On the eve of the sixth-generation BMW 3 Series’s on-line unveiling, it’s difficult to believe that the 3 Series, the staple of BMW’s product line-up, has been with us for almost 36 years. In that time it has been through five evolutions; from the boxy and basic E21 and E30 models through to the luxurious E90 and its drop-top and coupé variants – each one of them garnering plaudits for their ability to combine the luxury expected of BMW with a good dose of dynamic involvement.
BMW will soon lift the wraps off its sixth-generation 3 Series ahead of the car’s official debut at next year’s Detroit Motor Show. With numerous stylistic nods to the 5 Series, what look like improved levels of perceived quality and a revised engine line-up, the new 3 Series will, no doubt, cause a considerable stir when it breaks cover.
To say that the upcoming F30 3 Series is a vital model in BMW’s future development is an understatement – this is, after all, the range that forms the backbone of the company’s global sales and, in our market, is widely credited with defining the compact executive saloon segment that it contests so hotly with the likes of Mercedes-Benz and Audi. Many fans of the marque have been of the opinion that the last real leap in packaging that the 3 Series saw was with the transition from the basic, but fun E30 to the more substantial (but some say less visceral) E36. The E90, despite its success and being born during the reign of Chris Bangle and his controversial designs, was seen as being somewhat too conventional and dour.
As such, the new car – being what appears to be a micronisation of the highly-successful new 5 Series in terms of both design and technology – has a great deal of expectation heaped upon its shoulders.