4 April 2019

BMW 3 Series Review

The first thing you notice about this seventh generation 3 Series is that it’s considerably larger than its predecessor – 15mm broader, 13mm taller and 89mm longer.


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BMW 3 Series Sedan 2019
BMW 3-Series 2019
BMW 3 Series Sedan 2019
BMW 3-Series 2019
BMW 3 Series Sedan 2019
BMW 3-Series 2019
BMW 3 Series Sedan 2019
BMW 3-Series 2019
BMW 3 Series Sedan 2019

Seems it’s grown more in the last seven or eight years than in the 36 years before that, and indeed it’s now wider, higher, and sports a longer wheelbase than the 5 Series which departed in 2003. Whether that growth was made to please markets like China, or simply because there are more smaller BMWs to choose from now, we don’t know.

It’s certainly a looker, with a more assertive face via a larger kidney grille and alterations to the headlights. The altered proportions impart a sense of speed to this 320d Sport, further enhanced by the M Aerodynamics package including front and rear bumper trims and side sills. That’s standard kit for this model designation, as are the sports seats, but the M seatbelts are one of 10 options fitted which together boost this car’s price by $8600, to $86,100.

One of those options is the Comfort Access System ($1000), which includes a digital key that can operate via your cell phone.

Yes, you get a standard key, with keyless remote access. But you also get a card the size and shape of a credit card that will slot in your wallet, and which unlocks the car by touching it to the driver door handle. That card is likely to be saved for when your car goes off for a service or valet clean, for your late-model Samsung phone is then also activated as a key, albeit one which will only open the driver door with a touch.

BMW reckons business buyers rarely without their phone will love it, we reckon anyone who carries passengers or regularly approaches their car with their hands full will prefer the standard key and won’t bother with the extra cost. Time will tell!

A 2.0-litre diesel to propel a car like this would once have seemed a joke. No longer, especially since despite the increased size, this all-new car has dropped 55kg, and fields an eight-speed gearbox to ensure efficiency – both at delivering power, and acceptable fuel economy. 

There’s no shortage of executive sedans claiming speed, but arguably few so well tuned for decent handling on real-world roads.

The suspension uses BMW’s new ‘lift-related’ set-up designed to prevent the suspension hitting the stops on the upward movement, and assisting it on the down. It’s like putting dampers on your dampers to deal with the extremes you’ll meet on public roads, and though ride remained a little firm for our tastes, even in Comfort mode, the system definitely comes into its own through a rapid set of corners, even if the surface is lumpy and bumpy.

Tech has moved on too. The Intelligent Personal Assistant doesn’t just help with navigation and phone calls, you can use it to change displays, or ask it how far to your destination, the distance to empty or the tyre pressures. The powerful headlights illuminate everywhere but directly at oncoming cars, to avoid blinding anyone. The active cruise control can bring in ‘Driving Assistant’ to do some of the steering for you, and as for the entertainment system, you start feeling like an orchestra conductor as you can control it simply with gestures, with a finger twirl to change the volume, or a pointed finger to pick up a call.

The standard kit is pretty good too, including that M Adaptive suspension and sports seats, a head-up display, three-zone auto climate control, a 12.3-inch digital display, heated seats, a 10-speaker sound system, wireless smartphone charging, ConnectedDrive, Concierge services, intelligent emergency call, real-time traffic information and much, much more.

Overall this is still a car a keen driver can enjoy, without the suspension getting too firm for comfort-loving passengers. It boasts some truly impressive kit, especially if you get itchy fingers over the options list – be careful, some choices will serious damage your wallet, like the sunroof, $2500, or the leather-covered dash, $2300.

And yes, this 3 Series is more spacious than ever. The downside for some is that they’ll find it just too big – a criticism BMW will no doubt counter by leading potential buyers to the smaller cars which now slot in beneath it on showroom floors.

At a glance

Models

BMW 320d Sport

Engine

1995cc four-cylinder

Price

$86,100 (as tested, $77,500 standard)

ANCAP safety rating

Not yet tested

Power and Torque

140kW at 4,000rpm, 400Nm at 1,750-2,500rpm

Transmission

Eight-speed sport auto

Fuel economy

4.8l/100km

Towing capacity

1600kg braked

2WD/4WD/AWD

2WD rears

Seating capacity

5

Luggage capacity/payload

480 litres

Safety systems

  • Driving Assistant inc. Lane departure warning
  • Lane change warning
  • Front collision warning, rear cross traffic warning
  • Rear collision prevention
  • Parking assistant inc. lateral parking aid and rear-view camera
  • Runflat tyres
  • Intelligent Emergency Call
  • Adapted headlights with auto anti-dazzle
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