In terms of new car introductions, a replacement for the BMW 3 Series is a pretty big one. The 3 Series is, after all, one of the firm’s biggest sellers, not only in terms of private buyers but fleet users too.
Since the 3’s introduction in 1975, BMW has shifted more than 15 million units worldwide, so this latest model arrives on the market with a fair amount of weight on its shoulders.
However, thanks to new engines, a redesigned interior and claimed sharper driving dynamics, this 3 Series should be able to live up to its predecessor’s reputation. We headed to Portugal to see if it can.
What’s new about this 3 Series?
BMW has thrown the works at this new 3 Series to ensure it matches up to the likes of the Audi A4 and the dynamic Alfa Romeo Giulia. As such, an upgraded and lighter chassis resides underneath the car, while a wider track and lower centre of gravity combine to help the 3 remain as dynamic as possible.
The new 3 Series also features A-pillars filled with foam, along with a windscreen made from acoustic glass to aid the car’s overall refinement levels, making it as quiet and as comfortable as possible to ease longer journeys behind the wheel.
How does it look?
It’s undeniably a 3 Series to look at in some areas – the big kidney grilles remain, as do the slightly flared arches. In many places it appears like a 5 Series that’s been put through a hot wash – the front air intakes bear a striking resemblance to the larger car’s, as do the headlights.
Overall, it’s a pretty design and one that is perfectly in proportion. It does appear to be quite colour-dependent, however. The striking blue some of our test cars were finished in gave the car a lot of impact, while white versions tended to blend into the background.
You can upgrade the look of your car with a range of M-Performance parts, with intricate alloy wheel designs and more prominent splitters available to give your 3 Series a more dynamic look. In truth, we’d argue that it looks great without any additions, though.
What’s the spec like?
With the fleet market making up a lot of the previous-generation 3 Series’ sales, the new version needs a decent level of standard equipment to make it a more appealing prospect to business users.
Fortunately, BMW has delivered in this respect. Base-spec SE cars benefit from 17-inch alloy wheels as standard, along with adaptive LED headlights, heated front seats and a reversing camera, among other options.
Our car came with larger 18-inch wheels, as well as an electric glass sunroof and BMW’s LaserLight headlights. That last feature is one we’d thoroughly recommend, as they provide a superb amount of visibility at night.
Continued on next page: Step inside and take a drive