offers significantly more power and superior torque up by 50 Nm compared to before, CO2 emissions are 7 per cent down on the old 335i Saloon at 159g/km (Touring 164g/km). The combined fuel consumption is as low as 41.5mpg.
The diesel engines: strength with frugal fuel consumption
Big efficiency improvements have also been achieved on the optimised four-cylinder diesel units, which belong to the same new modular family as the petrol engines. The latest improvements are down to BMW TwinPower Turbo technology, with VNT turbocharging and high-pressure common rail direct injection. For example, the 116hp BMW 316d Saloon returns up to 68.9mpg, with CO2 emissions of only 109g/km.
The output of the new BMW 320d has risen beyond that of its predecessor model (up from 184hp to 190hp) and CO2 emissions have been reduced by 6 per cent. With its powerful torque of 400 Nm, the new BMW 320d Saloon with eight-speed Steptronic transmission returns a 0–62 mph time of 7.2 seconds, two tenths of a second less than the previous BMW 320d Saloon. The new BMW 320d achieves a top speed of 143mph, but generates CO2 emissions of just 111g/km.
New manual and automatic transmissions
The new BMW 3 Series Saloon and new BMW 3 Series Touring can be fitted with a six-speed manual transmission or eight-speed Steptronic unit (standard on the BMW 330d, BMW 335d and BMW 340i Touring). The crisp-shifting six- speed manual transmission, featuring optimal ratio spacing, comes with a dual-mass flywheel with centrifugal pendulum absorbers. This technology, which made its world debut in a production-model 320d EfficientDynamics Edition, counteracts uneven running on high-torque engines so that drivers can change up smoothly and without any unpleasant booming noise even at low engine speeds – leading to a further reduction in fuel consumption and CO2 emissions. The six-speed manual transmission also comes with engagement speed control, which means the engine is automatically brought to the right rpm for the next gear when changing up or down.
The new eight-speed Steptronic transmission, like the six-speed unit, also plays an important part in reducing CO2 emissions. Its improved efficiency, wider gear spread and reduced torque converter slip during gearshifts reduce CO2 emissions by 3 per cent. At the same time, improved damping of engine irregularities makes for improved comfort and smoother shifting. In the Sport+ transmission mode, the software allows the driver to rev the engine right up to the rev limiter, and also to perform multiple sequential downshifts. For even greater control, the eight-speed Steptronic Sport transmission is available with steering wheel paddle shifters.
Further economy benefits are offered by the eight-speed Steptronic transmission’s coasting mode. When the driver lifts off the throttle at higher speeds, for example on a gentle downhill grade on the motorway, the engine is automatically decoupled from the powertrain. It then simply ticks over in neutral, which saves fuel and ensures there is no unwanted engine braking at high speed. An additional fuel-saving feature, which also improves driving comfort, is the new Proactive Driving Assistant, which uses information from the navigation system to “anticipate” upcoming roundabouts, corners and junctions and select exactly the right time to change gear.
xDrive: the Dynamic all-wheel drive system available as an option on many models
As an alternative to the classic BMW rear-wheel-drive set-up, the BMW 320i, 320d and 330d variants of the new BMW 3 Series model range can be ordered with BMW xDrive intelligent all-wheel drive. Thanks to its huge torque output, the BMW 335d is fitted with this technology as standard. BMW xDrive combines the customary advantages of all-wheel drive such as optimal power transfer to the road, excellent safety and maximum traction, with BMW’s typically agile and precise handling.
BMW 3 Series dynamics: typically agile yet comfortable suspension
The new BMW 3 Series Saloon and Touring models feature retuned – slightly stiffer - suspension and optimised steering that further improves their dynamic ability under all payload conditions. This is felt in their reduced body roll, excellent directional stability and steering precision, whether with the standard setup, or the M Sport suspension and adaptive suspension alternatives. The latter offers electronically controlled dampers and allows individual adjustment of the car’s dynamic responses at the touch of a button. Continuous sensor monitoring of longitudinal and lateral acceleration, speed and steering angle allows the damping to be optimally matched to road characteristics and the driving situation. Rear-wheel-drive variants also feature a 10-millimetre drop in ride height. Drivers can use the Driving Experience Control switch to choose between a more comfort-biased setting or more sporting characteristics at any time.
