Globally the 3 series has been one of the most successful cars for the BMW in a very long time. For people who buy BMW’s, it’s never a difficult choice. Cars from the brand give the best in terms of technology and driving dynamics. So for enthusiasts who love to spend more time on the driver’s seat the choice of wheels more often than not is a beamer. But competition is fast catching up. The number one car maker in the luxury segment till a few years back is now languishing at number 3. Traditional rivals like Audi and Mercedes have overtaken the Bavarian car maker with cars that offer more luxury and premiumness. The 3 and 5 series segments are described as the bread and butter segments for BMW as majority of sales globally come from these segments. So it becomes all the more important to keep cars in this segment always updated and ready to take on the competition. This new facelift is another step in that direction. The good thing here is that apart from the looks, this car has a new engine as well.
When it’s about exteriors the idea of course is to make the car look more appealing and attractive than before. So what we have on this facelift is a redesigned bumper, a new grille that retains the kidney bean DNA and the biggest of them all, for the first time ever in a 3-series headlamps that come with LEDs and DRL’s. The revised air intakes mean that the car looks a little bit wider now when looked at from the front and the god thing is that irrespective of whatever trim you choose those LED headlights now come as standard. The M sport package also comes with meaner looking alloys and fresh designs on the rear bumper as well as tail lamps. Of course a lot of M branding on the outside and inside, like on the steering wheel and the M gear lever gives it away. Presence of carbon fiber on the dash also points towards a dash of sportiness. The pedals also look sportier as they have an aluminum finish and the presence of a sunroof makes the car stand up to the competition.
The drive is surely peppier than before the new engine is more powerful and gives around 190 PS of max power. Even the torque is impressive with 400 nm at its peak. BMW also says in this new car will give you more Fuel efficiency.
What I really like inside this new 3 are the seats. They’re comfortable and because of bolstering in the M package they really hold the driver well, especially when the car is thrown around the corners. The other highlight here is the new updated idrive system that has got a hardware and software upgrade. It comes with a fresh update of BMW connected apps as well as navigation.
Interior space was never an issue here and on the both the rows there’s no dearth of space or comfort. In fact the driver’s seat comes with 2 memory functions. Both the rows also come with some practical storage options. A welcome feature is that finally a spare a wheel finds place inside the boot but surely eats up some bit of storage space. In a nutshell the car is now tuned more to the modern times in every respect be it comfort, convenience or technology.
The drive is surely peppier than before the new engine is more powerful and gives around 190 PS of max power. Even the torque is impressive with 400 nm at its peak. BMW also says in this new car will give you more Fuel efficiency.You can easily expect a mileage of over 15 kmpl even in city conditions and that a very impressive number. There is no petrol variant yet on this facelift and that’s reflective of the trend of buyers going for Diesel cars in the luxury segment. The good thing is that even in the Diesel variant the 3 now comes with launch control. The 8-sped auto gearbox from ZF is quick to respond and there’s hardly a situation where you feel any sort of a lag. A claimed time of 7.2 seconds from 0-100 kmph is also a number you can live with on the 3-series. Another advantage is the light steering wheel which is a surprise and bodes well for the car being used in the urban chaos.
Ride and Handling
There’s a new suspension set up on this new facelift which is tuned slightly towards the stiffer side. Expect that from BMW. The good part though is in terms of handling this car is a joy to drive. Be it straight roads or curvy the car doesn’t disappoint a bit. The larger 20 inch wheels on the M sport play an important part in giving a more reassured ride. The car is as safe as you would expect a car in this segment to be. It’s got the famed side impact protection apart from airbags, ABD with brake assist and run flat tyres. The good thing is that they all come as standard across the variants. The prices for this new 3 begin at Rs.35.9 lakh and go all the way up to Rs. 44.5 lakh on the M sport package seen here.
Mechanically this BMW 3 series facelift is a very different car. The engine has been reworked and so has the suspension. If you were happy with the way the 3-series drove earlier, this is only going to get better. More so with the M sport package, a sport mode and paddle shifters, what more can you possibly ask for in a car in this segment. Without a doubt, it’s also a definite improvement when it comes to features and convenience. But this is a tough segment with cars like the upcoming A4, the Jaguar XE and Mercedes C-class, and even with all the updates, the going will not be easy for BMW.
Shams Naqvi is an anchor/producer for the News X motor show Living Cars