The much anticipated and talked about BMW 3 Series sedan has been launched in South Africa and, besides being a new car, is the first fully imported ‘3’ since the Rosslyn, Pretoria factory switched to manufacturing the X3.
It is also a milestone achievement for the car that has been around now for more than 40 years – the first iteration having been launched back in 1975 – yet, in that time, has actually had only six model generations.
As the core of the 3 Series range, the sedan has notched up some 15-million unit sales worldwide since launch and remains the sports sedan many other marques aspire to being.
The world premiere of the new BMW 3 Series Sedan was hosted by the Mondial de l’Automobile show in Paris in October 2018. This first public presentation of the new 3 Series is currently underway with the global market launch of the car taking place this month.
The exterior design of the new BMW 3 Series Sedan uses a combination of lines and contoured surfaces to create a modern interpretation of the sporting aesthetic. Its new design language provides a clear showcase for the dynamic character of the car.
The new 3 Series Sedan is 76 millimetres longer than its predecessor (at 4 709 mm), 16 millimetres wider (1 827 mm) and just 1 mm taller (1 442 millimetres). The car’s 41-millimetre longer wheelbase (2 851 mm) and increased track widths (front: + 43 mm, rear: 21 mm), meanwhile, have a direct and positive influence on its poise and agility.
The large BMW kidney grille elements are framed by a single surround and split up by wide bars and link to the headlight units. Full-LED headlights and U-shaped daytime driving lights come as standard.
Another feature treated to a new look 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.
The T-shaped trim elements in the outer edges of the rear apron – that also include a light function in the form of reflectors – mimic the design of the front air intakes on cars with standard specification and on Sport Line and Luxury Line models.
The exhaust system’s 80 or 90-millimetre (depending on the model variant) twin tailpipes also play a role in the car’s sporty appearance.
From launch, customers can choose from two non-metallic colours and 10 metallic shades for the exterior of their new BMW 3 Series Sedan, including the new Portimao Blue metallic and Vermont Bronze metallic. Also available is the BMW Individual paint finish Dravite Grey metallic, another new addition to the colour charts.
The instrument panel has a modern, light look and its horizontal lines, electroplated trim strips and contours extending into the doors also lend it a feeling of width and elegance.
The newly designed instrument cluster and Control Display form a large-surfaced screen grouping, while the controls not included in these units are clustered into clearly structured function panels.
In the centre of the instrument panel, the displays and buttons for the air-conditioning and the central air vents form a sharply designed unit, while the light functions are operated from 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, where the gearshift lever or newly designed selector lever is joined by the iDrive Controller and the buttons for the Driving Experience Control switch unit and electromechanical parking brake.
The range of standard and optional interior trim elements available for the instrument panel and centre console has been replaced almost in full.
The Sport Line model offers features including BMW Individual high-gloss Shadow Line trim for the side window surrounds, plus kidney grille bars and trim elements for the air intakes and rear apron in High-gloss Black.
The Sport Line’s interior, includes trim strips in High-gloss Black and sports seats for the driver and front passengeralong with Vernasca leather trim, Sensatec instrument panel and door trim and wood interior trim strips in high-gloss Ash.
The M Sport model variant features particularly large air intakes in the front end and an equally distinctive design for the side skirts and rear apron. These elements are joined by BMW Individual high-gloss Shadow Line trim, kidney grille bars in High-gloss Black, air intake trim in High-gloss Black and a rear diffuser in Dark Shadow.
Inside, it gets sports seats with M-specific upholstery, an M leather steering wheel, an anthracite-coloured BMW Individual headliner and interior trim strips in Aluminium Tetragon.
The upgraded four-cylinder engines form the basis for the 330i, BMW 320i and BMW 320d. A latest-generation six-cylinder in-line diesel engine powers the new BMW 330d Sedan. Over the course of the year, the line-up will expand further to include a BMW M Performance version with extremely sporty characteristics and the BMW 330e Sedan with the latest plug-in hybrid drive technology.
The engine in the new BMW 330i Sedan boasts numerous detail upgrades and this 2,0-litre, four-cylinder unit delivers maximum output of 190 kW between 5 000 r/min and 6 500 r/min, while peak torque of 400 Nm is available from 1 550 r/min to 4 400 r/min.
The 5 kW increase in output and the extra 50 Nm of torque compared with the predecessor engine are the result of the optimisation of the BMW TwinPower Turbo system – which comprises twin-scroll turbo-chargers, High Precision Injection direct petrol injection, VALVETRONIC fully variable valve timing and Double-VANOS variable camshaft timing.
BMW claims a combined fuel consumption of 6,1 l/100 km and CO2 figures between 139 und 132 g/kilometre. The engine’s emissions have also been further improved and the exhaust treatment system includes a particulate filter to reduce emissions of particulate matter.
The BMW 320i develops 135 kW at 6 500 r/min and generates maximum torque of 300 Nm, which is available between 1 350 r/min and 4 000 r/min. Optimisation of the base power unit, the injection system and the engine control system increase the engine’s efficiency.
