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2019 BMW 3 Series Overview
A staple in the BMW lineup, the 3 Series enters 2019 as a brand new seventh-generation model. Compared to the outgoing 3 Series, its dimensions are larger, but it’s also lighter, more powerful, more efficient, and more aerodynamic. It handles better and it has more up-to-date tech. Models include a 4-cylinder 330i and 6-cylinder M340i for now, while a plug-in hybrid 330e is in the works, but may not arrive until 2020.
Under the hood, the engines are familiar, but enhanced, for 2019. The base 330i gets a 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder good for 255 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque, a jump of 7 hp and 27 lb-ft. The sportier M340i gets BMW’s 3.0-liter turbocharged inline six, which is good for 382 hp and 369 lb-ft. Each model can be had with standard rear-wheel drive (RWD) or all-wheel drive (called xDrive by BMW), but the only available transmission is an 8-speed automatic. To get a manual, buyers will have to step up to the separate M3 model.
The new 3 Series is 3.3 inches longer than the 2018 model, but thanks to more aluminum in the body and suspension, it weighs about 120 pounds less. It is also reportedly stiffer, has a lower center of gravity, and features new position-sensitive passive dampers that are standard on any 3 Series, unless it’s fitted with the optional adaptive suspension system. Weight distribution is a perfect 50:50 for excellent balance. Acoustic glass and noise insulation inside the A-pillars will reportedly make the ride quieter as well. Handling was developed on Germany’s Nurburgring race track, and in addition to the progressive dampers, the 3 Series can be had with an available M Sport suspension system that lowers the car and adds 18-inch alloy wheels with performance tires. The M Sport suspension comes with variable-ratio steering and offers an available M Sport electronically controlled limited-slip differential.
The 3 Series’ archrivals, the Mercedes-Benz C-Class and Audi A4, both have fresh interior designs that left the 2018 3 Series at the back of the pack. BMW is now at the front, with big changes on the inside that include a 5.7-inch digital gauge cluster display and an 8.8-inch touchscreen for the iDrive infotainment system. A larger 12.3-inch digital display and 10.3-inch dashboard screen with navigation are also available. The new 3 Series also gets gesture control, with which the driver can use hand gestures in midair to perform functions like adjusting the volume of the stereo or answering a phone call. The system recognizes up to seven gestures. Some of the buttons and controls have been shuffled around to be easier to find and to clean up the appearance. A 16-speaker Harman Kardon surround sound system is a tempting option; others include a head-up display (HUD), wireless device charging, a heated steering wheel, a sunroof, a power trunk lid, and an adaptive navigation system.
Among the new features for the 2019 3 Series is the Intelligent Personal Assistant, which is like a BMW version of Amazon’s Alexa, and the BMW Digital Key, which allows the driver’s smartphone to be used to operate the door locks and to start the engine by putting the phone into the car’s wireless device charging tray.
The seventh-generation 3 Series is too new to have gone through the usual run of crash tests, but collision warnings and automatic emergency braking are standard features. Other cutting-edge active safety features will be on its list of options. An available options package includes active cruise control with stop-and-go functions, steering and lane-control assist, lane-keep assist with active side-collision protection, priority warning and wrong-way warning, and cross-traffic alert.
Internally known as the G20, the latest 3 Series brings BMW back to the forefront of the compact luxury sedan game. The design it replaces dates back to 2011, so the new version arrives right on time and, in typical BMW fashion, features steady improvements and updates rather than a revolutionary change. The 3 Series is BMW’s bread-and-butter model range, so any new one will be highly anticipated. So far this one appears to be able to live up to the hype.
Since 2012, Andrew Newton has been writing about cars both old and new. Andrew has been an associate editor at Sport Car Digest as well as a contributor to sites like BoldRide and JamesEdition. He was also the Education Manager at the Larz Anderson Auto Museum in Brookline, MA before becoming the Auction Editor at Hagerty Classic Car Insurance. He currently splits his time behind the wheel between his NA Miata, 1994 Corvette, and Triumph TR6.
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