BMW brings its 3 Series back up to date
THE 3 Series is BMW’s most important model; the locally produced model contributes to one quarter of the Bavarian marque’s global sales. With the new Mercedes-Benz C-Class racking up the sales every month, the new Audi A4 on the way and the new Jaguar XE impressing, the 3 Series was in need of an update, which it received. I went to the BMW plant in Rosslyn, near Pretoria, to drive the updated model to find out whether the revisions have made the car more adept.
The updated 3 Series is a case of spot-the-difference. However, BMW assures me that there are new front and rear bumpers, reshaped headlights, larger air intakes up front as well as new L-shaped LED tail lamps. There are also new alloy wheels and a few new exterior colours to choose from. The interior has also received a few tweaks, with chrome additions to the air vents and several controls as well as gloss black accents, while the centre console now has a cover that slides open. Minor - I know - but it’s the mechanical and nomenclature changes that count.
Nomenclature, you say?
The Germans are the masters of changing their models’ names every few years and this updated 3 Series continues in that tradition. At the entry level point the 316i has been replaced by the 318i,which has ditched the four-cylinder turbo petrol for the brand’s 1.5-litre three-cylinder turbo petrol. The model has 100kW/220Nm and is available with either a six-speed manual or an eight-speed automatic. It’s more efficient too, with a claimed consumption of 5.0 litres/100km.
The 320i gets a 2.0-litre turbo petrol with 135kW/290Nm and is also more efficient with consumption ranging between 5.3 and 5.5 litres/100km depending on the transmission. The old 328i model has now been replaced by the 330i model; it still has a 2.0-litre turbo petrol, but now comes with 185kW/350Nm for a 0-100km/h time of 5.8 seconds and a top speed of 250km/h.
New top dog
The flagship 335i has been replaced by the 340i, which gets an all-new 240kW/450Nm 3.0 litre straight-six turbo motor called the B58. It comes as standard with the ZF eight-speed automatic transmission and will get from 0-100km/h in 5.1 seconds. I had an opportunity to drive the new model at launch; the new motor’s power delivery feels more linear and the car feels more eager, too. The consumption that we achieved during our 200km test route was commendable.
On the diesel front, the badging stays the same; there’s the 320d, which now gets 140kW/400Nm and consumes a claimed 4.0 litres/100km and a 0-100km/h time of 7.2 seconds and now also gets twin tailpipes. The 330d remains unchanged with the same 190kW/560Nm with a fuel consumption of 4.9 litres/100km.
The 3 Series is a fantastic product, its build quality, driving dynamics, styling and ergonomics make it a compelling package. It does need to be this good though; the new A4 rides on a new platform, the Jaguar is an exercise in lightweight engineering while C-Class simply ticks all of the boxes. I will wait until I drive the Jaguar and the A4, but for now my money would go for the 3 Series purely because of its dynamism.
Warranty and service plan
The 3 Series range comes with a two-year unlimited mileage warranty as well as a five-year/100 000km motor plan.