What's the news?
While we might be living in an increasingly SUV-oriented era of car consumerism, this is nevertheless huge automotive news - it's the all-new, seventh-generation of BMW's most important, core model, the 3 Series, and it has been revealed for the first time in full at the Paris Motor Show. Here's what you need to know about the car codenamed the 'G20'.
Familiar within the existing range of BMW saloon models, the styling of the 2019 3 Series is nevertheless evolutionary in a number of regards. It now has the new BMW trademark, which are whopping kidney grilles that are actually surrounding by a one-piece frame, while even the brand's long-time hallmark - the Hofmeister kink at the rear-lower edge of the back windows - has been 'revisioned'. Up front resides a new type of twin-icon headlights, complete with a triangle of body trim that cuts into their centres, and at the back are very slim, 3D light clusters. It's a good-looking car, no doubt about it.
It's also bigger in all dimension than the old Mk6 3 Series, at 4,709mm tip to tail (+76mm), 1,827mm across the beam (+16mm) and 1mm taller, at 1,442mm. The wheelbase is stretched by 41mm to 2,851mm on the new car, while the track widths of both axles are increased - by 43- and 21mm, front and rear respectively. This last detail couples in with a few more - such as a weight reduction of up to 55kg, perfect 50:50 distribution of that weight, a bodyshell that has more torsional rigidity by up to 50 per cent and a drag coefficient trimmed from 0.26 to 0.23 now - to allow BMW to claim that the 3 Series will be better to drive than ever, even in its more basic specifications. Meanwhile, standard equipment will include full LED head- and taillights, with BMW's fancy 530-metre-beaming laser lights an option.
BMW has gone to town on the Three's cabin, centring everything around its advanced new operating system, iDrive 7.0. Standard equipment sees a 5.7-inch digital instrument cluster paired to an 8.8-inch centre console display, but go for BMW Live Cockpit Professional and you get the all-singing, all-dancing set-up of a 12.3-inch instrument cluster and a 10.25-inch Control Display. BMW's iDrive 7.0 - which the company now refers to as Operating System 7.0, indicating its shift to multimodal controls - can be commanded by touch on the Control Display, using the iDrive Controller or steering wheel buttons, and with either gesture or voice control, the latter linking to a new BMW Intelligent Personal Assistant; this is described as an 'intelligent digital personality' integrated into the car. Think of it as enhanced voice control, which you have to enable by saying 'Hey BMW...' to get started.
On points of practicality, the 3 Series features more elbow- and shoulder-room in the front seats, greater legroom in and better access to the rear, improved rear visibility for the driver and a 480-litre boot with 'better usability' than the preceding model, with a 40:20:40 split backrest now a standard feature. A baffling array of driver assist safety systems will be provided, either as standard or as options, LED interior lighting comes on all variants, there's a banging Harman Kardon 16-speaker surround-sound system on offer and BMW says it has acoustically optimised the interior for comfort by cramming the A-pillars with foam while fitting acoustic glass in the windscreen - the same stuff can be fitted to the side windows too, if customers so wish.
BMW has confirmed six disparate models for launch, the vast majority of them being powered by four-cylinder engines, with a solitary six-cylinder in the line-up... for now. Already, an M Performance version and a plug-in hybrid variant of the G20 are confirmed for later in 2019, but let's focus on the opening salvo.
The two petrol models are the four-cylinder 320i (184hp/300Nm) and 330i (258hp/400Nm). Both are rear-wheel drive and have an eight-speed automatic transmission as standard, with the 320i capable of 0-100km/h in 7.2 seconds and 238km/h flat out, while returning bests of 5.7 litres/100km (49.6mpg) with as little as 129g/km CO2. The 330i's equivalent stats are 5.8 seconds, 250km/h, 5.8 litres/100km (48.7mpg) and 132g/km.
Then there are the diesels. Three engines and two drive sources lead to four models, which are the 318d, 320d, 320d xDrive and the only six-cylinder diesel motor in the 330d. Power outputs are 150-, 190- and 265hp, and both the 318d and 320d come with a six-speed manual as standard, with the Steptronic auto an option, while the 320d xDrive and 330d are auto only. Unsurprisingly, the greenest is the 318d, with 4.1 litres/100km (68.9mpg) and 108g/km CO2 potential returns, while the fastest is the 330d - it'll run 0-100km/h in 5.5 seconds and is limited to 250km/h.
Beyond the engines, there will be various levels of suspension available - including an M Sport set-up with lowered ride height and Adaptive M suspension, too - while variable Sport steering, M Sport brakes, an electronically controlled M Sport differential and up to 19-inch light alloy wheels on grippy tyres will all help to sharpen what should already be a pretty sharp machine anyway.
The seventh-generation BMW 3 Series is expected to go on sale in early 2019. We drive it next month, so keep an eye on the BMW 3 Series reviews page for that test drive.