The wait for the all-new seventh-gen BMW 3 Series is over. Well, almost. In less than a year’s time, you’ll have the first look at the production model. But if you can’t wait that long, here’s a detailed preview of the forthcoming 3 Series.
The curiosity that has built around the all-new BMW 3 Series is a thing of great interest. If you think about that, it’s kind of inevitable – the 3 Series is BMW’s most successful car since time immemorial, so, of course, there are huge expectations among the brand’s connoisseurs. In 2018, we’ll get all the answers regarding the new 3. And we’re pretty sure that BMW won’t pull any surprises here – the next-generation of the BMW 3 Series will be the automaker’s most important product for the next couple of years.
But it’s not going to be smooth sailing for the new 3 Series. It currently faces stiff competition from the usual rivals – Mercedes C-Class and Audi A4 – while the Jaguar XE and the newly launched Alfa Romeo Giulia are going to make its life more difficult. In fact, if you think about it, the current gen 3 Series has been feeling the heat for quite a while now. And that’s perhaps why it’s nearing the end of its lifecycle in just over 5 years, which is the shortest in the brand’s history. We could be wrong here, though, because the current model may hit the usual seven-year mark before its successor goes on sale in all of its global markets. As for the line-up, the new-gen model will spawn the 3 Series sedan, followed by 3 Series Touring in Europe, 3 Series GT and 4 Gran Coupé. Hardcore M-derivatives will follow later.
More space, less weight
So, what’s it going to look like? Well, let’s just say that there isn’t any concrete information on that at the moment. But, don’t lose hope just yet. Based on the heavily camouflaged 3 Series that’s been spotted by our spies during test runs, we can at least give you a clear idea of its final look. The 3 will inherit many features from the 5 Series, such as technology, driver assistance systems (see the box below) and, most importantly, design. BMW’s ex-designer, Karim Habib, who joined Infiniti last summer, was the one who designed the new 3 Series. From his past work, you can expect to see a more prominent double kidney radiator grille that’s linked to the headlights. It’ll have Hallmark proportions, such as a wide hood and a short tail. The total width could increase by 50 or 60mm, as the rear doors appear to be longer – which means that the wheelbase will be extended to free up more space inside the cabin. BMW’s CLAR modular platform – that underpins the new 3 – could further improve the cabin space.
As far as traction is concerned, it will be both rear and all-wheel drive, featuring a longitudinal engine layout. Thanks to the extensive use of highly resistant steel and aluminium parts, the new 3 will have a weight reduction of a few dozen kilogrammes for sure. And, as has always been the case with the 3 Series, the aim will be to offer a high quality driving experience. So, expect to see a trick suspension setup with an integral active steering and more features that will optimize its dynamic abilities.
An electrified M3
Initially, the engine options will be a complete evolution of the current powertrains. At the entry level, the new 3 will have a 1.5-litre turbo-petrol three-cylinder motor, followed by bigger four- and six-cylinder petrol and diesel engines. From what we hear, the engines are expected to produce more or less the same power and torque figures, so as to limit both emissions and fuel consumption. There will, of course, be an additional environmentally friendly version in the form of the updated 330e plug-in hybrid. In fact, we might well see a hybrid motor make it to the next-gen M3. BMW’s CEO, Harald Krueger, in fact, was clear in mentioning this, “Even the M Range is going to be electrified,” he said. In addition to this, we have a strong feeling that the new M3 will ditch the jerky DCT gearbox in favour of ZF’s silky smooth eight-speed automatic transmission. A manual transmission may be offered with the entry level models.
Top-priority: Driving Pleasure
NOT JUST FOR PASSENGERS
BMW Vision Next 100 (above), launched in 2016, is a sport concept that previews independent mobility without excluding the possibility of being driven by an individual. In the bigger picture is the reconstruction of the tail-section of the future 3 Series, which will likely be wider and sleeker than the current car.
There are only a few cars that focus on driving pleasure as much as the 3 Series does – and this trait will remain in future too. As per BMW, the ever growing number of assistance systems won’t interfere with the driver, but they will be available to improve safety. So, in all probability, the new 3 Series will have all the optional driver assist systems that are currently available in the 5 Series – like automatic speed control in traffic and the ability to follow the course of the road without using the steering-wheel. Automatic lane change assist – on the driver’s input – will also be there. The 3 Series will continue without any autonomous technology. It’s not that it won’t be introduced on this model, but expect the 3 Series to get it only after 2021. Maybe we’ll see something like the Vision Next 100 – a concept model that meets Level 4 in autonomous technology. To give you an idea on how it’ll work, the car will be able to operate in fully autonomous mode in particular operating environments, but the driver will always have the option to restore steering wheel control.
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