The seventh generation of the BMW 3 Series (G20) made its global debut back in October 2018 and was given its first facelift (or Life Cycle Impulse as BMW calls it) this year in May. In this post, we’re taking a much closer look at all the changes made to the compact executive sedan, which will continue to do battle against the likes of the Mercedes-Benz C-Class and Audi A4.
Starting at the front, the facelifted 3 Series is immediately recognisable thanks to its new headlamps. Compared to the original G20, the clusters now have simpler, more angular shape instead of the previous “claw-like” design with a notched bottom section.
The daytime running lights (DRLs) are also different as a result, adopting a more prominent inverted L-shaped design instead of two U-shaped elements at the base of each headlamp. The revised DRLs point towards the kidney grille, which hasn’t grown larger as we’ve seen on other BMW models, although it is now octagonal in shape.
As for the front bumper, the design is dependent on the chosen styling package. The base option on the pre-facelift model features T-shaped elements that integrate the LED fog lamps and air curtains, while the lower intake expands outwards towards them.
For the facelift, the lower intake gets angular side inserts and an upswept design that blends in neatly with more aggressive crease lines. The T shapes (and fog lamps) are also gone, replaced with trapezoidal elements that continue to integrate the air curtains. Elsewhere, the grille insert has been tweaked so each vertical louvre now has double bars instead.
Down the sides, there’s still a distinctive character line that runs through the door handles to the tip of the taillights, which remain familiar with their L-shaped light signature. Further down, you’ll still find a creased section originating from the front wheels near the bottom portion of the car.
The rear bumper in basic specification is new and is styled to match what’s going on at the front. Strong lines highlight the new shape, while the reflectors no longer sit within T-shaped elements that mirror the pre-facelift car’s front end.
The popular M Sport package gets an even more aggressive look, with the most obvious design cue being the enlarged, hexagonal-shaped lower intake that rises all the way up to just below the grille – the number plate now sits within the intake as a result.
The pre-facelift 3 Series equipped with the M Sport package had its fog lamps and air curtains sat in near-squarish sections at the corners of the bumper, but this has been simplified so it’s now just the vertical air curtains and black trim elements forming a “J,” also without fog lamps. On that mention, full-LED headlamps are standard for the new 3 Series, with the step up being an adaptive LED system that is identified by blue accents within the clusters.
Equally as attention-grabbing is the rear, as M Sport-equipped cars will come with a bumper that has a large bottom section in black that extends up the sides. This area is also where you’ll find a diffuser element set between the two exhaust finishers that measure 90 mm or 100 mm in diameter depending on the engine. Another noticeable change is the reflectors, which are aligned vertically on the sides rather thank flanking the base of the boot lid.
The pre-facelift model’s M Sport package appears tamer by comparison, as there’s less black surfacing, no diffuser element and the sides of the bumper are mainly in body colour and accommodate faux air outlets.
The M Sport look is also used for the M Performance version of the latest 3 Series, the M340i xDrive. However, the highest available variant before you reach M3 territory does get specific touches to make it stand out further. These include the pinned grille insert at the front and trapezoidal-shaped exhaust finishers at the rear.
Unlike the pre-facelift M340i xDrive, the new car also gets M3-style side mirrors. BMW will also offer a range of M Performance Parts, and you can see what a kitted-out example looks like in a separate post we’ve prepared previously.
While the exterior changes are more evolutionary rather than revolutionary, it’s a different story inside the 3 Series facelift. The star of the show is the BMW Curved Display, which comes as standard and is made up of a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster set beside a 14.9-inch central touchscreen. This setup is already used in other cars like the i4 and replaces the previous BMW Live Cockpit Professional system that has a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster and a 10.25-inch touchscreen in the centre.
The newer system is powered by BMW Operating System 8 that succeeds OS 7, so users will enjoy a new user interface with nicer graphics, plenty of connected services, media inputs, smartphone connectivity, 5G support and most importantly, the BMW Intelligent Personal Assistant.
BMW’s take on Siri allows users to issue commands to adjust things like the climate control and other vehicle settings up to a certain degree. This allows the cabin to be made more minimalistic, with fewer physical controls compared to the pre-facelift G20.
For instance, the controls for the standard three-zone climate system are now nestled within the touchscreen, so the row of buttons that were previously beneath the centre air vents are now omitted. The small display between said air vents is also deleted since the status is now constantly display at the bottom of the infotainment screen.
Other buttons that were removed include the ones to access preset favourites, although you’ll still have a rotary volume dial and buttons to skip or go back through your song catalogue. These are joined by controls for the front and rear demisters as well as the hazard lights.
The centre console retains the same matte finish as before, although BMW has gotten rid of the gear lever in favour of a toggle switch. You’ll still get to tinker with the familiar iDrive controller and buttons to access drive modes, driving assistance features and other functions as before. Beyond these changes, the rest of the interior is pretty much identical to the pre-facelift G20, and that includes the design of the steering wheel, regardless of styling package.
In terms of engines, the base petrol option is the 318i that gets a 2.0 litre turbocharged four-cylinder rated at 156 PS (154 hp) from 4,500-6,500 rpm and 250 Nm of torque from 1,300-4,300 rpm. This is followed by the 320i that uses the same B48, albeit delivering 184 PS (181 hp) from 5,000-6,500 rpm and 300 Nm from 1,350-4,000 rpm.
An even more powerful version of the B48 is used in the 330i with 245 PS (241 hp) from 4,500-6,500 rpm and 400 Nm from 1,600-4,000 rpm. With an additional two cylinders, the M340i xDrive uses the B58 3.0 litre straight-six that serves up 374 PS (369 hp) from 5,500-6,500 rpm and 500 Nm from 1,900-5,000 rpm.
The M340i xDrive also comes with a 48-volt mild hybrid system that includes a starter-generator capable of providing a boost of 11 PS (11 hp or 8 kW) and helping out with brake energy regeneration and supplying the vehicle’s 12-volt electrical system – this was introduced as part of BMW’s model revision measures as of March last year. In Malaysia, the current pre-facelift M340i xDrive packs 387 PS (382 hp) from 5,800-6,500 rpm.
There are also several plug-in hybrid powertrains available, including the 320e that has an electric motor rated at 109 PS (107 hp) and 265 Nm, which is integrated into the standard-across-the-range eight-speed Steptronic automatic transmission.
This augments a turbo-four with 163 PS (161 hp) from 5,000-6,000 rpm and 300 Nm from 1,350-3,700 rpm for a total system output of 204 PS (201 hp) and 350 Nm. There’s also the 330e that retains the same electric motor but pairs it with the 320i’s engine for a drive system output of 292 PS (288 hp) and 420 Nm.
Diesel options include the 318d, 320d, 330d and M340d xDrive, although diesel-powered BMWs aren’t something we get these days. All-wheel drive is available for selected powertrains, be it diesel, petrol or plug-in hybrid.
So, after this going through this deep dive into the changes made to the 3 Series facelift, what do you think? Does the updated car look better than its predecessor? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
Source: Paul Tan’s Automotive News Read More