BMW EfficientDynamics: Superb performance, exceptionally low fuel consumption
The new BMW 3 Series Saloon and new BMW 3 Series Touring models combine their exciting performance with excellent fuel economy – a combination achieved with the help of the trailblazing BMW EfficientDynamics technologies. New, more fuel-efficient petrol and diesel engines are mated with further improved manual and automatic transmissions, Auto Start Stop, Brake Energy Regeneration, the ECO PRO mode and the on-demand operation of ancillary units. The latter includes the on-demand coolant pump, electronically controlled oil pump and electromechanical power steering that consumes no electrical power when steering straight ahead. Also, whenever the air conditioning is not being used, its compressor is automatically disconnected.
BMW 320d EfficientDynamics Plus: the clear efficiency leader
The fuel-saving potential of BMW EfficientDynamics is reflected most clearly in the new BMW 320d EfficientDynamics Plus Saloon and Touring models, which offer up to 74.3mpg fuel consumption and CO2 emissions as low as 99km. These models are powered by a modified 2.0-litre turbodiesel engine developing maximum power of 163hp and maximum torque of 400 Nm. They feature an optimised transmission configuration, modified gear shift indicator (on models with a six-speed manual transmission), low-rolling resistance tyres, a partially masked kidney grille and lowered ride height. The 320d EfficientDynamics Plus models also offer a high level of standard specification including Business Navigation, leather upholstery and heated seats.
*The 330e: a Plug-in hybrid with CO 2 emissions of just 49g/km
The new BMW 330e will offer a startling combined fuel consumption of 134.5mpg and CO2 emissions of 49g/km when it joins the range in 2016. Its state-of-the-art plug-in hybrid technology combines a 184hp 2.0-litre petrol engine with an 80 kW electric motor. The combined output of 252hp and combined maximum torque of 420 Nm (provisional figures) give the BMW 330e a 0-62mph acceleration time of just 6.3 seconds and a top speed of 140mph. This model is also capable of travelling up to approximately 22-miles in all-electric mode, and therefore emits zero local emissions when used in this manner.
BMW ConnectedDrive: Optimum connectivity and intelligent driver assistance systems.
With yet more new functions added to the unrivalled combination of mobility services and driver assistance systems, BMW ConnectedDrive is once again pioneering new technology to enhance safety, comfort and infotainment.
Business Navigation is now standard on all BMW 3 Series Saloon and Touring models.
The optional latest-generation Professional Navigation system boasts quicker start-up, even faster route calculation along with more realistic 3D visualisation in cities. The navigation system is also adaptive, so that when the driver deliberately deviates from a suggested route several times the system will start to propose the new “learned” route as the standard one for reaching the selected destination. Automatic map updating (which is free of charge for the first three years) and the ConnectedDrive Services enable individual regions of the navigation map to be updated wirelessly over the air by means of the vehicle’s integrated SIM card. This is carried out in the background while in the home region.
The new BMW 3 Series is also the first car in its segment to support LTE – the fastest mobile standard currently available – when fitted with the Professional Navigation system and the extended smartphone connectivity option. This greatly improves network coverage and data transmission speeds, especially in rural areas.
Intelligent Emergency Call, another standard feature in the BMW 3 Series, detects if the airbags are triggered in an accident, and then uses the built-in SIM card to automatically transmit the severity of the accident, the potential risk of injury to the occupants and the vehicle’s location to the BMW Call Centre. The manual emergency call function, meanwhile, allows rapid help to be summoned for other road users in emergency situations.
Head-Up Display: information in the driver’s immediate field of view
A full-colour, high-resolution Head-Up Display is available as an option. All relevant information, such as speed, navigation instructions, speed limits and overtaking bans, appears in an optimum position in the driver’s field of view. The safety information from the Driving Assistant package (Collision Warning with City Braking function, Pedestrian Warning with City Braking function, Attentiveness Assistant, plus Lane Departure Warning) as well as information relating to telephone and media operation is also shown in the Head-Up Display.
Parking Assistant for parallel and transverse parking
The Parking Assistant in the new BMW 3 Series helps the driver to park in both parallel spaces and spaces that are perpendicular to the road. At speeds below approximately 22mph, ultrasonic sensors measure potential parking spaces, which are then shown in the central information display. If the driver now activates the Parking Assistant, the car will steer itself into the space while the driver merely has to control the accelerator and brake or switch between forward and reverse gear when prompted. The Parking Assistant also includes the new Auto PDC function, which allows the Park Distance Control to switch on automatically when approaching an object at the front and display the remaining distance. When traffic jam situations with stop-start traffic are detected, the Auto PDC function is deactivated.
The new BMW 3 Series Saloon and Touring models go on sale in July. Prices will be announced at a later date so keep your eye out.