The seventh generation of BMW's best-selling car will debut in October at the Paris Motor Show.
Replacing the 02 Series, the 3 Series has been around since 1975 and during this interval, it has spawned a total of six generations. The current car was launched towards the end of 2011, so it makes perfect sense BMW is on the verge of introducing the new model that goes by the codename of G20. Unlike some of the 2 Series models and the next-gen 1 Series, purists will be happy to hear the next iteration of the 3 Series will stick with a rear-wheel-drive platform, but some major changes are in tow as you are about to find out.
What is it?
Does the 3 Series really need an introduction? It’s the quintessential compact sports sedan offering tail-happy thrills in a sumptuous cabin loaded with the latest technologies developed by BMW. The model’s lineup is more diverse than ever, offering an easy-on-your-wallet version powered by a puny three-cylinder engine all the way up to a hardcore M3 CS version with limited availability and more go-faster bits. Add into the mix a thrifty 330e plug-in hybrid and there’s quite possibly a 3 Series version out there for everyone.
What does it look like?
This might come as a surprise, but it was back in January 2016 when we first spotted a prototype of the next-generation 3 Series. Since then, we’ve received a plethora of images from our spies, with the most recent ones being the most revealing. That’s because the test vehicles seen out and about in the past few months had the full production bodies and lights, thus giving us a good opportunity to see how the sporty sedan will evolve for its next iteration.
Evolution, not revolution – that must’ve been the theme when BMW’s design team got together to work on the new car. Indeed, you’ll be able to immediately recognize the G20 as a 3 Series, but with sleeker headlights and taillights, a slightly larger kidney grille, and quite possibly a borderline unnoticeable size increase. We’re expecting the wheelbase to be a tad longer than today’s car, so the rear doors will probably be slightly larger to reflect the growth.
Truth be told, BMW hasn’t really surprised us in recent years with its interior designs, so the 3 Series’ cabin will echo that of the outgoing car. Spy shots published at the beginning of May partially revealed the dashboard design with a digital instrument cluster and an enlarged infotainment screen. In our humble opinion, the best thing about the interior will be the extra legroom for rear passengers thanks not only to the aforementioned size increase but also to better packaging enabled by the CLAR platform shared with its bigger brothers.
What's under the hood
According to a report published in February, the engine lineup is going to be quite vast, as follows:
|BMW 3 Series Model||Horsepower||Available Gearboxes||Traction|
|316d||136||6-speed manual, 8-speed auto||RWD|
|318d||163||6-speed manual, 8-speed auto||RWD|
|320d||204||6-speed manual, 8-speed auto||RWD/xDrive|
|325e iPerformance||230||8-speed auto||xDrive|
|330e iPerformance||265||8-speed auto||xDrive|
|318i||150||6-speed manual, 8-speed auto||RWD|
|320i||204||6-speed manual, 8-speed auto||RWD/xDrive|
|320i Efficient Dynamics||170||6-speed manual, 8-speed auto||RWD|
What the table above fails to mention is that BMW will be launching a fully electric 3 Series at some point in the life cycle. That’s right, the A4, C-Class, and XE rival will lose the combustion engine as hinted by recent spy shots (above) of a prototype being benchmarked against a Tesla Model 3. Although it had a pair of exhaust tips, the disguised sedan had “Electric Test Vehicle” written on its body and featured a closed-off grille, which suggests it didn’t need cooling for an internal combustion engine.
The table is also missing the cherry on top of the G20’s cake – the new M3. It’s expected to have more power than the M3 CS while shaving off some fat. A recent article published by our friends at BMWBLOG says the 3 Series will lose approximately 121 pounds (55 kilograms) on average, despite growing and adding more tech.
When will we see it?
A little bird from Bavaria has told us the revamped BMW 3 Series will premiere at the Paris Motor Show in October. If that’s accurate, it means an online reveal will probably take place as soon as the second half of September, but obviously not before a series of teasers. It goes without saying the sedan will be the first to see the light of day, with the wagon (below) to follow most likely in 2019. If you want a more practical 3 Series that’s not a wagon, you can head to your local BMW and place an order for the Gran Turismo, but get it while you still can as the odd derivative will allegedly not be renewed for another generation.