The BMW 3 Series Verdict

The BMW 3 Series is to the BMW badge what gin is to tonic – hard to imagine apart and one of the main reasons for their reputation and long history of success. First built in the mid-1970s, it has now gone through 7 generations to remain the best selling marque of the BMW stable accounting for 30% of BMW sales.

The exciting news is that there are three body shapes to choose from in the new  2019/ 2020 range: Saloon ( known at BMW as the G20 shape ), the Touring station wagon ( the G21 shape) and the 5 door Gran Turismo hatchback. Just as exciting is the fact that the 6th generation 3 Series BMWs still look like a dream and drive amazingly and you can pick up a nearly new or used 3 Series positively oozing with value if you look through our current offers which can be found here.  

Either way, you are onto a winner with the existing shape or the new shape BMW 3 Series, but let’s take a closer look as to what is different with the new G20/21 3 Series?

The first thing to note is that a great deal of the components on the new shape is brand new. Whilst there are obviously some differences to body shapes and the engines, the interior layouts are pretty similar in standard mode.

Practical Dimension and features

There’s a longer wheelbase than the previous model. It’s 85mm longer which translates into about 40mm more space between the wheel arches and this, in turn, leads to 11mm more space for rear-seat passengers and hence, more legroom which is a boon for adults in the back. 

The rear seats fold down in a 40/20/40 configuration for convenient loading of longer items, though in truth the boot space on the saloon is exactly the same as the old model, 480 litres. The GT models don’t have much more boot space – only 520 litres in total- which is a bit disappointing considering the high derriere of the GTs which promise much in the bootie department but doesn’t really deliver while the hybrid models lose even more boot space to the battery. 

The new Touring does, however, come standard with automatic tailgate opening while the Gran Turismo’s heavy tailgate is electrically operated to save your back but its main space trick is a surprisingly larger load area ( 90 litres larger) than the Touring (1,510 litres) with the seats flat.

On the Inside

BMW have kept the rotary iDrive dial for the control of the onboard infotainment screen, thank goodness, as it’s much easier to operate than some of the touch screens in its competitors and that makes a difference when you are driving through spray on the M6 on a cold and rainy November morning where the intuitive iDrive helps you to focus on what counts. 

Don’t worry if you’re into more tech though, with the new 3 Series you can still use the voice-activated BMW Intelligent Personal Assistant control.

You’ll also get Sat Nav, a DAB radio, Bluetooth and Apple Car Play – though not to have these in a luxury German car these days would be rather strange of course as they were already there in the previous model. Options also allow for upgraded sound systems, hand gesture controls to help with phone and volume, wireless smartphone charging and a wifi hotspot connector which is the latest must-have accessory.

Parking is aided by the Parking Assistant system that will steer you without fuss into suitable spaces, as well as front and rear sensors and a rearview camera. An optional 360-degree camera is also available.

Lighting by high-intensity LED’s is standard but can be upgraded to adaptive light shaping laser beams with reputed penetration of around 350 metres into the gloom ahead.

Overall, the seating is still BMWstyle comfortable and the usual BMW interior finishes are going to make all previous Beemer owners feel right at home but the technical advances in and of themselves may struggle to support a new purchase when compared to the value that can be found in a nearly new 6th generation 3 series.

M Series

As we sell so many M Sport BMWs at Hippo, they deserve a little extra consideration.

Although this new 3 Series version has been stuffed with more tech, it’s lighter than the previous series, has a lower centre of gravity and much-improved suspension. This leads to impeccable cornering control, and yes, it is a stiffer ride, but as a sporty saloon in M Sport guise, it is not unduly unpleasant. It is in fact, very refined.

In a package that gives you lower sport suspension, the M Sport aggressive body kit, front and rear sport bumpers and a choice of 18 or 19-inch wheels housed in flared out arches. You get a choice of three unique paints and loads of extra options if you go with the M Sport Plus edition which comes in October.

Between diesel and petrol engines, there is a choice of eight power plants, mostly 2 litre 4 cylinder, with 3 litre 6 cylinder engines in the 330d and 335i models.

Couple this with extremely good fuel economy for its class type; it is worth a very serious look and of course the M Sport is great fun to drive!

Driving

BMW have always prided themselves as being producers of ‘Drivers Cars’. Nothing has changed. Nevertheless, remember, they are often stiffer than your average saloon on the road, and that means that you will experience a bit more action through the suspension. Straight up Beemer style!

A lot of this is because BMW has stiffened up the body of this new series by 25%, have lowered the centre of gravity and balanced the axle load distribution, all without increasing the overall weight of the vehicle.

With the wide range of motors, suspension and performance options, you can choose how far you want to go with the overall performance. Suffice it to say that this ranges from 0 to 62 at the bottom end 316d in around 11 seconds to just under 5 seconds in the 340i / 335d. 

At entry-level, you can choose manual or Auto, but beyond all come with 8-speed auto boxes, save for the top M Sports versions with the Plus Pack options.

Now let’s look at differences in the three options and also compare against the current model for value.

