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By Mark Jones

Road Test Editor

Latest BMW 3-Series is here

'If it ain't broke, don't fix it" applies to the midlife refresh BMW's iconic 3 Series Sedan has just undergone.

The BMW 3 Series is not only the founder of the modern sports sedan segment, it is also the permanent benchmark in the segment, and the 3 Series has been around for 40 years now. Over what is now six model generations, the BMW 3 Series has set the standard for dynamic excellence, efficiency and design, forging an emotionally rich connection between a sporting driving experience and unbeatable everyday practicality – so why get crazy with the changes?

Around one in every four BMWs sold is a 3 Series Sedan, which makes this model series the most successful in the BMW brand’s line-up. And now with slightly sharper design, even more advanced technology and cutting-edge new engines will ensure the new BMW 3 Series remains the attractive premium proposition it has always been.

I am sure to the untrained non BMW eye, you will be hard pressed to notice the exterior changes to the new 3 Series, I know I was. So let me tell you what has changed. At the front end, new aprons with revised air intakes accentuate the feeling of width, while the sensor for the optional Active Cruise Control (ACC) is harmoniously integrated into the central air intake.

The sculptural rear apron design, including a line-specific trim element and standard LED rear lights, likewise emphasise the car’s width and thus its sporting appearance. An innovative lighting concept, featuring newly designed headlights and striking LED daytime driving lights, underlines the car’s sporty and powerful visual appeal. Full LED headlights can now be specified as an option.

The new BMW 3 series has a sharper look and better technology. Picture: Supplied

The new BMW 3 series has a sharper look and better technology. Picture: Supplied

The same pretty much applies to the interior, which makes an even classier impression with new materials and additional chrome highlights for the controls, air vents and central control panel. The newly crafted centre console, with a sliding cover for the cup holders, enables better use of the storage surfaces forward of the gearshift lever and takes the ergonomics of the 3 Series to an even higher level.

As per usual with a premium offering, a wide range of personalisation options as far as upholstery and interior trim elements are concerned, as well as new wheels, exterior colours and equipment options, round off the specification choices for the new 3 Series.

But being a BMW has a whole lot to do with the dynamics and powerplants on offer, and the new 3 Series model range is available with an extensive spread of engines from launch. Four petrol units and two diesels are available, developing from 100kW to 240kW and they can be linked up with a six-speed manual gearbox and an eight-speed Steptronic transmission (standard on the BMW 330d and BMW 340i).

All the three-, four- and six-cylinder petrol engines for the 3 Series model range and the four-cylinder diesel unit in the 320d are now sourced from the newly developed modular BMW EfficientDynamics engine family. Features including revised turbochargers help give the new four-cylinder 140kW/400Nm 320d diesel engine an even sharper response, while the three-cylinder 110kW/220Nm 1.5 litre petrol engine is a new addition to both the 3 Series model range and the segment as a whole. Making its 3 Series debut is the 135kW/290Nm 2.0 litre four-cylinder petrol engine in the 320i.

Celebrating their world premiere, meanwhile, are the 185kW/350Nm 2.0 litre four-cylinder unit in the BMW 330i, as well as the 240kW/450Nm 3.0 litre six-cylinder petrol unit in the BMW 340i. Despite their superior power, further improvements have also been made to the efficiency of the engines. Fuel consumption and CO2 emissions are down by as much as 11%, it is claimed.

The new BMW 3 series has a sharper look and better technology. Picture: Supplied

The new BMW 3 series has a sharper look and better technology. Picture: Supplied

The ride, of course, is as dynamic and as reassuring as always, thanks to further developed dampers, stiffer suspension and more precise steering. BMW plays a leading role in the link-up of driver, vehicle and outside world. Its BMW ConnectedDrive range of products and services offer a unique selection of web-based services and innovative driver assistance systems designed to enhance comfort and improve safety.

The full-colour BMW Head-Up Display enables all relevant information to be displayed directly in the driver’s field of vision, leaving you to concentrate fully on the road ahead. The Navigation System Professional impresses in city centres, in particular, with quicker start-up, significantly faster route calculation and even more realistic 3D graphics.

The navigation maps are automatically updated free of charge for a period of three years. This is done via the nearest BMW dealership. The Park Assist option now enables automatic parallel parking as well, while Auto PDC also automatically activates the front parking sensors when manoeuvring wraps up a package that is right at the top of its game.

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