In Depth

BMW 3 Series 2019 reviews: is it still a class leader?

German car giant’s ‘most important car of the decade’ arrives early next year

BMW’s all-new 3 Series stole headlines when it made its public debut at the Paris Motor Show in October.

The company’s smallest saloon is arguably its “most important car of the decade”, as it introduces a new production platform that paves the way for electrified powertrains for future models, says Auto Express

There are also rumours that an M3 Touring may be on the cards to take on the mighty Audi RS4. 

Here’s everything you need to know about the new 3 Series, including the critics’ first impressions, from driving one of BMW’s prototype cars:

Reviews

BMW AG. For Editorial Use only. For any other purpose contact Fabian Kirchbauer

The new BMW 3 Series has big boots to fill, given that the previous model often found its way into the UK’s top ten best-selling cars of the month, says The Daily Telegraph.  

Thankfully the latest version of the four-door saloon feels “grippy, manoeuvrable through turns and mostly good fun”, even in its most basic entry-level form, the newspaper says.

Autocar agrees, praising the car’s enjoyable and “really engaging” handling. “This car just keeps getting better where it’s really expected to deliver: on the road.”

But both the motoring magazine and the Telegraph found the ride in the new B3 Series wasn’t quite as smooth as some of the car’s rivals. Autocar says the car has “a slight but recurrent sense of over-excitement over smaller lumps and bumps”.

While Auto Express thinks the car’s ride quality could be better, the new 3 Series deals with potholes and rough surfaces with ease. 

Larger 18in wheels on sports models do have a negative impact on ride comfort, the magazine says, but BMW’s rivals “aren’t immune to this trait, either”.

“No one was expecting BMW to screw it up and as you’ll have gathered that hasn’t happened”, says Top Gear. This is thanks to the car’s engine line-up which feels more refined and its “tighter than ever” handling.

The cabin is quiet with plenty of hi-tech features included in the standard model, the website says. The only factor holding it back from receiving a perfect score is the car’s “firm ride”.

Price and release

The Daily Express says the new 3 Series will cost £33,610 when it arrives in showrooms next March.

Engines and performance 

BMW AG. For Editorial Use only. For any other purpose contact Fabian Kirchbauer

Those opting for an entry-level 3 Series can expect a 1.5-litre three-cylinder engine badged 318i, above which sits a turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine that can be found in both 320i and faster 330i models, says Auto Express. 

Diesel models all get the same 2.0-litre four-cylinder motor with outputs ranging from 150bhp to 230bhp.

But the most significant addition to the range are plug-in hybrids: a 325e with a combined power output of 258bhp (110bhp electric power and 148bhp from a petrol motor), as well as a potential 330e that may arrive later in the car’s lifecycle, the magazine says. 

BMW is also rumoured to be working on a fully-electric model to rival the Tesla Model 3, according to Motor1. It’s expected to have a battery range of 300 miles to compete with the range-topping Model 3’s 310-mile battery. 

Will there be a Touring version?

It looks like it. BMW often offers estate versions shortly after launching a new saloon, and the same is expected for the 2019 3 Series. 

US-based car blog MotorAuthority has spotted a camouflaged Touring version of the new 3 Series being put through its paces at the Nurburgring circuit in Germany. The test vehicle looks similar to the saloon model, but the roofline on the Touring extends all the way to the back of the car. 

The twin-outlet exhaust system and aggressive bodywork suggests that BMW’s test car is the M Performance version, the blog adds.

What about an M3 estate?

Perhaps. BMW has never officially built an M3 Touring, the name it lends to its estate models, but it seems that may change in the new year. 

Company insiders told Autocar that the German carmaker is considering a high-performance Touring model to rival the Mercedes-AMG C63 Estate and Audi RS4 Avant. 

Given that the standard 3 Series Touring is entering the final stages of development before appearing at the Geneva Motor Show in March, the cost of building an M3 version on the estate platform would be “minimal”, the magazine says. 

While the report would indicate a radical move on BMW’s behalf, the company is no stranger to the idea of an M3 Touring.

In 2000, the firm unveiled an M3 Touring concept based on the new E46 3 Series platform, Motor1 reports. The concept proved popular among die-hard fans, but BMW decided against putting the car into production. 

Since then a number of enthusiasts and third-party engineering firms have created their own M3 Tourings. This is done by installing the engine and trim from an M3 on to a regular 3 Series Touring.

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