The BMW 3 Series is the car the Mercedes C-Class and Audi A4 seem incapable of toppling. The Bavarian company has sold more than 14 million 3 Series since the first model’s launch in 1975 and it’s certain to increase that figure with this – the updated 3 Series.
Key to the new model’s success is its claimed efficiency which would put it right at the top of the segment. There’s a huge amount of information to take in, most of which is pretty tedious, so we’ve boiled down the main features of the new car you need to know about.
Road tax-free diesel
Big news for company car users is the 320d Efficient Dynamics Plus model. This version gets the same 2.0-litre turbodiesel as the regular 320d but detuned to 163hp. This helps it achieve an average of 74.3mpg and CO2 emissions of 99g/km in automatic guise – making it one of the few models in the class that’s free to tax.
Other additions to make this model as efficient as possible include optimised gear ratios, low-rolling-resistance tyres and improved aerodynamics. These models also get upgraded navigation, leather upholstery and heated seats.
Proving efficient cars don’t have to be slow, BMW will introduce a 330e plug-in hybrid. This model combines a 184hp 2.0-litre turbo petrol and 107hp electric motor for a combined power output of 252hp. Despite its 0-62mph time of 6.3 seconds, this model returns 134.5mpg and emits just 49g/km of CO2.
If needed, it can run for 22 miles on electric power alone and can be recharged from a mains supply. So, if you have a short commute and the ability to charge at both ends, this might be well worth considering.
New high-performance model
Even the most potent non-M 3 Series can’t escape the drive for efficiency. Thankfully, the new 340i is not only faster than the 335i it replaces, it’s more efficient too. It now emits seven per cent less CO2 than the old 335i at 159g/km and can return a staggering 42mpg – something that would’ve been unheard of only a few years ago.
The 326hp unit gets 20hp extra over the outgoing model and, with the standard eight-speed automatic gearbox, can catapult itself from rest to 62mph in just 5.1 seconds. Considering the performance on offer, it’s hard to see why someone would pay the extra for an M3.
New manual and automatic gearboxes
BMW has fitted new manual and automatic gearboxes to the new 3 Series. The six-speed manual has updated gear ratios and an advanced flywheel that allows the engine to stay smooth even when operating at low speeds. The manual gearbox also gets a rev-matching facility that ensures the engine is at the correct speed when selecting the next gear.
Most buyers, however, would be better served by the eight-speed automatic. This unit has, like the manual, improved gear ratios for better acceleration and efficiency resulting in a three-per-cent drop in CO2 emissions compared to the old auto. Finally, its coasting function improves efficiency when going downhill.
Navigation now standard
All new BMWs sold in the UK will now come with satellite navigation as standard. This is excellent news for buyers because that’s an expensive option box you’ll no longer have to tick. Tech fans may want to pay for the upgraded ‘Professional’ navigation because it gets some interesting features.
BMW claims the system is ‘intelligent’ and, if the driver regularly makes the same alteration to their route, the sat nav will ‘learn’ the driver’s intentions and build the detour into any future route planning. The upgraded system also supports LTE, the fastest mobile internet standard.
Serious about the new 3 Series?
Read our full aggregated review of the BMW 3 Series to see what the UK’s motoring press thought of it. Check out its typical rivals – the Audi A4, Mercedes C-Class and Jaguar XE. For a broader list of options, take a look at our deals page to see our latest discounts.