The F30 generation 3 Series was introduced in 2012 in India and continued BMW’s tradition of outstanding performance and great dynamics. But with an impressive new Mercedes-Benz C-Class to fight off, an all-new Audi A4 arriving later this year and a fresh and desirable newcomer on the scene which goes by the name of Jaguar XE, the 3 Series needs to stay fresh in order to overcome its rivals.
BMW has taken the cue and has given the 3 Series a mild facelift and updated interiors. The 3 Series just went under the knife and, along with subtle changes to the exteriors, the 320d now is also available in an M Sport package. The changes however, aren’t just skin deep, and BMW has also plonked a brand new engine under the hood. For now the 3 Series is just available in the diesel guise. So are the changes comprehensive enough to make it significantly better than its predecessor? Read our full-blown Road Test to find answers.
The exteriors of BMW 3 Series are one of the best things to look forward. Not just the designing elements, but chrome finishing and character lines all over give the car a magnificent look. Its side profile gets highlighted owing to the set of attractive multi-spoke alloy wheels. At the rear end, the car got chrome painted exhaust pipe and an aggressive boot lid, which features the auto maker’s moniker embedded neatly at the centre. At the front fascia, the kidney bean-shaped radiator grille features eleven slats painted in chrome. Another key highlight of the car is its headlight cluster, which now has bi-xenon headlights and LED DRLs.
There’s a familiar feel to the insides of the car, especially the centre console, though there are a lot of changes. The car gets paddle shift levers, a welcome addition for the sportier kinds like me, along with different materials and finishes for the M Sport trim. The low set cabin adds to the sporty ambience inside, though it is surprisingly spacious while the seats, finished in tan brown leather are very comfortable. There’s a lot of unlacquered carbon fibre like panels on the centre console and doors which give the insides a raw, sportscar like feel, along with the matte finish of the Alcantara-like material on the dashboard.
ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION ;
The 2016 BMW 3-Series comes with a 2.0-litre diesel engine and the oil-burner is the new B47 unit that also made its way to the X3 recently. It belts out 187 HP of power and 400 Nm of torque which is slightly more than the older unit’s output. The engine is an absolute blast to drive and it starts pulling with great urgency right from low RPMs. The mid-range feels very strong while the engine is a gem even at higher RPMs. Acceleration is just marginally quicker than the older unit and we clocked a 0-100 km/hr time of 7.55 seconds.
The 320d’s engine is a good performer and the 8-speed gearbox is also smooth The power delivery feels very linear and due to this the engine feels very peppy. The 4-cylinder unit is fun right up to the redline of 4500 RPM for automatic and slightly more in manual mode. It also cruises happily at 100 km/hr in 8th gear at a touch below 1500 RPM. The engine is mated to the same 8-speed ZF gearbox but the ratios now seem to be better tuned than the pre-LCI model. The gear shifts are quick and the transmission is smart enough to understand the driver’s requirements
The new engine feels much more refined than the older model. It comes with an assortment of driving modes like Eco Pro, Comfort, Sport and Sport+. Comfort is best chosen when you plan to cruise while Eco Pro results in the car losing some of its steam for a marginally better fuel efficiency figure. The Sport mode makes sure the car stays right in the punchiest band of revs and it responds quickly to throttle dabs. In Sport+ mode, the car switches off the DTC so you better not try this mode on public roads. Talking about fuel efficiency, the 320d will keep your wallet happy with figures hovering around 12-13 km/l under normal driving conditions.
RIDE AND HANDLING ;
What made BMW into a BMW has been the outright performance and agile handling. The BMWs did have a harsh ride back in the older days. However, with time the ride quality kept on improving. The new 3 Series 2016 offers good quality of ride. It is pliant as the suspension does soak up most of the road shocks. The handling too of the new 3 is good. We liked the manner in which it behaves around bends. This is what makes the 3 Series a special vehicle in its segme The 3 Series gets a new electronic power steering. This makes it light and easy to drive in the city. However, we sorely miss out on the heavy steering wheel in the hydraulic version. This is what we loved the most about BMWs. With the current one, you will need some getting used too.
SAFETY FEATURES ;
The M Sport Package we drove focuses on sportiness above everything else, and does a really good job of it. The M gear lever reminded me of the M3, and the driver’s seat is a fantastic place to be in if you like driving and enjoy motorsport. That’s also because unique to this trim are a head-up display, sports front seats that grip you perfectly, 3-spoke steering wheel from the M cars and sportier, aluminium pedals. The navigation system does its job well, and I had barely any trouble punching in destinations in the NCR region where we drove the car. A sunroof and high resolution 8.7 inch screen are standard on the Sport, Luxury and M Sport trims whereas the Prestige makes do with a smaller 6.5 inch screen.
Introduction of the BMW 3 Series 320i will surely enhance the appeal of the model with the new petrol variant. The customers who want to buy a luxury car at a lower price range, will surely get attracted to this car.