Like the exterior styling, the 3-series’ new interior aesthetic is notable for a serious injection of testosterone. ‘Layering’ is BMW’s artful descriptive term for the arrangement of muscular swathes of soft-touch plastic on the dashboard. The centre stack is angled by seven degrees towards the driver, but the real nucleus of a smart and contemporary ambience is the widescreen infotainment display mounted above it.
Swollen, substantial stereo and heater controls are found below, but your eye falls on the fixed 6.5-inch screen just as your left hand finds the familiarly located iDrive controls. The car’s driving position is excellent, once it’s been adjusted via the many ratcheted handles.
While the range of adjustment of the driver’s seat and steering wheel shrink-wrap the car around the driver, elsewhere the impression of greater space is undeniable. Our tape measure confirms almost identical front cabin space to the E90 saloon, but a generous 100mm gain in maximum rear legroom, with 30mm more rear headroom – making this new 3-series a more accommodating car than even the current Audi A4.
The dichotomy between outward compactness and those practical gains are at the heart of this cabin’s pristine appeal. However, we’d rather do without the fiddly cupholder cover, which must be retrieved from the glovebox and fitted manually like an ostentatious bin lid, as well as the slightly gaudy red fascia accent that comes with the Sport trim.