The Incredible Lightness of New 3 Series

3-Series, Featured Posts | April 11th, 2012 by 43
F30 vs e90 3 series comparison 21 750x500

You have the old and the new, and the new is supposedly an improvement. The new 3 Series is obviously larger, more sophisticated and more …

You have the old and the new, and the new is supposedly an improvement. The new 3 Series is obviously larger, more sophisticated and more powerful than its predecessor. But once you lay your eyes on it, is it better looking? Are you struck by its exterior design? How do you define an improvement in looks, especially when there is clear parity in theme, dimensions and functionality.

Before going any further, there is one indelible problem with the F30 and it has to do with an add-on: the front license plate housing for North American models is nonsense. And this is putting it nicely. Looking at a new Mineral Grey 328i without it and an older 335i with the more contoured plate housing tells the difference. BMW, please revise the design to follow just the plates and no excess also.

F30 vs e90 3 series comparison1 655x268

Now about the actual F30 exterior design. Remember the cousin that was slightly chunky before hitting that growth spurt, and the next time you saw him he had chiseled out, lighter, stronger and maybe even a little meaner? The E90 and F30 are exactly that; in comparison the E90 is a little chunky compared to a leaner, lighter but more muscular F30.

Read our review of 2012 BMW 328i

What’s more amazing is how this has been achieved.

Start at the front end. Well both have that menacing hood with four lines pointing the way to the twin-kidneys. But check carefully on the outside lines of the F30. There is a concavity that deftly slides into the fenders. Previous designers would have defined this as flaming or “Banglelized.” No more, this is “muscling”. Much in the way sculptors cut away until they have defined the perfect anatomical feature, the designer has created this perfect sculpted line that “lightens” the whole front end.

Muscling isn’t lost on just the F30 front end, compare the midline on both cars, just below the greenhouse. The F30 adds the same muscling, that concavity to a sweeping heretic line that runs away from the greenhouse and blends into the concavity of the hood. This line is a rebel by any design standard. Non-conforming, not parallel to the greenhouse, not blending into the fender but into the concavity of the hood. This is the lightest, most unique line on the car.

F30 vs e90 3 series1 655x410

And this line has a sibling. The midline just below which marks the stance of the car, is also diverging from its heretic sibling. The midline uses the same concavity of form, but instead of leading the eye to a slab near the backend, it leads you to a lean haunch. The E90 appears almost stubby in comparison.

What about the back end? How has the duality of lightness and muscling been blended into what on the E90 appeared to be an after thought?

That heretic midline that draws your eye to the slight flare of the rear fender also draws you into a thematically tight rear end design. The subtle spoiler on the E90 is now even more pronounced on the F30. The tail lights are narrower and longer, a derivative design element from the F10 5 Series. A single groove outlines the rear diffuser which is nonexistent on the previous 3 Series. There are two marker lights at the bottom of the bumper cover with horizontal lines just above blending into the rear fenders. In short, the taller, broader backend of the F30 appears leaner than the rounder blunter end of the E90 sedan.

Some of our female readers maybe upset with all the talk of muscling and haunchiness, but rest assured that this car is as feminine as it is masculine. The elements of BMW design that have created so much masculinity up close, have created something light, fun and unique from a slight distance. The incredible lightness of the 2012 3 Series makes it almost feminine.

So maybe, just maybe this isn’t that cousin that leaned out and muscled up, but that most beautiful relative that blossomed from one family gathering to the next.

Remember her as you would the new F30.

43 responses to “The Incredible Lightness of New 3 Series”

  1. Pejoviclazar says:

    The old one looks better. Seriously

  2. Lich says:

    F30 looks much better. I hated the 4 contour lines on the hood of the E90. The sharp dip of the grill makes the car look more sporty and aggressive. The sport edition looks amazing.

  3. Derp says:

    The thing I hate is the STUPID hood gap on top of the car.  Seriously.  That looks fantastic on a Crown Victoria.  It’s CRAP on a BMW.  

    • Anonymous says:

      Why can’t we have the kidney grills be part of the hood assembly so the ugly line across, just above the roundel, could be eliminated?

      • Derp says:

        Because the commoditization of BMW is in full swing.  It’s no longer about passion or beauty, or even driving.  It’s about cost.  

      • Dimitrij says:

        Agree , I hate it a lot !!!!

      • LaMa says:

         I agree, that line is horrible and especially on a light colored cars. On a black car it is not as bad, but anything but black color and you have a non-conforming line. It does not follow anything as the writer pointed out.

        He wrote ” … Non-conforming, not parallel to the greenhouse, not blending into the
        fender but into the concavity of the hood. This is the lightest, most
        unique line on the car…”  But while I agree it is unique, it is NOT pretty and NOT nice.

        Too bad they screwed up the otherwise good looking front end.  The full headlight with that long narrow piece looks cheap, kind of like a pep-boys light installed on the car… or is it a built-in eye-crust ?

        either way its a long throw from bungle’s crap so its better the previous design.

      • Anonymous says:

        Yeah, looking at ZHP as weekend cars and I love the integration of the kidney grill with the hood.  Very nice.  

    • pyinte2001 says:

      Agree completely.  Aside from the ugly new nav screen that is my least favorite feature.

  4. pyinte2001 says:

    I can look at the pictures all day long and the F30 does look a bit better especially from the rear, but in person the E90 is far better looking IMO.  Plus the interior of the F30 to me looks cheap.  Depending on what trim you get you may end up with a piece of rubber that looks cheap.  And don’t even get me started on that screen and how is just juts out from the desk.  In the 6 series they wrapped the screen from behind so it blends and looks great.  Not sure why they didn’t do the same in the F30.

