Once the standard bearer in its segment, the BMW 3 Series has lost its way in recent years. Lackluster acceleration, uninspired handling, and a dated interior have relegated the 3 Series to the middle of the pack. Now, the automaker is introducing the seventh generation, and it has the potential to put the popular model back on top.
Hinting at its sportier ambitions is the new exterior design. Up front, the kidney grilles are now connected and feature thick surrounds. Redesigned front vents contribute to the more determined look. Full LED headlights are standard, but buyers can also spring for optional adaptive headlights with Laserlight technology, featuring blue L-shaped elements. In the rear, the 3 Series has narrower taillights with a new lighting signature. Despite the slightly bolder look, the car has grown compared to its predecessor. It’s 2.9 inches longer, 0.6 inches wider, and 0.5 inches taller, with an increased track width front and rear.
No matter which variant you choose, BMW is making big promises for improved ride and handling. Along with reducing wind noise and enhancing the steering feel, BMW also tweaked its all-wheel-drive system, allowing it to split drive torque between the front and rear wheels more evenly.
Body rigidity has increased by 25 percent. Additionally, new lift-related dampers help reduce body movement over the model’s predecessor. This feature consists of extra hydraulic damping at the front axle and a compression limiting system at the rear, and it continuously adjusts the firmness of the damper to changes in spring travel. Both the standard and optional M Sport suspensions benefit from this technology.
An Adaptive M suspension promises even better responses with electronically controlled dampers and the ability to deliver damping force separately to each wheel with continuously adjustable valves. BMW says it’s now easier to distinguish between the different Comfort and Sport modes on this suspension. Adaptive mode is also now available.
The BMW 330i goes on sale next March with a starting price of $41,195. All-wheel-drive versions are priced from $43,245. M340i models will arrive in dealerships sometime in the spring.