Can you believe that the BMW 3 Series is celebrating its 40th birthday? And since its birth in 1975, over 14 million units of the model have been delivered worldwide. Say what you will about the ubiquity of the German – but with its blend of dynamism, sharp aesthetics and badge appeal, it is usually the first choice for those in want of a sedan with sporting credentials. BMW has taken the scalpel to the existing F30, giving it aesthetic tweaks, plusher materials inside and a revised engine range. In BMW parlance, this is called a Life Cycle Improvement (LCI). That’s a facelift to the rest of us. Let’s start with what’s different on the outside.
Up front, there are new aprons with redesigned air intakes said to “accentuate” the feeling of width. Those headlights are new too, with LED indicators now positioned as “eyebrows” – and BMW says this gives an impression that the car is concentrating. There are also two LED daytime running lights – and you can specify a Selective Beam system, which adjusts the lights using actuators, promising to offer illumination in all conditions without dazzling oncoming traffic. At the rear, the lights were tweaked with a more distinctive L-shape and as is the case with the front, there are LED indicators.
Not much has been changed on the inside, save for some chrome highlights here and there, in addition to glossy black surfaces. More ambient lighting has been thrown into the mix. And the cupholders in the centre console now have a sliding cover. It’s all very minor – and the biggest talking point could be what lies under the hood. The range has been revised. First up is the 318i (100kW and 220Nm); powered by the 1.5-litre, three-cylinder engine from the Mini and 2 Series Active Tourer. The 320i (135kW and 290Nm); 320d (140kW and 400Nm) and 330d (190kW and 560Nm) remain unchanged, save for the extra 20Nm for the 320i and 5kW in the 320d. But the 335i is no more. Instead, the 340i will bear the torch as the top-tier model in the range – before the M3 (and M4) of course.
The 340i is powered by an all-new 3.0-litre engine. As before, it has six cylinders – and it’s turbocharged. The figures have been bumped up by 15kW and 50Nm of torque, taking things to 240kW and 450Nm. This is good for a 0-100km/h sprint of 5.1 seconds and according to BMW, carbon emissions are down by 10 percent. There are other derivatives too, like the 330e plug-in hybrid. But it is not confirmed for our market. In addition, the 328i is likely to be replaced by the 330i moniker, boasting around 185kW and 350Nm, only 5kW more than its predecessor.
In addition to these changes, BMW claims that the optional navigation system has been upgraded to run faster, while offering a more realistic 3D display. The Parking Assistant is also available as an option, which allows the car to steer into a bay itself. And lastly, the M3 has not been forgotten. It too gains the newly designed lights, plus additional colour choices. The new 3 Series goes on sale locally in September 2015, while pricing will be announced in due course.