The cars from Munich are always considered to be the ultimate luxury driving machines – and among the various models from the BMW lineup, it was the 3 Series that was always considered as the most driver-oriented car from the lineup.
But the critics says that, with the last model, BMW 3 series slowly moved away from the fun driving machine it was, while trying to appeal to a wide base of audience. This, combined with the attack from competitors, made a dent in BMW's sales.
The new Mercedes-Benz C-class and the Audi A4 certainly did take the fight to the BMW camp, and to counter this, during the mid-lifecycle facelift (officially called as Life Cycle Impulse – LCI), BMW made some changes to reclaim the lost title.
After making the debut, BMW has spent no time waste in bringing the reformed warrior to our shores. The German automaker has launched the updated BMW 3 series in diesel AVATAR in our market, and is available in four different trim levels – Prestige, Sport line, Luxury line and M sport.
The company has informed that the updated 3 series petrol variants will be launched later this year.
BMW has focused more on the changes under the skin during this update, but it will be unfair to say that its exterior changes were neglected. The new BMW gains new LED headlights (or adaptive LED headlights, according to the trim), LED fog lights and the taillights are now restyled.
The front and rear bumpers have gone under the knife and now gets the new styled family looks, similar to the new 4 Series. The car retains the unmistakable BMW 3 series look – the long bonnet, short rear overhang, long wheel base, coupled with rear wheel drive. The kidney grill is slightly wider; the design is accented by the use of flowing character lines that stretches the whole length of the car.
The interiors gain subtle improvements – there are new materials, more chrome and gloss black trim in the cabin, which gives a richer yet sporty look to the cabin. The driver centrically designed center console and the instrument panel gives the driver a cockpit like feeling, when sitting behind the steering wheel.
All design lines in the cabin starts from a point behind the steering wheel, and gives an aesthetic upper edge to the cabin. The navigation is now improved and promises convenient over the air updates. The infotainment system is updated to give quicker response times.
The iDrive controller sits bang in the middle of driver and front passenger, by thus giving easy access to both the driver and the passenger. The iDrive monitor is high definition, is placed on the instrument panel, and imparts an elegant look to the cabin.
The car gets BMW connected drive feature that includes the BMW iDrive, BMW Apps, park distance control and Bluetooth and USB connectivity. The Sport line, Luxury line and M sports come with BMW navigation System Professional, which boasts an 8.8-inch high definition LCD screen with split display function, and comes with hands-free facility, USB interface, voice control, BMW Radio professional and 20GB space to store audio files.
The navigation system is seamlessly integrated and includes the iDrive operating concept and iDrive touch controller. Using the iDrive touch controller, you can input the address in handwriting on the touch sensitive surface – no more typing the destination.
The BMW 3-Series comes up with a full color heads up display (HUD) (depending on the trim) that shows all the vital information about the journey on the front windshield, in the field of vision of the driver, so that the driver does not have to take his eyes from the road to look at the instrument panel during the drive.
The info projected includes the current speed, information and warning from various assist systems, incoming call details, and navigation tips. The brightness of the display gets automatically adjusted according to the external light and the display boasts separate display for day and night. The HUD is adjustable – the driver can adjust the height of the display and can decide what all information needs to be projected on the windshield.
The company has heard the voice of customers and has incorporated few subtle but practical touches in this facelift. The cabin boasts best in class storage space, and has ample space to store the bottles, mugs and cell phones.
The car comes with a nifty new feature – a contactless opening tailgate (in combination with the comfort access package). With this feature, you do not have to whip out your key to open the tailgate when you are outside – you just need to stand close to the rear bumper and wave your foot under the bumper – this will open the tailgate automatically and will swing it open fully, so that you do not have to search for keys.
One of the main grouse from the critics about the previous 3 series was that the car lacked the tactile feel of the earlier 3 series sedans – the cars were not as much fun to drive as the previous generations.
BMW has worked hard to provide some respite for this and has incorporated several chassis updates, which, according to BMW, will provide significantly enhanced dynamic capabilities. The car gains a new electronic power steering unit that promises more feel, and comes with new front struts and rear dampers that will reduce the body roll and will improve the stability and steering precision.
The car retains the turbocharged 4-cylinder mills and gains a new 3.0-liter turbo-charged petrol engine worldwide, though the petrol models will be launched later this year in India. The diesel mill is a new generation 4-cylinder 2.0-liter unit (dubbed the TwinPower Turbo diesel unit), belting out a maximum of 188bhp and 400Nm of power and torque, respectively, and does the 0 to 100 dash in 7.2 seconds.
The car has the top whack of 230km/h. The engine is mated with an 8-speed automatic gearbox and gets paddle shifters according to the trim. The powertrain makes use of lightweight aluminum in construction to reduce the weight and offers an optimum balance between power delivery and economy.
The top-of-the-line M Sports is kitted with few extra goodies like the M steering wheel clad in high quality leather, dual sports seats (for the driver and front passenger) and an additional driving mode – M+. The exterior gets the M aerodynamic package with sharper looks, and the car can be kitted with leather upholstery options.
Now that BMW has upped the game, let us wait and watch how the car is received by the target clientele – the next few months will be interesting to watch and the sales tally can only give us the truth – if the new 3 series can really fend off the competition from the Mercedes-Benz C class and Audi A4.