The BMW 3 Series has been the handling benchmark amongst premium saloons for years. It’s now roomier and more luxurious inside, but there’s still no Android Auto
The new BMW 3 Series will come as a refreshing change if you have grown tired of the generic look of BMW saloons such as the 5 Series and 7 Series. It’s codenamed the G20, distinguishing it from the outgoing F30 model.
The new 3 Series looks far more striking than either of its larger saloon siblings and comes with BMW’s new one-piece kidney grille. The 3 Series’ trademark twin headlights are carried through to this version, but now the individual lights are split up by LED daytime running lights and a barb that rises from the front bumper.
Compared with the rest of the car’s styling, the rear end is a more subtle affair, with a bootlid that curves down and kicks back up like an integrated spoiler. The LED tail lights are new, but conservatively styled, and don’t feature the cool animations you get on some Audis when you lock and unlock the car.
The 2019 BMW 3 Series interior has taken a significant step up in quality. It gets large swathes of trim pieces that make the cabin look and feel expensive, while all the interior in your eye line is made from soft-to-the-touch materials. Standard LED interior lighting, with 11 selectable colours, keeps things looking cool even at night. The LED strips on the insides of the doors also pulse to warn other road users when your door’s open.
As before, the centre console houses BMW’s iDrive infotainment control selector. The car’s drive select is now adjusted via touch-sensitive buttons beside the gear shifter, rather than the roller control found in the old model.
The BMW 3 Series is available with two infotainment systems, depending on which car you go for. Apple CarPlay comes as standard but Android Auto – which is available on the Audi A4 and Mercedes C-Class – isn’t even an option on the BMW.
The basic BMW Live Cockpit Plus system is standard on SE and Sport models and adds features such as a Touch Controller, a navigation system, two USB ports for data transfer and a WiFi wireless connection for you and your passengers. It has an 8.8-inch touchscreen and a 5.7-inch colour display in the instrument binnacle.
M Sport models get the uprated BMW Live Cockpit Professional system, which includes a 12.3-inch display that replaces the analogue instrument binnacle, plus a 10.25-inch central infotainment screen and 20 GB of memory storage.
The 2019 BMW 3 Series’ larger exterior dimensions mean interior space has increased across the board. The extra space will be most noticeable in the back, with rear-seat passengers getting more rear legroom and additional headroom. Larger rear doors make getting in and out of the back seat easier than before and there’s now room for three child seats, although you still only get two Isofix points.
The BMW’s back seats split 40:20:40 as standard to allow you to carry longer items through from the boot as well as one or two passengers. The boot itself has a 480-litre capacity – the same as you get in the Audi A4 and Mercedes C-Class.
Keen drivers have always been drawn to the BMW 3 Series, but those who love luxury and technology now have more reason to choose one before an Audi A4 or Mercedes C-Class
The BMW 3 Series comes with two engines from launch, while a plug-in hybrid (PHEV) version and a variety of other diesel and petrols will follow later – including a high-performance M3 model.
While it might not be the sexiest option, the 2.0-litre 320d diesel is the most important model because it’ll account for the most sales. The latest version has the same 190hp you get in the current 320d but fuel economy improves from 57.6 to 64.2mpg. The only petrol model confirmed as of yet is the 2.0-litre 258hp 330i which gets from 0-62mph in 5.6 seconds and returns fuel economy of 48.7mpg.
While details have yet to be confirmed for the PHEV, you can expect it to get from 0-62mph in under seven seconds, while being free from paying London’s congestion charge and capable of running for more than 30 miles on battery power alone.
Despite being bigger than the old model in every way, the new car is up to 55kg lighter, depending on which version you go for. The 3 Series’ suspension should also be noticeably improved. It comes with BMW’s new passive Lift-Related Dampers as standard, so each wheel gets primary and secondary springs as well as hydraulic bump stops – making the car comfortable, but also sporty to drive.
M Sport models get a stiffer, 10mm lower version of the same system, along performance brakes with blue calipers and – on 330i models – an electronically controlled rear differential for more grip when accelerating out of bends. Adaptive dampers are optional on M Sport models and have Comfort, Sport and automatic Adaptive settings.
The 2019 BMW 3 Series comes with BMW’s Active Guard Plus safety package which includes as standard speed limit information, a lane departure warning system, and automatic emergency braking that can detect cars and people.
The optional Driving Assistant Professional package includes Active Cruise Control that can brake and accelerate the car in traffic – including bringing it to a complete halt – while returning to a preset cruising speed when the way is clear. The system can also steer the car on the motorway, stop you from pulling out in front of other cars in your blind spot and even warn you if you go down a one-way road the wrong way.
A head-up display is another option that’s available as part of the Technology package, its display is 70 percent bigger than the system in the old 3 Series and it also has clearer graphics.
Finally, you can also choose to upgrade from the standard auto park system to Park Assistant Plus which includes a 360-degree camera. It augments the car onto its display and the graphics can be viewed from different angles to aid parking or to help you squeeze safely through tight spaces.
We’ll have more on how the BMW 3 Series drives once we’ve spent some time behind the wheel.