The new BMW 320i Sedan consumption is 5,7 l/100 kilometres with corresponding CO2 figures of 129 g/kilometre*. The BMW 320i Sedan is also equipped with a particulate filter and meets the requirements of the Euro 6d-TEMP emissions standard.
The BMW 330d develops maximum output of 195 kW at 4 000 r/min and peak torque of 580 Nm between 1 600 r/min and 3 000 r/min. This latest version of the engine has a turbo-charger with variable intake geometry and common-rail direct injection featuring piezo injectors, which operate at a maximum pressure of 2 500 bar for extremely precise fuel metering.
Combined fuel consumption and emissions figures are 4,8 l/100 kilometres and 128 g/kilometre.
Systematic upgrades have also been made to the BMW TwinPower Turbo technology for the 2,0-litre, four-cylinder diesel engines in the BMW 320d. It now includes multi-stage turbo-charging, which brings increased efficiency across all engine speeds.
With maximum output of 140 kW at 4 000 r/min and peak torque of 400 Nm between 1 750 r/min and 2 500 r/min, the new diesel unit accelerates the BMW 320d Sedan from 0 to 100 km/h in 7,1 seconds (automatic: 6,8 seconds).
This is accompanied by average fuel consumption of 4,4 l/100 km plus CO2 emissions of 115 g/kilometre
In the third quarter of this year, the 3 Series range will welcome the BMW M340i xDrive Sedan. The new BMW M Performance model has a straight-six engine and produces maximum output of 275 kW and peak torque of 500 Nm.
All model variants of the new BMW 3 Series Sedan are equipped with the eight-speed Steptronic transmission as standard. The latest upgrade of this automatic transmission sees a wider gear spread (from 7.8 to 8.2 or 8.6 (BMW 330d) – and also increases internal efficiency and improves vibration suppression. It also has a new control unit and further enhanced gearshift dynamics. In addition to the optimised hydraulic control system, the shorter gearing for the lower ratios does most to boost the acceleration capability of the new BMW 3 Series Sedan.
The optional eight-speed Steptronic Sport transmission delivers even shorter shift times and a Launch Control function for highly dynamic, traction-optimised acceleration off the line. Shift paddles on the steering wheel allow manual intervention in the gear selection process.
Overall body rigidity is up by some 25%, rising to as much as 50%t in certain areas. The increased rigidity of the mountings enables the M Sport suspension and Adaptive M suspension to go about their work with even more of their natural flair, with an increase in the suspension spring rate of some 20% over the previous-generation BMW 3 Series Sedan.
In addition to these measures, new shock absorber technology has been developed for the new BMW 3 Series Sedan. Used for the first time in a BMW model, the lift-related dampers are part of the car’s standard chassis and make a major contribution to the balance and comfort.
The front axle features a hydraulically damped torque strut bearing, which eliminates vibration and oscillation. At the rear axle, extremely rigid control arms and axle subframes and the use of thrust arms for the body mounting ensure particularly precise wheel location.
The BMW 320i and BMW 320d are equipped as standard with 17-inch light-alloy wheels. All other model variants are supplied with 18-inch and 19-inch light-alloy wheels are optionally available, as are mixed-size tyres.
The functions provided by the Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) system include not only anti-lock braking and Dynamic Traction Control (DTC), but also a variety of stabilising functions and the Start-Off Assistant.
Also fitted as standard, Performance Control heightens the agility of the new BMW 3 Series Sedan by distributing the power to the rear wheels as the situation demands. In order to optimise directional stability during heavy braking on surfaces offering differing levels of grip for the right-hand and left-hand wheels, a steering impulse is applied to help the driver correct the car’s line.
Inside, newly designed standard seats offer greater long-distance comfort for the driver and front passenger, while the optional sports seats provide particularly good lateral support and have an even greater range of adjustment.
The new BMW 3 Series Sedan’s boot has a capacity of 480 litres and its new partitioning into primary luggage compartment and separate storage compartments has created an additional 36 litres of space for loading items of luggage.
The new BMW 3 Series Sedan comes as standard with a rain sensor, automatic headlight activation, a hands-free phone system and automatic climate control. There is also the option of three-zone automatic climate control with independent control of the temperature and ventilation settings both for the driver and front passenger side and the rear passenger compartment.
Making its debut in the new BMW 3 Series Sedan is the BMW Intelligent Personal Assistant, an intelligent, digital character that responds to the prompt “Hey BMW”. The range of functions and skills available will be constantly expanded as part of regular updates, which can be carried out seamlessly on a smartphone and in-car by Remote Software Upgrade.
The BMW Intelligent Personal Assistant learns routines and habits and is subsequently able to apply them in the appropriate context. He helps the driver, learns their preferences and is familiar with their favoured settings – eg 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 drivers can give him a name (for example, “Hey Charlie”) to lend even greater individuality and personality. He is familiar with the vehicle’s functions and is able 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.