CLAR Platform for Combustion & PHEV 3 Series, Neue Klasse for Electric Models
The success story of the BMW 3 Series will continue in 2027, but with a twist. For the first time, the popular 3 Series will be manufactured on two distinct platforms. The CLAR (rear-wheel drive) architecture will underpin the gasoline, diesel and plug-in hybrid 3 Series, while the electric variants will use the Neue Klasse architecture. Therefore, the 2027 BMW 3 Series will present an interesting proposition to potential customers. One one hand, the Neue Klasse-based i3 (3 Series electric) will be the more futuristic/avantgarde model, while the CLAR-based 3 Series will take a more conservative path when it comes to design. Of course, some of the technology transfer will flow from the Neue Klasse to the G50 sedan and G51 touring models.
Today, we will focus on the 2027 BMW 3 Series G50 and G51 models. BMW has often said that various markets around the world are not ready to embrace a full electric journey. By offering a G50/G51 3 Series lineup, BMW can continue to offer a mix of different models, from gasoline-powered to plug-in hybrids. So we expect the “regular” 2027 BMW 3 Series to still deliver significant sales numbers well into 2030.
The B58 Cylinder Lives On With The M350
The top model in the 2027 BMW 3 Series lineup will be the M350. The M Performance Model replaces the current M340i and will continue to use the popular B58 3.0 liter six-cylinder engine. Why the M350 without an “i”? Simply because BMW is looking to simplify their model naming convention; if that’s still possible. For example, the gasoline-powered cars will drop the “i”, the plug-in hybrids will retain the “e” while the fully electric 3 Series will be called the i3.
Naturally, the 2027 BMW M350 will come with either a rear-wheel drive or xDrive variant, and will be available in the United States. As a matter of fact, we expect a similar lineup as today’s: an entry-level 320, a mid model 330i and a highly efficient 330e PHEV. It’s still early to determine whether the M350 will get a power bump compared to the M340i (382 hp), but I wouldn’t rule it out. We’re also hearing from our own sources that BMW has not ruled out a diesel variant, of course for other markets than the US. But a final decision has yet to be made.
Different Design Philosophies Between CLAR and Neue Klasse 3 Series
During a recent interview with Adrian Van Hooydonk, Head of BMW Group Design, we gathered insights suggesting that there will indeed be some shared elements between the two models. However, our own sources indicate that distinguishing between the Neue Klasse 3 Series and the CLAR architecture-based variant will be a straightforward task for the end customer. Ultimately, the former model utilizes a dedicated EV platform, granting designers greater creative freedom, particularly in the interior design, whereas the latter relies on a flexible platform, which does come with its own limitations, such as the presence of a transmission tunnel in the i4.
Nonetheless, we do expect the BMW design team to bridge the gap between the two 3 Series families and make the marketing department’s job a lot easier. We should learn more when the first Neue Klasse NA0 and G50 3 Series prototypes hit the road in 2024. When it comes to the M brand, our sources say that there are no plans to offer an M3 or M4 based on the G50/G51 3 Series. The next BMW M3 will be all-electric and based on Neue Klasse (ZA0 codename).
The 2027 BMW 3 Series (G50) is rumored to enter production in late 2026, so markets like the United States will sell them as Model Year 2027. As far as the end production date, our own sources say that BMW is keeping their options open. Some upcoming CLAR models are also planned to stick around past their usual 7 year cycle. These decisions are likely to be influenced by market demands and, notably, by evolving regulations, particularly those coming into effect after 2030.
[Top image is a design sketch of the BMW Vision Neue Klasse]