Facelifted BMW 3 Series driven in Germany

By LEE PANG SENG | 29 October 2015


The latest BMW 3 Series reflects the well-grounded belief that when there is nothing wrong with it, don’t make any major visual changes, only subtle ones beneath the skin to enhance its sporty and dynamic persona and strengthen its foundation further.

In that respect, BMW appears to have certainly taken a page out of the general practice adopted by the Japanese carmakers in the late 70s and early 80s for its new 3 Series, in which a simple facelift would do.

What’s more important is that the new 3 Series carries the world premiere of the latest four-cylinder and six-cylinder petrol engines, which like the four-cylinder diesel units are sourced from the newly developed modular BMW EfficientDynamics engine family and feature BMW TwinPower Turbo technology.


READ ALSO: 5 highlights of new BMW 3 Series

Another important development is that the new 3 Series comes with a Plug-in Hybrid option and is the second BMW model after the X5 to be provided with such a variant; it’s called the 330e.

It is featured with a 2.0-litre 184hp (135kW) petrol engine and 80kW electric motor for a combined output of 252hp (185kW).

In performance, it accelerates to 100kph in 6.2 seconds, has a 225kph top speed and fuel consumption of 2.0L/100km or 50km per litre.

A third area of improvement lies in the suspension: the latest 3 Series comes with a stiffer suspension, more rigid body shell mounting and a more finely honed steering set-up for the Electric Power Steering.

And of course, the interior is said to portray an even classier impression with the use of new materials and chrome highlights for the controls, air vents and central control panel.


The fresh details in the exterior are provided in the new aprons in front with revised air intakes to accentuate the feeling of width while the sensor for the optional Active Cruise Control is ‘harmoniously integrated’ into the central air intake.

The headlamps and LED (light emitting diode) daytime running lights were also given updates in their design to underline the car’s sporty and powerful visual appeal.

For the rear perspective, the novel apron design and now standard LED lights are said to complement the front by emphasising the car’s width and its sporting appearance.

There are 11 engine options - three petrol and seven diesel variants for the new 3 Series; the former includes the entry-level 1.5-litre three-cylinder in the 318i, the new 2.0-litre four-cylinder engines in the 320i and 330i, and the new 3.0-litre in-line six for the 340i.


The diesel variants start with the 2.0-litre four-cylinder versions with different power chips in the 316d, 318d, 320d and 325d, and the 3.0-litre in-line six in the 330d and 335d.

Our drive from the BMW press centre in Garching, Munich to the hamlet of Achenkirch in Austria was in the range-topping 340i, which is a world debut for this variant that replaces the 335i.

BMW says the 340i is the first model in the entire BMW line-up to be powered by the all-new six-cylinder in-line engine from the new modular EfficientDynamics engine family.

The lightweight and rigid all-aluminium engine develops 326hp between 5,500 and 6,500rpm, a 20hp improvement over the previous model, and 450Nm of torque that is available from a very low 1,380rpm.

Mated to the engine is the eight-speed Steptronic automatic transmission that is also new; BMW says it has improved efficiency, wider gear spread and reduced torque converter slip during gear shifts to reduce CO2 (carbon dioxide) emissions by 3%.


The drive from Munich to Austria was supposed to cover more than 150km of highway and secondary routes, but for some reason, the 340i’s new ‘state-of-the-art’ navigation system led us through a shorter route.

Instead of the scenic and winding hilly routes, we were guided through the lowland townships that were teeming with summer holiday traffic.

We did get to feel a little of the new 3.0-litre in-line six power potential on our all-too-short autobahn drive and for the most part was crawling along with the holiday traffic in a slight drizzle.

And for those few instances where we could push just a little through a few bends here and there, and driving over the occasional potholes and road dips, the latest 340i seemed to hold up well to expectations.

The popular E30 3 Series.

Needless to say, our hosts were a little surprised to see us arriving at the designated stop so early.

The bright note was that we got to choose a longer drive in one of the earlier 3 Series models.

We chose the E30 primarily because this was the first BMW model to be locally assembled in Malaysia, at the Pekan facility to be exact, in the early 1980s.

The 3 Series model made available for a comparison drive experience was a 320iS two-door car, which was tailored for the Italian market with its engine displacement tweaked to be below 2,000cc (to 1990cc) for tax reasons.

This short stroke four-cylinder BMW M Power engine model was the Italian M3 of the time; it delivered 192hp and 210Nm of torque, which was considered very powerful back in the day.

It must be remembered that the 3 Series models of the bygone era came without any dynamic assistance systems such as Dynamic Stability Control (DSC), Dynamic Traction Control (DTC), Cornering Brake Control (CBC) that are standard fitment in modern Bimmers; and there were certainly no airbags!

We drove it through 50km of winding secondary roads with surfaces in varying degrees of wetness and some dry patches.

It was a world of difference as we heard a lot more of the engine induction and exhaust throb when we revved it on the straight stretches.

The E30 didn’t seem to mind being pushed through a few tight bends that were relatively dry with the tyres squealing their protest, and it was more of an engaging drive as we were in control of the car without any electronic dynamic assistance.

The leather seats felt pretty good and the less refined interior gave this E30 a raw feel that was rugged but comfortable in its way.

If there is a constant character of the model that has evolved into the current range, it has to be its sporty and dynamic qualities.

This is the soul of the 3 Series which is widely accepted the world over and had helped the 3 Series account for 25% of all BMWs sold since its launch.