The 2019 BMW 3 Series is the seventh-generation of what is now a mid-sized sedan. I say mid-size but the 3 is now 76mm longer at 4.7 metres. BMW Australia has launched the new 3 Series era with two specifications packed with tons of new tech and updated engines.
Codenamed G20 for the BMW numbers fans, it’s a hugely important car for the brand. While the 1 Series is cheaper, the 3 will be the smallest rear-wheel drive passenger car after the demise of the current entry-level BMW and its switch to the UKL2 front-wheel drive platform.
Well, that’s why it’s important for car people. Despite the hugely successful SUV range, people still see the 3 as the BMW.
|BMW 320d 2019||$67,900||2.0-litre twin turbo diesel four-cylinder|
|BMW 330i 2019||$70,900||2.0-litre turbo petrol four-cylinder|
Look and Feel
The new car’s profile is quite similar to the old one’s, with a longer look because it’s, er, longer. Move around to the front and BMW’s ongoing kidney grille futzing has produced a one piece unit. The new lights are a gentle evolution of not just the old 3’s, but the general BMW sedan vibe. Nope, it’s not adventurous but a mainline model like the 3 can’t be a whacky funster.
This car strikes me as a little more elegant than the machine it replaces, at least in profile. I’m still not sure about the front end, but I do like the new air curtains at each side of the front bumper. I don’t really like the way the bumper cuts into the lights, but I have not seen the car in the flesh – yet. Those new headlights with the big notch are Adaptive LEDs with auto high beam.
I’m very much on board with the rear end. The lights look terrific and the whole approach makes the 3 look bigger and more expensive. I like the latest version of the hockey stick in the lights and it really works, very distinctive.
Inside is a big jump from the old car. The previous design was very familiar from well over a decade of evolution from the E9x. The iterative design was good, very functional, but Mercedes and Audi had passed it by in various other models.
In these launch cars you get the new 12.3-inch digital dash already in the X5 and it’s a doozy. BMW has taken its own path for its look and I like it. A lot. You’re going to see a lot more of it and BMWs in the coming years. BMW calls the dash Live Cockpit Professional and Bavaria has finally broken and made the media screen a touchscreen.
Paired with that screen is the new iDrive screen which in these cars is set at 10.25-inch, which is a monster. BMW’s Operating System 7.0 makes its debut in the 3 Series, with the usual iDrive controller on the console but now with natural language support and Intelligent Personal Assistant (“Hey, BMW, I’m hungry! Hey, BMW, take me home! Hey BMW, teach me some manners!).
And it has wireless Apple CarPlay and wireless charging, which is brilliant.
Both cars also get a new head-up display which BMW says is 70 percent larger.
BMW reckons the interior materials are significantly better than before, which is a direct response to criticisms about the older car. It never felt cheap, but the A4 and C felt more expensive (to be fair, the latter is a lot more expensive).
It’s also quite a bit bigger inside – the wheelbase has stretched by 41mm and the car is 16mm wider. A longer wheelbase means a bigger cabin, with the boot staying the same at a suspicious 480 litres (C and A4 are identical, so it could be bigger).
BMW 320d 2019 – $67,900 + ORC
The entry-level 3 Series (for the moment at least) is the 140kW 320d.
The basic car comes standard with the M Sport package but you can choose the Luxury Line option at no extra cost.
M Sport versions have black exterior trim bits, M aero package, 18-inch M light alloy wheels, interior headliner in anthracite, M leather steering wheel, aluminium interior trim pieces, fake leather (Sensatec) and Alcantara upholstery.
Luxury Line means Vernasca leather, ash grey high gloss, sport leather steering wheel, sport front seats and 18-inch alloys.
BMW 330i 2019 – $70,500 + ORC
The 330i builds on the 320d’s spec with 19-inch alloys, M Sport brakes, additional safety features (see below) and keyless entry and start.
You also get a suspension upgrade to Adaptive M Dynamics adaptive dampers.
It’s quite a lot of stuff for the extra $2600.
Because they all come with M Sport (unless you buck the trend and go for the Luxury Line), there’s an M Sport Plus package for $2990 (320d) or $2600 on the 330i.
This adds M Sport seatbelts and M Rear Spoiler. On the 320d you get the 19-inch alloys already on the 330i while the 330i itself scores a tricky M Sport differential. If you can afford it and don’t tick this box on the 330i, I don’t think we can be friends. I’m sorry, I don’t make the rules.