  5. BMW The Best says:

    But the new 3 Series is crashed in terms of performance by both the C-Class and Audi A4. 

  6. bmw LOSER says:

    Now BMW isn’t the performance king in its segment anymore since Audi easily kicks BMW’s ass. The A6 does so with the 5 Series, and now so does the A4 with the 3 Series. Even the C-Class tramps the 3er. SHAME ON BMW!!!!!

    • Anonymous says:

      Let me guess, you own an Audi. The regular 335i outperforms the S4 so how exactly is the A4 a better car than the 3 series? C class isnt even in the same league unless you are talking about the AMG version.

      • Anonymous says:

        You driven a 335i F30?  It’s not the same car as the e90 335i.  BMW made it a worse performing car.

        • Anonymous says:

          Really? No I haven’t driven the F30 335i but I do own a 2011 E90 335i and I find it far superior to the A4 which I test drove before purchasing it. What performance has decreased with the F30?

          • Anonymous says:

            Skinnier tires and a far more compliant suspension, mixed in with poorly executed electronic steering makes for a less-than-awe-inspiring drive.  Where my 2007 335i ZSP felt direct and harsh, the F30 lacks road feel through the wheel and seats, while the new emphasis on luxury over performance allows the car to wallow through corners.  It may put up higher numbers with its electronic nannies but you’d never be able to tell behind the wheel.  And those eco friendly skinny tires…yikes.  

        • Belal says:

          How could the F30 335i be less preforming than the E90 335i ? scince the N55 if u know better is a TwinPower Turbo technology. Handling, or what exactly??    

      • StraightSix says:

        F30 335i does not outperform S4.

        • Anonymous says:

          Your link I’m afraid makes absolutely no sense; from that comparo test you determined the Audi is better? They didn’t even score the Audi better so why would you use that data as an example of Audi’s ‘superiority’?

          • BMW The Best says:

            Read the performance figures, ignorant blind fanboy and accept the bitter truth, i.e. BMW 3 Series is inferior to both Mercedes C-Class and Audi A4 in terms of performance.

          • Anonymous says:

            Maybe YOU should read the figures again; you have yet to back up your claim with actual fact. You post a link to a comparo test that the BMW wins yet use it to show the Audi is better? State something specific or admit defeat!

          • BMW The Best says:

            I said that Audi A4 and Mercedes C-Class are better performance vehicles than the 3 Series according to the road test. So read carefully and don’t make stupid comments.

          • Anonymous says:

            Stick to the facts please and show me a direct quote then because I read the whole article and the data you linked to and I don’t see any mention of what you claim. If you are stating personal opinion then fine, everyone is entitled to one. But if you are claiming the article backs your opinion then show me where; don’t just say read the article, And BTW, I’m sure calling people who dont agree with you “fanboy” & “stupid” makes you feel like a man but its really not necessary in this discussion.

          • pyinte2001 says:

            Troll.  You clearly didn’t even read the numbers.  If you hate BMW so much why are you on this site?  Because you are a troll you freakin’ loser.

    • Fredyschiftan says:

      Shame on you !!  go read every car magazine the 3 series has KILLED all these followers !!  Before you write something please learn to READ then give your silly opinion which, by the way is not important to us REAL  BMW  people  .

    • FreudeKing says:

      Seriously??? You coming with your Audi that uses the same cheap engine and parts as VW and comparing it to premium cars like BMW??? Please, if you cannot afford a BMW then by all means buy an Audi but don’t come start comparing your VW with BMWs.

      • BMW The Best says:

        That cheap VW engine and chassis put to shame the premium BMW. The same applies to the A6 humiliating the 5 Series performance-wise. So if we follow your empty logic, BMW is inferior to VW. So get silent, kid.

  7. Anonymous says:

    I like the rear of the new car but prefer the old front. Side view is pretty much the same. Interior on the new is more stylish except for that nav screen sticking up from the dash; it looks like it should retract but it doesn’t.

  8. Anonymous says:

    In person the f30 looks like a damned barge.  It’s long and wide.  Just a massive expanse of metal.  Even worse, it feels every inch its increased mass (regardless of BMW’s original lies about the car being lighter).  Finally, add in one more thing: it’s far more expensive to add simple features as BMW has eradicated ala carte ordering.  What was once a simple proposition: 328i, manual, ZSP, leather and xenons now requires adding on the ludicrous (and worthless) premium package.  So decent lighting now requires a moonroof?! Can’t see returning to the fold unless it’s for a used e90 M3.

  9. auaq says:

    Stop whining please, when the new successor to the f30 comes out, we’ll all start criticizing it against the now more accepted and beloved f30. Same thing happened when the e90 came out and everyone started to dislike it first when compared it to the e46, now everyone loves the e90. Sigh!

  10. When is the coupe going to be redesigned 

  11. Anonymous says:

    I would have loved if the F30 had the same dimensions as the E90, that definitely would have made it lighter.  

  12. Audipage says:

    The older model was particularly better as the things look much sportier. The newer model has some traditional sort of looks that don’t define the new era of cars.

  13. AL says:

    Hate the front,end, it has one serious overbite!

  14. John says:

    The new one looks better than the old one in some aspects. I like Audi.

  15. shubb says:

    To my knowledge which isn’t that great, it looks to me like the front end picture at least is not even an F30. As far as I’ve been able to tell by looking at pictures and the bmw website only the 5 series has hood lines like that coming from the hood emblem and going back. Maybe I’m wrong but haven’t seen a 3 series in person with those.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *