In styling terms, BMW has replaced the slightly flaccid blandness of the E90 3-series with a sinewy, masculine look in this new F30 that’s appreciated by most who set eyes on it.
The 3-series’ familiar three-box proportions disguise a car that has grown by 93mm in length and has most if not all of the same visual compactness that characterised its forebears. The current Mercedes C-class and Lexus IS are shorter and narrower. BMW says it has achieved this growth while also making the 3-series 40kg lighter, with a high-strength steel body that’s also 10 per cent more rigid.
The car’s physical enlargement stems from BMW’s agenda to make the 3-series more practical and refined, while retaining the sporting character that’s such a core part of its DNA. To that end, to offset a 50mm increase in wheelbase, it has gone for proportionally larger increases in track width (37mm front, 48mm rear), in pursuit of even greater agility.
The car’s sides are shaped by a double swage line. The first line runs from the headlight to the front door panel, the second from the front wheel to the rear light.
Twin iris-like lights are part of BMW’s bi-xenon headlight upgrade but LED eyebrows are standard. Adaptive headlights (also optional) swivel and light side roads at junctions. Vertical air intakes on the front valance are part of the air curtain system. It smooths airflow around the front wheels and contributes to aerodynamic efficiency at speed. A wider, flatter grille meets the car’s headlights on either side, supposedly to make its front look wider. Sport models have eight vertical black gills per kidney; Luxury and Modern trims have 11 chrome ones.
The addition of a wider rear track provides the 3-series with a more planted, hunkered-down look when the car is viewed from the rear. Strong horizontal creases are a defining part of the bootlid’s shape. Running immediately above the BMW roundel and the loading lip, they’re supposed to frame the car’s rear aspect, adding an aura of strength.