You’re looking at the most successful BMW 3 Series of all time. The G20 has been on sale since 2019, and in that period it has sold 1.1 million units globally – more than any other 3 Series in the same time, despite all the global crises to contend with. It also achieved the full five stars in the Autocar road test. Impressive stuff.
So, with all of that success, you can see why BMW has opted for an understated mid-life refresh. If it ain’t broke, and all of that… Key differences include a freshened front with completely redesigned, slimmer headlights and a tweaked kidney grille that gets a new ‘double bar’ design but – thankfully – isn’t any bigger.
M Sport models also get new air vents at the extreme corners of the front to emphasise the width and, according to BMW, evoke something of the brand’s classic shark nose. Oddly, though, foglights have now been removed, optionally or otherwise.
The trim options have been simplified and equipment levels upped, so it’s now just Sport or M Sport and even the entry-level car has tri-zone climate control, heated leather sports seats and a full gamut of new, curved-screen infotainment goodness. Keyless entry, wireless phone charging, electric seat adjustment, adjustable lumbar support and adaptive dampers (available on M Sport only) remain some of the options that are likely to tempt a lot of buyers into the inevitable optional kit packages.
Even so, the 3 Series is competitively equipped by the standards of its peers, including the Audi A4 and Mercedes C-Class. The big changes have been made inside, where a single curved screen features a 12.3in digital instrument readout and a 14.9in touchscreen, with BMW’s latest Operating System 8 software (already seen in the iX). That means fewer buttons for a sleeker dashboard, the minimalist look further complimented by a new gear stick that has morphed and shrunken into more of a gear flick.
And yes, the climate controls are now on the touchscreen. Boo. For what it’s worth, the temperature controls are permanently fixed and visible at the bottom of the display and aren’t difficult to prod while you’re driving. We also credit BMW’s voicecontrol system with being one of the best out there. It’s not infallible, but it responded correctly whenever we asked it to change the temperature.
In better news for button advocates, there’s still a simple volume dial, not to mention BMW’s familiar iDrive rotary controller for the infotainment and shortcut switches, which remain a very welcome feature in every 3 Series. The touchscreen itself responds quickly, the icons are mostly big enough to hit accurately and the graphics are second to none. Over-the-air software updates, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and an excellent native sat-nav system should keep everyone happy.