BMW is fresh off of its release of the new 3 Series LCI, which made some minor updates to the F30 3er, such as headlights, taillights, some interior bits and some chassis tweaks. This update was very much needed, especially the chassis tweaks, being that the 3 Series now resides in some very fast moving competition. The new Mercedes C-Class is an excellent all-rounder. It may not have quite the handling chops that the 3 Series has, though it doesn’t handle like a wheelbarrow either, but it may edge the 3er out in terms of luxury.
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So the C Class is a complete package. The Audi A4 is growing quite old, but should be updated very soon. Lexus’ IS is becoming more and more competent and Cadillac seems to be snagging all of the headlines, with its ATS. The point of all of this is, the BMW 3 Series is facing stiffer competition than ever. So did BMW do enough with the 3 Series LCI?
Once you notice the changes of the new LCI 3 Series, you can see that quite clearly. Admittedly, though, it takes quite a while to notice them, as they aren’t very apparent. The exterior didn’t need much updating, as it wasn’t bad looking, but the new headlights, taillights and front intakes just tighten the whole package up. The M Sport Line is the most handsome of the bunch, with the other Lines being a bit more dull.
The slight interior tweaks have actually made great strides in rectifying some material and quality complaints the pre-LCI car had. And while the F30 3 Series’ interior is excellent, in terms of design and ergonomics, it still lacks a bit compared to the C Class.
The chassis and steering tweaks, along with the updated powertrains, should be where BMW leaps ahead of its competition. When the F30 originally debuted, it was given a sort of lukewarm welcome, as many felt that its driver connection lacked a bit from its E90 predecessor. It still handles great, it just seems to be muted. Many prefer the Cadillac ATS’ steering and handling to the F30, which is painful to BMW faithful. However, now that BMW has had some time to benchmark its stiff competition, and made some tweaks to the chassis and steering rack, it’s a good possibility that the post-LCI F30 gets its Mojo back.
The real Ace up BMW’s sleeve is in the powertrain department. BMW has never faltered to its competition, in terms of powertrains. This is especially true for BMW’s N55 turbocharged I6 engine in the F30. The N55 is one of the smoothest, most linear and enjoyable engines on the market and leaps and bounds ahead of everything else in its class. BMW will be launching a new B58 3.0 liter, turbocharged straight-six engine in the upcoming 340i and should be a monster of an engine. With 326 hp, compared to the 300 hp in the 335i, the 340i should pack a serious punch. The upcoming 330i will feature a turbocharged four-cylinder engine making 252 hp, up 12 from its 328i predecessor which is already fastest and most economical in class. The new engines, if a truly an upgrade over the outgoing ones, should blow the competition away, being that their predecessors already do.
With Audi readying a new A4, Mercedes’ new C-Class gaining world-wide praise and Cadillac relentlessly hunting BMW, the LCI F30 3 Series has its work cut out for it. Hopefully this new update is enough to keep the 3er on top of the segment. Only time will tell, but I can’t wait to find out.