The 3 Series Saloon

When first introduced in the 1970s the 3 Series arrived as a two-door car. It has now grown up into a mid-sized all-purpose family and executive business vehicle. The main body change from the previous model is that you will notice that the side body crease now sits below the door handles, and the bonnet sits racier and lower over the front wheels. There are also no vents behind the front wheel arches.

The interior is comfortably laid out with good head and legroom for the class, and the new dash and infotainment system is a gem. It feels like a minor version of the 5 Series.

There are five engines to choose from, diesel and petrol, manual and 8-speed auto with as previously mentioned, a host of optional extras. At the top end, you can also opt for the M340i xDrive, a four-wheel-drive pocket rocket that is almost as fast as the last M3 and will do the 0-62 mph test in about 4.4 seconds.

BMW has however spent some time with noise dampening and improving the stiff drive of previous versions, so this Series is quieter and more tractable than before. It is a pleasure to drive.

The middle of the range Sport gives good value for money with a few extras such as sporty bumpers and bigger 18-inch wheels, plus heated leather front seats but how does the new 3 series saloon compare to the pre 2019/20 model?

Yes, most of the components are new, the new model is lighter and efficiencies are better but the old Saloon still holds its own so if you are after value then you should consider our nearly new and used models which are only a phone call away on 01254 916 450 or email us on info@hippomotorgroup.co.uk today.

The 3 Series Touring

Normally an estate is a reason to celebrate mediocrity where consumers give up zest, looks, pace and flair to accommodate practicality and the need to get 3 large bags and the dog in the back when going on a Summer holiday. That’s not the case with the new 3 Series Touring but, to be fair, neither is it the case with the outgoing model as this is an estate that loses nothing from the Sedan but gains more space and practicality for a family professional that needs a bit more space at the week-ends.

There are more than reasonable additional storage spaces in the Touring, including a bin under the centre front armrest, plus divided spaces in the front doors. The rear-wheel-drive leaves a telltale hump in the back, which reduces some foot space, but not a problem for kids or adults on shorter journeys. 

The release levers for the back seats are in easy reach for folding down for larger loads – frequently an issue in estates where designers look for a sleek look when all you want is an ability to lower the seats easily when going on the monthly run to the dump. If you need to do this often, as an option, you could also go for a new electric backrest release. 

The new Touring is a winner but the 6th gen model still compares very favourably in almost all facets. You give up a bit on the new tech side but in essence, it’s still a very similar car.

The 3 Series Gran Turismo

There is no question that this ‘hatchback-coupe-style’ version of the 3 Series is the best looker of the three models. 

The GT version of the 3 Series is longer and taller than the Touring, allowing for more room inside, which helps with more legroom in the back, and surprisingly more storage space in the seat fold-down position. However, the large sloping sporty hatchback does impinge somewhat on loading the more bulky items.

It’s more comfortable for rear-seated passengers as you can change the backrest angles of the two main seats. The tailgate is electrically powered by moving your foot below the rear bumper and the bigger glassed area of the GT also improves overall visibility.

Dependant on which engine you choose, you can opt for frugal fuel economy or sporty performance. 0-62mph in 9.3 seconds with around 60 plus mpg and £35k for the 320d, versus 0-62 mph in 4.9 seconds with less than 45mpg for the 335i at a price of around £46k. Be warned, there is a multitude of options between. Your choice!

The tables below will give you an idea of the sort of performance figures you can reasonably expect from a broad choice of some of the models available.

SEDAN / TOURINGMPG(Comb)HPCO20-62 MPH
318i50 / 54135122 / 1378.9 / 9.2
320i45 / 51184129 / 1477.2 / 7.5
340i36 / 41326159 / 1795.2 / 2.1
316d61 / 68116109 / 12010.7 / 11.2
320d60 / 67190111 / 1228.5 / 8.9
335d xDriveM Sport49 / 51313145 / 1514.8 / 4.9

GRAN TURISMOMPG(Comb)HPCO20-62 MPH
320i/SE/Sport451841438.1
320i M Sport442521476.1
340i M Sport373261735.1
320d SE581901369.3
320d M Sport531901367.9
335xDrive M Sport443131684.9

BMW has done a great job with this newly updated series that is once again the leader of the pack in its class! If you are after a brand new 3 series in a saloon, estate or grand tourer style we can of course accommodate but we also have fantastic offers on nearly new and used 3 series cars from the previous generation which you can find here.

The new Saloon is fantastic of course and deserves all the plaudits it will get but the 6th generation model still has a lot to shout about. At any one time, we are bound to have over 20 BMW 3 Series Saloons in stock. Right now we have the people’s favourite 320D in M Sport shadow edition ( 4 of these to be precise), standard M Sports ( if you can call an M Sport stand), baseline SE versions and all of the derivatives in between including the Efficient Dynamic plus line. All of these vehicles compare very favourably with the new model and because BMW 3 Series has high residual values, this translates into excellent PCP and HP deals – simply contact us on 01254 916 450 or email us on info@hippomotorgroup.co.uk today.

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01254 916450