Editorial: Thoughts On the New BMW 3 Series

3-Series | October 14th, 2011 by 8

The F30 3 Series sedan represents the sixth generation of the 3er. BMW followed the captivating 2002 with the 3 series, and while the 2002 …

The F30 3 Series sedan represents the sixth generation of the 3er. BMW followed the captivating 2002 with the 3 series, and while the 2002 brought the buzz to the brand, the 3 series brought the sales.

The E36 3er was the last of the truly ‘compact’ 3 series. The F30 may be bigger than the original E23 7 series (a quick check of the numbers show that the wheelbase of the F30 3er is just a smidgen longer than the E23 7er).

Another odd comparison to the E23 7 is that the top of the line 745i produced 249 HP from a 3.4L turbo charged I6, about on a par with the entry level F30 328i.

The proliferation of ConnectedDrive ‘apps’ continues. And an odd feature, the trunk opening sensor on cars with Comfort Access, is brought to the 3er. I demo’d the feature in Frankfurt, it would be handy when you have your hands full.

There is no word on when and what diesel engine options will be available on the 3er in the US. My hope would be for a 325d – a fairly quick and exceptionally frugal turbo four. In 525d guise it accelerates decently and returns excellent fuel mileage. It can only be better in the F30 chassis.

The F30 3er gets additional themed ‘lines’. Whereas the new 1er has the base, Sport, and Urban lines available, the 3er gets the base, Sport, Luxury, Modern, and soon the M Sport lines. So is the Modern line a nod to ‘hipsters’? And why can’t we mix and match from the various themes? (Will the 3er be available as a BMW Individual? Maybe the coupe model eventually?)

The move to electrically assisted rack & pinion power steering will cause untold amounts of wailing and gnashing of teeth from enthusiasts. But the fuel economy gains are to significant to ignore. We’ll have to look to see how the next M3 handles power steering – we know how the latest M5 does.

The new 3er has a good sized trunk, almost 17 cubic feet. The ActiveHybrid 3, however, steals some of the trunk space for the battery pack, it chews up about four cubic feet of the available space.

The 8 speed automatic is now available throughout the model lines. It really does help with fuel economy. It is light and adds two overdrive ratios beyond a six speed auto. It shifts quickly and can utilize the fuel saving Active Start-Stop features. I know some folks complain about how the tranny shifts, but what I’ve found is that you have to ‘drive it like you stole it’ to get the most out of it. However, so much for the better fuel economy at that point . . .

I feel as if the 1, 3, 5, & 7 styling has been reined in to set them apart from the i sub-brand and potentially some other offerings that may be in the works. It would make some sense for them echo their commonality visually, especially if you were about to introduce other models that break the mold.

  • Bry

    I think the styling is great. I think the comments that it will look like a miniature 5-series can be put to rest. This is an aggressive looking sedan that will certainly appeal to young consumers as well as old. I’m certainly more impressed than I thought I would be. This is, without a doubt, BMW’s flagship model.

  • m.Pertz

    This is “without a doubt” a JOKE!!!! 

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  • Patrick Lien

    There are a couple of touches in the F30 that reference i-series design language:

    1. The way the headlights connect to the kidney grill causes a surface break that is reminiscent of the way the roof/trunk line and rear fenders are separated in the i8.
    2. The differing materials in front of the passenger on the dashboard recalls the surface layering on the lower sides of the i8.

    Both impart some sense of third dimension into those respective surfaces, and this addition of a 3rd dimension through layering seems to be a key part of BMW’s design language moving forward.

  • Fad

    e39 and e46 are the last BMW cars…..this is a toyota with a bmw badge .

  • Anonymous

    I wonder if my 2011 6 speed GTI with Stage 1 tuning could take this new Beemer

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