Of course, the lifted 3 Series is at the forefront of its class in terms of driving dynamics. Especially since a fine in-line six-cylinder petrol engine continues to work in the M340i xDrive. What else is new? The driving report now clarifies that.
Wippenhausen. Never heard? You don't even have the faintest idea where that could be? No wonder: After all, it is the deepest Bavarian province. And there is not much more to see in this tranquil little town north of Munich than a few happy cows. Maybe that's why we stop here for a spontaneous photo stop. However, we are being watched. By whom? A very obviously car-crazy village youth. In any case, the kids quickly pull out the improvised autograph cards when they spot the photographer and the red auto motor und sport T-shirt. The real star is the freshly lifted BMW 3 Series.
By the way, he's also a millionaire - has sold more than 16 million copies since 1975. The current generation is also doing well: the Bavarians have already sold 1.1 million units worldwide. Okay, half of them with long wheelbases in China alone. While in Germany the Touring still holds up the station wagon flag with a share of 70 to 30. This is one of the reasons why the facelift is subtle: with streamlined lines, narrower LED headlights and gray matt paint, the changes remain manageable, while the M340i still breathes properly through the blackened kidneys and the enlarged radiator mouth.
BMW M340i with 374 hp and 500 Nm
A few kilometers earlier, traffic sign no. 105-10 - you know, the triangular one with a red border and central S-curve arrow - had pointed out this section of the route, which ambitiously crosses the field , forest and meadows winds. Perfect for the 3 Series, because nothing has changed in terms of its sporty character. And why, after all, the engineers drove him out of the excessively hard premiere chassis tuning even before the facelift. That doesn't mean, however, that you now voluntarily drive over every manhole cover or frost heave. Because especially as a BMW M340i with the optional adaptive M chassis, the sedan is still not a fabric softener.
And so she relents directly - in sport mode almost a bit too pointed. A little more feedback would be desirable. Sure, that's whining at a high level. Despite all-wheel drive, it never tugs and pulls in the thickly lined steering wheel rim, even when nimble cornering. On the contrary, if you don't know that all four wheels are driven here, you'll only feel it on a wet track or with a very sensitive bottom gauge.
The turbo petrol engine always distributes its potential from 374 hp and 500 Nm early on rear-heavy, likes to turn its rear end on the said route or lets it hang out slightly when the accelerator pedal is used at the exit of the curve.However, the fact that they now at BMW think they have to drown out the in-line six in the interior with Hans Zimmer's electro sounds borders on blasphemy - not only in an area where a crucifix is emblazoned on every corner. It's a good thing that the artificial soundscape can be easily switched off.
No more manual transmissions
Speaking of shifting gears: You can no longer do this manually in any 3 Series. With the facelift, all engine variants – which otherwise remain unchanged – get the ZF eight-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters buckled. With no one working together faster, better or more perfectly than with the 3.0-liter six-cylinder petrol engine.
So far, the interaction between humans and infotainment machines has worked almost perfectly. But inside the 3 Series is now scratching the curve. Instead of the stand-alone center screen, the curved display familiar from the iX curves towards the driver. The redesigned displays for the pilot bring more important driving information closer to the center. Due to the abstract boomerang-shaped representation, these remain only moderately readable. You prefer to look at the large head-up display, which changes with the driving modes, but at night you miss the previously available laser headlights and the augmented reality display on the navigation screen known from the iX.
But the latter is so expansive that only five of the once numerous direct selection buttons and one volume control remain. In addition, BMW also had to sacrifice the cherished central button for (de)activating all assistance systems to the dictates of the Euro NCAP requirements - otherwise there would probably not be five stars in the crash test.
Yes, it still twists and turns
With all that wasteful space on the display, you just have to wonder why you have to fiddle with fine-tuning via the small-scale app-like submenu. Alternatively, you can also speak to the floating dots in the head-up display, which signal the readiness of the language assistant after a short speech. The system with the friendly voice should now be able to do even more, understand dialects better and actually lead you to the last menu level. For example, the climate setting works without distraction-intensive touching.
The good news for traditionalists: The rotary pushbutton and the direct selection buttons grouped around it have been retained. He's now snuggled up next to a stubby automatic rocker arm, the kind that's all the rage right now. This creates more space in the middle. The space available for the occupants and the dimensions, on the other hand, remain almost unchanged.
Prices now start at 43,900 euros
With the facelift, customers now get more 3 for their money. This is mainly due to the fact that BMW sorted out equipment lines and expanded the standard equipment to include a navigation system, three-zone automatic climate control, 17-inch and parking sensors all around.However, this also means that the 3 Series as the 318i only starts at 43,900 euros - the M340i xDrive driven here, including extras, costs almost twice as much. So you will probably see him less often in the future, especially in Wippenhausen.
In terms of drive and chassis technology, everything stays the (good) old way. Of course, the new infotainment can do even more, but it is more complicated to use. Although the series volume is increasing, the 3 Series is even more expensive.