Updated BMW 3 Series gets more efficient engines and retuned driving dynamics to take on advanced rivals like Jaguar's XE

The facelifted BMW 3 Series has been revealed. It will be offered with a range of new engines, revised chassis settings and lower CO2 emissions when it goes on sale next month.

This 3 Series sits on the same platform as the existing model, although BMW engineers claim to have revised all three of the car’s chassis set-ups – standard, M Sport and adaptive – with retuned dampers and stiffer suspension in a bid to ramp up the agility. The electric power steering system has also been reprogrammed.

The styling modifications are subtle but designed to make the 3 Series appear lower and wider than before. There are new front and rear bumpers, with longer horizontal elements, and revised headlights, including two levels of LED-based lights that position the indicator elements at the top of the lens. The bonnet, doors, wings and roof remain unchanged on both the saloon and Touring.

With the exception of BMW’s N57 3.0-litre six-cylinder turbodiesel in the 330d, all of the engines are new to the 3 Series.

The petrol options now start with a three-cylinder 318i, equipped with the 134bhp 1.5-litre turbocharged engine (called B38) that has already been used in the Mini and the 2 Series Active Tourer. It’s slower than the current entry-level petrol (the 320i) but considerably more efficient. It emits 116g/km of CO2 as an auto or 119g/km as a manual.

The four-cylinder petrol editions both use BMW’s latest modular engine, codenamed B48. It offers 181bhp and 199lb ft in the 320i, and 248bhp and 258lb ft in the 330i, which replaces the 328i in the line-up.

A 3.0-litre six-cylinder petrol 3 Series will continue to be offered. It’s called the 340i and has 322bhp and 332lb ft for a 0-62mph dash of 5.1sec.

All of the four-cylinder diesel options are new and are based around BMW’s latest B47 motor. It offers a modest 114bhp in 316d trim and 148bhp as the 318d, but the mainstays of the range will be the 320d and 320d ED (Efficient Dynamics).

The regular 320d has 188bhp and 295lb ft, for a 0-62mph time of 7.2sec in automatic trim. It emits 106g/km of CO2 regardless of whether it’s with that transmission or the standard six-speed manual.

The 320d ED loses a little power – to 161bhp – but keeps the same torque, so it’s only 0.6sec slower to 62mph. It dips beneath the 100g/km mark in automatic form (99g/km) but emits 102g/km as a manual. This is in contrast to Jaguar’s cleanest XE, which can’t crack 100g/km with its auto ’box.

The 330d is automatic only. It packs 255bhp and 413lb ft and manages 0-62mph in 5.6sec, while its CO2 emissions fall slightly, to 129g/km.

BMW will continue to offer the 3 Series with its xDrive four-wheel drive system. It’s available as an option on the 320i, 320d and 330d and is standard on the 335d.

The cleanest 3 Series of all (on paper at least) will be a plug-in hybrid that’s due on sale next year. Badged 330e, it will blend the petrol engine from the 320i with a 107bhp electric motor and an eight-speed automatic transmission. The 330e will be able to travel for up to 20 miles and at speeds of up to 75mph on electric power alone. BMW predicts overall CO2 emissions of just 49g/km. The prices should be in line with those of high-end diesel models.

At the other end of the spectrum, BMW is planning a revised M3 that gets the tweaks to the headlights and tail-lights and a revised interior layout, as well as a subtle reworking of the twin-turbocharged six-cylinder engine. The facelifted M3 is likely to make its debut at this autumn’s Frankfurt motor show.

The core of the line-up will be the 318d, 320i and 320d, since these motors are available with a choice of all four trim levels: SE, Sport, Luxury and M Sport. The entry-level 318i and 316d models are available in SE or Sport trim only.

UK specifications have yet to be finalised, but SE trim will have cloth seats and fewer chrome highlights in the cabin. Sport and Luxury are both expected to have leather and they’ll bring a longer options list and different designs of larger alloy wheels. The controversial Luxury and Sport line badges will continue – they’re still positioned on the front wings – but their design has been modernised.

The 3 Series Touring gets the same styling tweaks as the saloon and shares its revised engine line-up and new chassis settings. But since the car’s metal bits are relatively unchanged, so are the key dimensions. As a result, the Touring will continue to offer a flat, well-shaped load bay but less overall space than some of its key rivals.

