WITH MORE than 14m cars sold, it is the benchmark by which posh saloons are judged, but even BMW’s 3-series can’t afford to stand still. The German car maker is setting out to improve its bestselling model further still, giving it a facelift and a new range of engines as it responds to competition from, among others, the new Jaguar XE, the latest Mercedes-Benz C-class and the upcoming next-generation Audi A4.
The revised 3-series goes on sale to British drivers in July, but pricing has still to be confirmed. Its facelift is as subtle as a tiny shot of Botox, with spot-the-difference changes to the bumpers and the inclusion of optional LED headlamps and standard LED tail-lamps. Inside, the cabin has undergone slight changes that are meant to give the car “a classier impression”.
It’s under the bonnet that the only significant changes take place for the 3-series. A new three-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine is used in the 318i, which replaces the old 316i model as the entry-level petrol model. The 134bhp 1.5-litre engine is also used in the Mini Cooper.
The 320i model gets a new 181bhp four-cylinder petrol engine. A tuned version of the same unit, with 248bhp, now powers the 330i, and a six-cylinder petrol engine with 322bhp will power the 340i.
More popular with British drivers are the diesel-powered models. The range will start with the 316d (114bhp), followed by the 318d (148bhp) but the bestselling versions are the 320d and 320d Efficient Dynamics, which have 188bhp and 161bhp respectively. A more powerful 330d will feature a 255bhp six-cylinder diesel engine, and the 335d gets 310bhp.
Four-wheel drive, or xDrive as BMW calls it, will be available as an option on the 320i, 320d and 330d, and standard on the 335d. A simplified navigation system, known as Business Navigation, will be standard on all new 3-series models.
Next year BMW will add a plug-in hybrid to the 3-series family. To be called the 330e, it will have the petrol engine from the 320i and a 107bhp electric motor to achieve emissions of just 49g/km, making it much more tax-efficient for company-car drivers.
Pricing will be announced later, but BMW said any increase would be slight. An average rise of £400 across the range is expected.