[Updated with additional/new engine information and pricing.]
The seventh-generation 2019 BMW 3 Series has made its debut at the Paris Motor Show with a raft of new technology that improves driving dynamics and user-friendliness.
Highlighting the changes in the new 3 Series is a new operating system that debuts a personal assistant that responds to the voice prompt “Hey BMW,” similar to how Siri, Amazon Alexa, or Google Assistant work. Mercedes has also debuted a similar “Hey Mercedes” system in its new A-Class, which also has a brilliant operating system, so these in-car personal assistants will quickly become the norm. Similar to the system in the Benz, BMW’s system can help drivers access the navigation, infotainment, and other functions but learns and gets smarter the more you use it. BMW says you should also be able to talk to it pretty naturally and it will understand you. If you don’t like saying “Hey BMW,” you can give it a name so you can say “Hey Fräulein” or “Hey Klaus” or maybe Günter or Hans. What would you name your BMW? Tell us in the comments below.
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Visually, the new 3 Series isn’t a huge departure, but it does look more aggressive as a whole and more sculpted in certain parts. The new headlights and taillights are the most obvious changes, while the interior looks simplified and has the integrated touchscreen in a better spot. Full LED headlights are standard and adaptive LED headlights with BMW Laserlight with non-dazzling highbeams are optional.
As is standard procedure, the 3 Series grows a bit in all dimensions, allowing more room for passengers and cargo: It’s longer, wider, and just a tiny bit taller, but BMW says it weighs less than the outgoing model. The wheelbase and the track widths have also increased.
Of course, it wouldn’t be a BMW unless it had excellent driving dynamics and the new 3 Series still has a 50/50 weight distribution and comes standard with a lift-related damper control system, which is the first time they will be offered on a BMW. These dampers are continuously variable and adjust the firmness based on changing spring travel, which will help smoothness while driving over rough roads and reduces body roll during cornering. The stiffness of the suspension and structure has also been increased. An M Sport differential that can electronically lock the rear diff for AWD models will be optional. A sad bit of news: Roadshow reports that the 3 Series will no longer we offered with a manual transmission in any market. A revised version of the eight-speed automatic is standard.
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Many engines will be available worldwide at launch, but North America won’t get the diesels, which leaves us with the 2.0L turbo four-cylinder for the 330i, which outputs 258 hp and 295 lb-ft. The zero to 60 mph run happens in 5.6 seconds. The M340i is powered by a new version of the straight six, outputting 382 hp and a peak torque of 369 lb-ft, which gets the sedan to 60 mph in 4.2 seconds. A 330e model is planned for 2020.
The 3 Series takes a step forward by offering a lot of its safety and driver assistance features as standard: lane departure warning, collision warning with pedestrian/cyclist detection and automatic emergency braking in the city. Adaptive cruise control, rear cross traffic alert, rear collision prevention, and Driving Assistant Professional (which includes steering and lane assists), a parking assistant (that can take over steering, acceleration/braking, and gear changes), and a new, larger head up display are optional. The 3 Series also gets a new fully digital and customizable gauge cluster.
This new 3 Series will be built in Munich, China, and Mexico and will be available to buy in March 2019, while the M340i arrives in Spring 2019. In the U.S., pricing for the 330i starts at $40,250 plus $995 in destination fees, while the xDrive version starts at $42,250 plus destination.
More than 15 million 3 Series units have been sold worldwide since it debuted for the first time in 1975, so this is a really important model for the German automaker. The previous 3 Series was already so good that it was difficult to see how they would improve on it even further, but the upgrade should help it continue its successful run.
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