Speaking to Autocar at the launch of the updated model, BMW Marketing boss Ian Robertson said: “The first 3 Series had a very clear vision to set us apart from the opposition - and that is still the goal.

“It is the car that put BMW on the map - in it's first three years on sale, sales rose 74% - and to date 40 million 3 Series have been sold - it is the biggest selling premium car in history and accounts for a quarter of our global sales.

“That's why we're never going to rest on our laurels - we are the worldwide segment leader and our intention is to always pioneer indynamics, efficiency and design and in every body style, from saloon to convertible, coupe, Touring and Gran Turismo.

“As the sector benchmark we know that it is the car that all our opposition measure against. That makes it an aspirational product forthem - and we're determined to stay there.”

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Comments
55

21 August 2014
Having run a 4yr old 3 series for a year, i can say only that it's been something of a let down,compared to my previous 5 series,my 3 series feels a bit low rent,slightly less use of quality materials inside,a bit remote with the steering,i was surprised because i thought all BMW's were built to the same standard,lets hope the next 3 series corrects this.

Peter Cavellini.

21 August 2014
I've gone from an F10 520d to a new 330D in the last 5 months.

The 330 is a fabulous drive - supple, comfortable, great steering and composure, but the 5 was also this albeit too big to throw around. 330d engine is sublime, smooth, great noise, and very quick. 520d engine was a bit loud on idle though.

The biggest difference is in interior quality and design. The 3 series is quite a bit behind in materials and perceived quality vs the 5 series. In truth I'm not happy with the 3's interior, with a fussy centre console, truly terrible seat adjusters that feel flimsy and uncomfortable to use, and in the case of the seat back angle adjuster it would be out of place in a French car let alone a BMW. Despite being an April 14 build it doesn't work with an iPhone 5 without a £60 cable, and even then it doesn't do half the things the 5 series did with connectivity - reading again, you probably have to opt for the extended Bluetooth pack to get proper functionality (BMW charging for something that used to be free!). Love the 330d, but disappointed by some of the things I'd expect to be better.

22 August 2014
Paul Dalgarno wrote:
I've gone from an F10 520d to a new 330D in the last 5 months.

Hi Paul

I'm looking to upgrade from my F30 320d next year (I'll probably wait until the updated cars are launched) and was strongly considering a 330d or 430d.

I'm wondering if you went for xDrive over RWD and if you considered or road-tested a 335d, and if so why you settled on the 330?

Although I'll test-drive a few before I settle on one, there are that many options within a single BMW model series that it's difficult for my local dealer to source each of the various combinations I'd like to try. So I'm always happy to hear other opinions! I'm concerned that xDrive might corrupt the steering and handling a bit, and that the 335 might be overkill - given that ticking a few boxes can bring the price up to £50k quite easily, and it's not that much more to get an M3/M4!

Also, road tests in Autocar have been a bit inconsistent: 435d gets a ho-hum write-up (but still manages 4 stars?!?), while 335d Touring gets showered with hyperbole and 5 stars...

My impressions of the current 3-series interior are somewhat opposite to yours, but then I moved up from a Mark V Astra! I do concede that not all materials are a tactile delight, but in general it's pretty plush and solid feeling. And BMW have to do something to differentiate the 3 from the 5, because there's probably not that much in it when it comes to size/space.

Hopefully, given the praise that has been directed towards the quality of the C-Class's interior, and that expected on the XE and new A4, this facelift for the 3-series should address a few of those issues - and maybe add a bit more standard kit for the money too.

22 August 2014
I tried the X-Drive, but it didn't feel as agile, and I consider a set of rear winter tyres a better option if it's winter traction you're after. Better for cost and grip as the X-Drive still has sporty summer tyres as standard, and they're likely to be useless in snow. If you're struggling for traction to get out of side junctions the X-Drive's for you though - just grips and goes with no scrabble.

Couldn't justify the 335d cost-wise vs the performance gains personally, but if you have the money then why not? Try both though - it's a large spend and the dealer had better be accommodating! TM3/M4 would have significantly higher running costs than even a 335d. The 330d is seriously rapid, great oomph when you need it, and lovely sound. Only downside of all the torque is in the wet of course, but if you've got an semblance of self control it's never an issue as the controls are perfectly calibrated.

