Car News

BMW Reveals All-New 3 Series

BMW has just taken the wraps off of an all-new 3 Series sedan at the Paris auto show. The company's best-selling model gets longer, wider, and adds a compact sedan-load of new tech. Oh, and it'll let you choose a name for the virtual assistant. But be creative. Don't just pick JARVIS.

At first glance, you'd be forgiven for not realizing that this is an all-new car. But take a closer look and the details of the new styling become more clear. It starts with more angular, pulled-back headlights – like the ones on the iNext concept, though nowhere close to that extreme. The front bumper is more angular and more pronounced as well.

The car's flanks are more curved and scalloped than before, with a big change to the character line from the top of the front wheel well back to the taillights. It's now running above the door handle, not through the middle, and it seems much more subtle. The same goes for the scallop in the bottom of the doors which appears both deeper and smoother.

This BMW is longer and wider than the old 3, 76 mm longer at 4,709 mm, and 16 mm wider at 1,827 mm. The new dimensions should make the car bigger inside, especially the 41 mm longer wheelbase.

The new 3 debuts BMW's new Intelligent Personal Assistant. The new "Hey BMW" digital command system can change car functions for you, like text and audio controls, but it can also school you on how your car works. Or is working: say "Hey BMW, how does high-beam assistant work?" and it will tell you. Same for "Is the oil level ok?" Best yet, you can rename it. So instead of "Hey BMW" you can go with "Hey Barry" or whatever name you've given your car.

It also has the latest, 7.0 version of the BMW operating system. It provides BMW's live cockpit digital display – a 12.3-inch all-digital instrument cluster – and drives a 10.25-inch control display for infotainment. To interact with the various system functions, the driver can use the touchscreen, iDrive controller, steering wheel buttons, gestures, or that voice control.

Active safety has been ramped up too, not just convenience. The new 3 Series will come with lane-departure warning, as well as collision and pedestrian warning with city braking as standard. Adaptive cruise and driving assistant with lane-change warning are optional as are rear collision prevention and cross-traffic alert. BMW has added a new steering and lane control assistant that can keep the vehicle centered in the lane.

Full LED headlights will be standard with LED daytime running lights. But adaptive LED lights will be optional with BMW Laserlight. That uses a laser spotlight that can fire the high beams more than half a kilometre down the road. That system comes with a high-beam assistant to make sure you don't blind other road users.

This is a BMW, though, so more important than gadgets are the powertrain and chassis. The new 3 Series will come with five engines globally at launch, but we'll just get a pair – at first, at least. Canadians will see the 330i at launch with a 2.0L turbo four that makes 255 hp and 295 lb-ft. That's seven hp and 37 lb-ft more than last year, through changes like increased max fuel pressure and a lighter crankshaft. The new eight-speed auto has a wider ratio spread than before. If the car has navigation, it will even use mapping info to control shifts, like holding a gear through a set of corners.

Summer 2019 will see the M340i and M340i xDrives arrive. The M Performance model gets the M sport rear diff standard as well as a new version of BMW's 3.0L straight-six. The twin-turbo engine will make 382 hp and 369 lb-ft of torque. That's up 62 hp and 37 lb-ft over the current 340i sedan. Missing from the release is any mention of a manual gearbox, but this is BMW so we'll remain hopeful.

A 330e performance hybrid is planned, set to arrive in early 2020.

BMW has trimmed 55 kg from the new car, lowering the center of gravity and continuing the brand's traditional 50:50 weight distribution. The car will have an optional M Sport suspension but both undercarriage choices will use new lift-related dampers. They offer different damping rates depending on where the suspension is in its travel, which the company says reduces body movement and evens out bumpy roads. If the 10 mm lower M Sport isn't enough, an Adaptive M suspension will be available with electronically controlled dampers.

M Sport brakes with four-piston fixed front calipers will be on the options list and an M Sport limited-slip differential will also be available. The differential can completely lock the rear wheels together to send power to both wheels and improve acceleration and cornering performance.

The new 3 Series will go on sale in March. Expect more details, as well as Canadian specifics, as that date nears.