The BMW 7 Series has had its spot of nip ‘n tuck, so now it’s the 3 Series’ turn to go under the knife.
As with the 7 Series, the changes are subtle but welcome. The most noteworthy being the new, ‘stepped’ brake light design which, along with the redesigned bumper and rear track, tidy things up considerably at the back whilst emphasizing the vehicle’s width.
The front has received a heavily profiled bumper, a newly contoured bonnet and revised headlights. The flanks remain largely unchanged, the only noticeable addition being redesigned side mirror casings bereft of indicator lights.
The interior also benefits from a number of minor updates, the most notable being the iDrive’s larger 8,8 inch color monitor with four selection buttons, aimed at making the iDrive system more intuitive. Other features include a modified arm rest making the electric window buttons easier to access and a new optional 80-gigabyte hard disk media storage system.
The engine line up comprises a pair of 2,0-litre, four-cylinder mills in the 318i and 320i, whilst a 3,0-litre straight-six does service in the 325i, 330i and 335i. The four-pots have been carried over from the current 3 Series range, developing 105 kW and 125 kW in 318i and 320i guise, respectively. The six-cylinder powerplants develop 160 kW, 200 kW and 225 kW.
There are also a wide array of diesels; the four-cylinder pairing of the 105 kW 318d and the 130 kW 320d, along with the six-cylinder trio of the 144 kW 325d, the 144 kW 325d and the 330d, which develops 180 kW in a package that combines a claimed fuel economy figure of 5,7-litres/100 km and 0-100 km/h in 6,1 seconds. All of these engines can be mated with a six-speed gearbox in manual or automatic guises.
BMW’s DCT dual-clutch transmission, which first emerged on the M3 Convertible, is also expected to make its way across to the 3 Series range with the 2009 model year coupe. This system will undergo a couple of tweaks to better suit the characteristics of the six-cylinder engine and the M3 version’s R39 000 price tag should give us an idea of what to expect in terms of a premium over the standard transmission-equipped models.
There is also talk of BMW’s xDrive all-wheel drive system making its way across to the six-cylinder petrols and 320- and 330d models in the 3 Series range. Whilst we’re keen to see how this will enhance the car’s ability to do battle with the Quattro-equipped A4s, it does seem somewhat at odds with BMW’s rear-wheel drive heritage.
The new 3 Series will make its official debut at the Paris Motor Show in September before it makes its way onto the local market in November 2008.