BMW, the well appreciated German auto maker, has launched yet another new version of its 3 Series model in the Indian auto market. Interestingly, the model is currently in its sixth generation series and around 40 year’s old brand for BMW. The new 3 Series features both cosmetic and technical changes. It is believed that 3 Series is counted among the best models BMW has ever introduced, thanks to its sophisticated features and captivating looks.
EXTERIORS AND STYLE
The BMW F30 3-Series recently received a minor facelift which is called Life Cycle Impulse (LCI) in BMW lingo. As a part of the facelift, the sedan now gets new LED headlamps and tail lights along with a revised front bumper and new alloys. However, the M-Sport variant that we have here comes with the M-Sport package on the outside that includes both the front and rear bumpers along with some subtle M badging. The car looks sexy as ever but it takes a sharp eye to tell the pre-LCI and LCI versions apart. The M-Sport kit ups the sporty appeal of the car and attracts that little bit more attention.
CABIN AND SPACE
The interiors of the 3 Series haven’t changed much. Despite the M body kit, it doesn’t get the sporty interiors. The 3 Series with M badging earlier came with sporty red and black interiors while this doesn’t get that. The new BMW steering wheel is sleek and good to grip. The instrument binnacle is similar to the previous 3. The centre console too remains unchanged. The rectangular AC vents with a large screen and then there are the controls for music system and air-con. The 3 Series comes with the same gear lever, which easy to push and pull back when using the optronic mode. There are paddle shifts too to use. The 3 now even gets the head-up display feature too on the M Sport variant, which wasn’t there earli
The 3 Series has spacious interiors and the front two seats can be adjusted electrically. The leather is of high quality, but it does feel very manly. This misses out the softness that other luxury cars offer. But that is how all BMWs have normally been. It is all about the enjoying the drive and better support. The rear seats too have sufficient space and support. There are AC vents at the back too. Our press demonstrator came with a spare wheel that ate some of our boot space. As BMW doesn’t offer even a space saver, there is no space in the boot for it.
ENGINE AND PERFORMANCE
To keep the mechanicals up to date BMW has plonked a brand new 2.0-litre diesel engine under the 320d’s hood. The new B47-designated unit gives a slight 6bhp and 20Nm increase over the old N47 engine. Although the 90.0mm bore and 84.0mm stroke measurements are the same as before, BMW claims the B48 is new from the ground up.
It gets a new Bosch injection system which operates at a higher 2000bar pressure as compared to the 1800bar on the old engine. It also features seven-holed injector nozzles for more precise fuel flow and combustion. It also gets a new Honeywell variable geometry turbocharger that suffers nearly 50 per cent less in frictional losses thanks to new bearings. BMW has also dumped the ZF automatic unit for the Aisin made 8-speed gearbox.
The first thing you notice as soon as you start this motor is that there is a definite improvement in refinement. It settles down to a pretty quiet idle. Step on the gas and the immediate responses of the engine are quite impressive. The 320d accelerates in an extremely linear manner and this makes it deceptively quick. This is a quick car, whisking you forward from as little as 1500rpm and it’s only when you look at the head-up display that you realise that you’re going much faster than you anticipated. Unlike most diesels, the action is not only concentrated in the lower reaches of the powerband. This motor is very free-revving and visits to the redline are pleasurable. The new eight-speed automatic gearbox is on the money too. It makes the most of the engine’s power and the gearshifts are fast yet very smooth and precise with minimal jerks. In Sport mode, it hangs onto revs longer, kicks down faster, and in Sport Plus, through paddle shifters, you can hold on to every gear and decide when you want to shift.
The 320d registered mighty quick times on our Vbox equipment. It just takes 7.14 seconds to reach 100kph, which makes it 0.6sec faster than the old car, and 150kph comes up in a very impressive 17.27 seconds. These impressive times are also thanks to the launch control the 320d M Sport comes equipped with. Thanks to the potent gearbox, the in-gear times even in eco-pro mode are pretty brisk. 20-80kmph takes a scant 4.85 seconds and the 40-100kmph sprint is completed in an equally impressive 6.1 second.
RIDE AND HANDLING
Its body control and the accuracy with which steering inputs are translated onto the road would shame many an out-and-out sports car, let alone other family holdalls. And, it should be said now, you do not need the sports suspension option to enjoy these benefits.
Indeed, if it’s ride quality tht matters, you should stay on the standard springs. They let the car breathe with the road and, unless you’re at track speed, they have no ill effect on the handling. In such guise you’ll drive not only the best-handling car in the class, but the best-riding one, too. At times its ability to soak up long wave undulations at speed give the impression that the car is air sprung
In order to ascertain complete safety of its passengers, BMW 3 Series has highly effective deformation zones, which helps in reducing the impact of a collision. Apart from this, the car comes loaded with dynamic stability control that prevents and stabilizes the vehicle from skidding. A total of 6 airbags ensure that none of the occupants get injured in case of an unwanted situation. The car has seat belts for all the passengers, while a warning triangle and first aid kit in case of emergency is also provided in the car.
The 3 Series has always been more of a statement for buyers in this segment with its dynamic appeal and sporty feel. If you enjoy driving, the M Sport Package is what you should look at, as it includes a lot of subtle styling tweaks over the regular car that bring it closer to the M cars in terms of feel inside, while looking smashing. The 3 Series has been the choice of buyers wanting a fun to drive luxury sedan, and the refreshed 3 Series carries the tradition forward while offering much better comfort and luxury in the same sporty package.