The Visibility Package adds metallic paint, laser headlights, sunroof and ambient lighting for $5070 (ouch).
The Comfort package puts lumbar support and heating on the front seats, electrifies the boot lid and keyless entry and start on the 320d for $2600. The 330i already has that last bit, so the pack is $1820.
And finally, the $3120 Driver Assistance Package for the 320d adds Parking Assistant Plus, Drive Assistant Professional and Tyre Pressure monitor. Or you can just buy the 330i and be done with it.
|320d||2.0-litre twin turbo four-cylinder diesel||140kW||400Nm||6.8||4.5L/100km|
|330i||2.0-litre turbo four-cylinder||190kW||400Nm||5.8||6.4L/100km|
From launch, you’ll have a choice of two. Don’t panic, there are more coming. Looking at these engines, it’s pretty obvious they’re the ones that will give the G20 3 Series a flying sales start. The 330i was far and away the big seller of the preceding generation, with the M Sport pack taking up 75 percent of 330i sales.
The 320d opens the range with a 2.0-litre four-cylinder twin-turbo diesel serving up 140kW and a stonking 400Nm. To clear any confusion, there are two turbos. The first is a small, fixed-vane turbo. This one gets going at low revs while the larger, variable vane turbo spins up. BMW says the larger one is low pressure, so some markets will probably get some gruntier
You’ll crack the ton in 6.8 seconds and, according to official figures, burn 4.5L/100km on the combined cycle.
The petrol 330i is roughly the same as the outgoing car – a 2.0-litre turbo four with 190kW and 400Nm, which is a cracking figure for a turbo petrol. The 2.0-litre is the modular four used across the BMW and Mini range.
0-100km/h (0-62mph) is a quick 5.8 seconds and BMW reckons you’ll see a fuel economy figure of somewhere around 6.4L/100km. If your mum is driving. Unless your mum drives like I do.
They’re both rear-wheel drive as is only right and proper, with the eight-speed ZF making yet another appearance.
Chassis and Aero
BMW says the new car is up to 55kg lighter than before while body rigidity is up by 25 percent overall and in some areas 50 percent. A tighter shell means better suspension performance, so that’s a good start.
Front and rear tracks are both wider, too – you can really see that when you look at the car front on.
BMW has fitted lift-related damping that is supposed to deliver variable damping depending on spring travel. With a stiffer shell, the 20 percent stiff springs work in concert with damping hydraulics at the front and compression-limiting at the rear.
Step up to the 330i and you get the adaptive dampers, which lowers the car by 10mm and you get drive mode select as a result. You also get M Sport brakes with the blue calipers, with four-pistons up front.
The 330i M Sport Plus Pack get you a electronic limited-slip differential. Get it if you can because an LSD is never not a good idea.
As usual, the 3 Series has a 50:50 weight distribution.
In its slipperiest specification, the 3 has a drag co-efficient of just 0.23 but doesn’t look stupid doing it. Quite impressive.
The 2019 3 Series has a pretty decent safety stack:
Lane departure warning
Blind spot monitoring
Rear-cross traffic alert
Speed limit sign recognition
Rear collision prevention
You also get a reversing camera with rear parking sensors. No doubt a five star ANCAP safety rating is on the way.
The 330i picks up these extra features, which are available as the Driving Assistant Professional package on the 320d:
Steering and Lane Control Assistant
Emergency Stop Assistant
Automatic Speed Limit Assistant
Lane keep assist with active side collision protection
Front cross traffic warning
Crossroads warning with city braking function
Wrong way warning.
Redline Recommendation – 3 Series 2019
Oh, this is easy – 330i with M Sport Plus. That might be cracking on to $75,000 but it’s a fast four-door loaded with some cool tech. BMW is keen to sell cars, so twist your dealer’s arm and you’ll get yourself a deal.
Those who have driven the new 3 say it’s a “return to form” as though the old car were somehow fundamentally flawed, so it must be a cracker. We’ll find out soon.
This is just the start. Later in the year we’ll see the 340i M Performance xDrive and then sometime soon – I hope – the new M3/M4 pairing, rumoured to have around 370kW (500PS). Some reports are say we’ll see the M cars at the Frankfurt Show in September.
Peter Anderson is the Editor and founder of the theredline.com.au. He’s been writing about cars for years and finds it difficult to talk about anything else.