Now in its seventh generation, the German compact executive saloon is based on a new platform and comes with a new, more efficient plug-in hybrid powertrain which offers greater levels of on-board tech than those that came before.
The 3 Series is BMW’s best selling model, with the saloon accounting for one in five cars sold by the manufacturer. In fact, over 15 million have found homes since its launch back in 1975.
Not only is the 3 Series new from the ground up, but it’s also up to 55kg lighter than before, depending on spec. The Audi A4 rival has made the switch to BMW’s new CLAR architecture, which also underpins the larger 5 Series saloon.
Against a tape measure, it’s 4,709mm long, 1,827mm wide and 1,442mm tall, so larger than its predecessor but still slightly shorter than an A4. On paper, the 480-litre boot is no larger than that of the outgoing car. But that previous figure included storage beneath the boot floor; in reality, there’s an extra 36 litres of visible boot space in the latest model.
The 3 Series’ popularity is one of the reasons why the saloon hasn’t undergone a dramatic redesign; it’s still recognisable as a 3 Series, but is the first model from BMW to feature the firm’s new ‘Precision and Poetry’ design language. This sounds fancy, but in reality refers to some of the sharper panels and lines on the bodywork, which help differentiate it from the larger 5 Series.