BMW unveils new 7th-generation 3 Series in Paris
The seventh generation of BMW's most popular global vehicle, the 3 Series, has been unveiled with a new 3 Series Saloon at the Paris Motor Show. The new 3 Series is bigger, sports new design language, and will include a new plug-in hybrid iPerformance model as well as BMW's new personal assistant system.
The BMW 3 Series Saloon is the first of a full model line of 3 Series vehicles to be marketed starting in March of 2019. Making its debut in Paris, the 3 Series Saloon heralds the changes coming for the seventh-generation of the car. BMW calls the 3 Series Saloon the "core of [the] BMW 3 Series range."
The new Saloon is about 85 mm (3.3 inches) longer, 16 mm (0.6 inches) wider and 1 mm (0.03 inches) taller. This makes the new car longer and wider than its predecessor without adding much height; a big part of its new design language. The wheelbase for the new car is 41 mm (1.6 inches) longer than the outgoing car, keeping its general side view proportions intact.
For the onlooker, most of the design changes for the new 3 Series Saloon are seen in its revised front fascia and simpler body contours. The 3 Series being shown in Paris has a slightly wider-appearing grille (still in the BMW kidney shape), thinner headlamps, and stronger hood lines running up from the fascia to the windscreen. The intakes below the bumper line are less angular and more pronounced.
The look of the 3 Series continues its evolution, but is unmistakably a part of the BMW line in overall proportions and design. The strong hood lines push the eye towards the fenders and roof line while the body's lines are more subtle about pushing the car forward, a slight curve helping create movement.
For the new 3 Series Saloon (and, we assume, all 3 Series cars), BMW has increased the amount of standard equipment to be found on base models. Now-standard features include LED headlights, interior ambient lighting with eleven color settings, a backup camera with "reversing assistant" radar, electric-fold side mirrors, three-zone climate, and acoustic sound dampening glazing on the forward glass. Technology includes BMW's Live Cockpit Plus on an 8.8-inch instrument cluster. This upgrades to a large 12.3-inch digital cluster in other trim levels or packages.
BMW is promising upgraded four-cylinder engines in the new 3 Series for the 330i and 320d gasoline and diesel models. A new-generation six-speed manual gearbox is also in the offing, alongside an eight-speed automatic option. Both rear-wheel and all-wheel drive will be offered for the new 3 Series, including the diesel model.
Diesel engines see upgrades to turbocharging, with the 2.0-liter four-cylinder turbodiesel having multi-stage turbocharging for increased efficiency. Output is 190 horsepower (142 kW) and 295 pound-feet (400 Nm) of torque. BMW says the 320d will accelerate to 62 mph (100 km/h) in 7.1 seconds with the manual transmission and 6.8 seconds with the automatic. The numbers add about a tenth when xDrive (AWD) is added. Fuel economy will be rated at and average consumption of 64.2 mpg in the manual and 67.3 mpg in the automatic (3.66 and 3.49 l/100km).
The 330i model will remain largely unchanged in its engine power output, though the new car's design and transmissions do change quickness and fuel economy. The 330i outputs 258 horsepower (192 kW) and 295 lb-ft of torque. 0-62 mph acceleration is said to be 5.8 seconds and average fuel consumption is 48.7 mpg (4.8 l/100km).
Going with the drivetrain changes for the new BMW 3 Series are chassis changes to accommodate the longer wheelbase and wider track. Lift-related dampers have been added to the new 3 Series (a first for BMW) as part of the standard chassis in order to add balance and agility to the car. Body rigidity has increased by about 25 percent in the new design, and suspension spring rates are now 20 percent improved over the previous-generation 3 Series. The new car is 121 lb (55 kg) lighter than the outgoing generation. Much of this weight loss is due to increased use of aluminum in the bodywork and chassis.
M Sport models of the new 3 Series will include several innovations from BMW. The standard M Sport suspension will be tuned for more spirited driving, as usual, with a new Adaptive M suspension being offered as an upgrade. This system adapts the vehicle's dynamics to the driving style or specific request of the driver. M Sport models also upgrade to 18-inch alloy wheels (from the 17-inch standard) and high performance tires. M Sport-specific brakes are also optional.
Inside the new seventh-generation BMW 3 Series, the larger vehicle size means more room in the cabin. BMW says that the new car offers about half an inch (11 mm) of extension for rear seat legroom. The rear doors have higher aperture heights for easier entry and exit and three child seat positions are available in the back seat. The back seat is now a 40:20:40 split-fold as standard for the 3 Series.
Front seating is restyled for better comfort with optional M Sport seating for those models having more robust adjustment options and standard seat heating. M Sport models have a new Vernasca leather upholstery as standard, available in four different colors. The electric glass sunroof, now 3.9 inches (100 mm) longer, features a motorized liner cover and roof opening mechanism.
Behind the seats, the trunk (boot) offers 16.9 cubic feet (480 liters) of space. A secondary compartment below offers an additional 1.27 cubic feet (36 liters) of additional space. An automatic tailgate/trunk lid and retractable towbar are optional offerings. With some additional options, the car can automatic lock and unlock according to the proximity of the keyfob, including hands-free trunk opening/closing. The key has a movement sensor to monitor if it's moving, shutting down the key if it's stationary as a means of saving battery life.
Standard driver's aids include rain-sensing wipers, automatic headlights, Bluetooth hands-free phone connections, automatic climate controls, and BMW's Active Guard Plus. AGP give speed limit information, lane departure warning and forward collision warning with pedestrian detection. These can be upgraded with package options for the BMW 3 Series.
New for the new BMW 3 Series is the company's Intelligent Personal Assistant option. This "intelligent, digital character" responds to commands starting with the prompt "Hey, BMW." Working in a way similar to that of the Google Home or Amazon Alexa devices, the IPA can also learn routines and habits, including common drive routes, climate control preferences, and more. The "BMW" name can be changed for the assistant to anything the driver would prefer and normal human language can be used for commands.
Also new is BMW Digital Key which allows a smartphone to be used as the car's key. Using Near Field Communications, the vehicle can be locked and unlocked from a smartphone without an internet connection. With the phone placed in the wireless charging smartphone tray, the vehicle can be started and driven. Keys can be digitally shared, temporarily, with up to five other people to allow others access to the BMW 3 Series. Digital Key is currently limited to the Samsung Galaxy smartphone with NFC and Android 8.1 or above. BMW has not said whether this will be expanded to other devices.
Infotainment in the new BMW 3 Series will debut with BMW's latest operating system, 7.0, for the instrument cluster and infotainment screen. Connected services are standard in models with Live Cockpit Plus. This includes remote services, real-time traffic information, and concierge services.
Standard connectivity increases further with the addition of Live Cockpit Professional for M Sport models. Added as standard, this feature adds BMW Intelligent Personal Assistant (an upgrade option on other models), street-level parking information, connected navigation, and Intelligent Vehicle Functionality. Most of these services can work in conjunction with a smartphone running the BMW app. The IVF function learns driving habits and road rules to adapt the car's functionality to them.
The new BMW 3 Series will debut with the 330i gasoline and 320d diesel models in March of 2019 with a starting price of US$43,670 in European markets. Other models will follow.