8 May 2015
I have a 335d touring. it is better than my last car F10 M5 by a mile. it is almost as quick, does over 50mpg if driven carefully and over 40 all the time. i use winter tyres nov-mar and it is comfortable, rock solid and nigh on as quick as the M5. DMS tune it to 381bhp and that would easily match the M5. I specced it to 56k so a good load of extras. For the money it is amazing. I have had many AMGs and an Aston and apart from two 6 litre Mercs it beats the lot. Hope this helps

24 August 2014
Paul Dalgarno wrote:
I've gone from an F10 520d to a new 330D in the last 5 months. The biggest difference is in interior quality and design. The 3 series is quite a bit behind in materials and perceived quality vs the 5 series. In truth I'm not happy with the 3's interior, with a fussy centre console, truly terrible seat adjusters that feel flimsy and uncomfortable to use, and in the case of the seat back angle adjuster it would be out of place in a French car let alone a BMW. Despite being an April 14 build it doesn't work with an iPhone 5 without a £60 cable, and even then it doesn't do half the things the 5 series did with connectivity - reading again, you probably have to opt for the extended Bluetooth pack to get proper functionality (BMW charging for something that used to be free!). Love the 330d, but disappointed by some of the things I'd expect to be better.
Paul serious question, not a dig at BMW, if the 3 series is so disappointing apart from the engine, why did you choose it, did you try a C- Class or an A4 or do you just prefer BMW, I am not a fan to be honest, I think they are over rated to be fair, it just strikes me as strange that someone would purchase a vehicle they are not fully happy with especially when spending well over £30k, I am looking to trade my S80 in probably within 12 months, and was thinking of a C-Class, (hence my question), but might even wait to see what the replacement for the S80 is like, or let the XE go through its honeymoon period and then have a look at one of them.

16 December 2014
3 series was bought before new C-Class was properly seen in public. Might have considered it as I like it inside and out (apart from that awful stick on iPad thingy that most manufacturers are doing at the moment).

Audi A4, been there and done it 4 times, and while perfectly good I just prefer the BMW. Current Audi styling needs a kick in the backside before I put them back on my list. Always had at least one electrical probelm with each of my Audi's too! Dealer in Aberdeen is fantastic though, which kept me coming back.

XE - I'm a little underwhelmed by it, but I'll try it next time around. The XF was very nice to drive when I tried one before buying an F10 5 series 3 years ago. Couldn't convince my wife to have one though.

So I'll try the XE and C-Class, and maybe if something else comes out I'll look at that too.

Similar I'm not having a dig at you, but I have a Volvo V60 too at the moment, and in truth the thing is grating on me after only 3 months (it's a 2 year old one). Sadly I'll admit to buying it online after a very short test in a similar model locally. It's got rubbish steering (overly sensitive on initial application), a crashy ride, and a noisy engine that forced me to do a bit of chip tuning so that I don't have to extend the rpm. If my wife would let me I'd sell it tomorrow. Looks nice though in my opinion. I've never made such a large car purchase without borrowing a car for a day, and I'm still kicking myself.

16 December 2014
Surely you would expect a 3 series to feel less quality than a 5 series?? Hence the fact that the 5 series is a class above.

16 December 2014
d79m wrote:
Surely you would expect a 3 series to feel less quality than a 5 series?? Hence the fact that the 5 series is a class above.
Completely agree, it's one of the reasons I'd like to replace my F31 with a 5 series. I don't have any particular issues with the interior of my F31, it's as well made as an Audi I used to have, it has plenty of space and is easy to use. It's all just a bit dull and doesn't feel particularly special. The same applies to the way it drives; it's better in every quantifiable way than the E90 I used to own but while that car was a hoot to drive the F31 is just a but dull unless you really push on. I could have fun in the E90 just nipping to the shops. So I am a bit disappointed in it but I'd still take one over an A4 or C Class (just). Looking forward to seeing how good the XE is.

16 December 2014
d79m wrote:
Surely you would expect a 3 series to feel less quality than a 5 series?? Hence the fact that the 5 series is a class above.
I would tend to disagree. Isn't the whole point of premium car brands that they feel premium, irrespective of size?

 

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