Few cars are as multifaceted as the BMW 3-Series. From being a proper premium sedan to being a driver’s delight, the 3-Series has always stood out as an exceptional sporting saloon. It pioneered a segment and mastered it with every new generation. The 7th generation model comes at a time when the competition is fierce and the automotive scene is shifting towards green power and higher dependence on technology.
The new 3-Series looks like a compact sedan it ought to. The long bonnet and stubby rear result in a well-proportioned design. The headlights have a kink in them at the centre which merges in the bumper.
This divides the headlight piece into two, giving it a distinct appearance. The headlights seem to be inspired from the E46 3-Series. The sculpted bumpers and the creases on the bonnet make the front look quite imposing. The typical low-slung profile makes the 3-Series quite sporty.
The side has a sharp crease in the bottom and a prominent line in the lower half. Both the elements play well with reflections, aiding to the athletic look of the 3-Series. The sedan comes with Sport, Luxury and M-Sport trim options, each with their own individual design features.
The Sport Line is relatively basic, the Luxury Line adds more chrome and an elegant set of 17-inch alloys while the M-Sport adopts a racier approach with sharper bumpers and more attractive 18-inch wheels. The rear is minimalistic in comparison but the squarish taillights with angular L-shaped LEDs definitely look the part. In conclusion, we think the 3-Series is one of the better-looking sedans in the market today.
The interiors of the 3-Series are reminiscent to the Z4 and a lot of newer BMWs like the X5 and X7. The iDrive infotainment system takes the centre stage with either an 8.8-inch screen or, with the optional BMW Live Cockpit Plus, a 10.25-inch infotainment system. The infotainment screen can be operated via touch, gesture or with the iDrive controller.
The infotainment system, needless to say, is superb in its operation. The screen has a fantastic resolution and is responsive to operate. There is also a 5.7-inch all-digital instrument cluster with equally compelling graphics. BMW says that the instrument cluster and the infotainment system are designed to put the driver at ease. Not only do they get customisable graphics and legible fonts but also, the infotainment screen is angled towards the driver, making the operation easier.
The front seats are superbly supportive and comfortable. BMW offers high-quality leather that also adds to the comfort quotient. Space is ample but the seating is a little low. Getting in and out is not very easy, thanks to the low-profile. This is particularly felt at the rear. But once inside, you’ll be pleased with how well BMW has carved the space despite the compact footprint. There is good headroom and legroom.
BMW has added an extra 11-millimetres between the front and the rear seats allowing more leg space. Shoulder room is sufficient but three people may not be very comfortable. Space is not in the same league as the Skoda Superb or Honda Accord but that is only expected. We will still say that it is a big improvement over the last generation.
There are sufficient features to justify the premium tag. Standard equipment includes two-zone climate control, ambient lighting, electric front seat adjustment, Apple CarPlay & Android Auto compatibility, sunroof as a part of the standard equipment. BMW is also offering a variety of interior trim and upholstery options.
BMW is offering the 3-Series in India with two engine options – the 320d and the 330i, we have tested the Former which is powered by a 2.0-litre, 4-cylinder engine that produces 190 HP of power and 400 Nm of torque. Claimed 0-100 km/hr comes up in a quick 6.8 seconds, top speed being limited to 243 km/hr.
The car is supremely refined and although the motor is turbocharged, the technology ensures you have no lag lower down, yes, that is how good the low-end performance is. But it’s really the mid-range which is the strong suit of the Diesel 3-Series as it feels really punchy there while it screams to the redline. it just doesn’t rev as fast in the last 1000 RPM which is actually a good thing as it lets you relish the top-end. The motor becomes vocal in a very good way post 4000 RPM.
The 7th generation BMW 3-Series is bigger in every dimension and also has a longer wheelbase, yet there has been a weight reduction of up to 55 kgs. The chassis and various underpinnings have been stiffened by 25 to 50% while the track is wider on both ends, the car also has a 50:50 weight distribution. Naturally, the handling is the highlight here as the car performs brilliantly through the corners, it offers low body roll, great composure and acres of grip too. Traction control can be completely turned off which makes the 3-Series very tail-happy. The steering is light at low speeds but becomes staggeringly quick as the speeds increase, it offers great feel and feedback at high speeds but it’s as agile at lower speeds.
It is genuinely hard to fault the 3-Series in key areas and it is too good to complain in the secondary. It is rare to find a car so complete and so accomplished. When we started, we had great expectations, but the new 3-Series surpassed those too! It is grown up in areas like technology, space, comfort, efficiency and yet it feels every bit a driver’s car it ought to. We particularly loved the performance and were amazed by the driving dynamics. Normally, with every successive generation, we see a car getting softer and milder. We find solace in the fact that the new 3-Series does not follow that trend. BMW has ticked all the boxes and then some more. It is a car that once again sets the benchmark high for others to follow. It is a big thumbs-up from our side!