The first generation BMW 3 series was launched in 1975 and in mid-November last year I was invited over to Portugal for the international media launch for the new 3 Series… the seventh generation! The world premiere was in October 2018 at the Mondial de l’Automobile in Paris with the market launch planned for March 2019.
Upon arrival at Faro airport, I was greeted by two smiling attractive ladies holding a bold BMW sign. I was then chauffeured in a 5 series from Faro to the hotel where I would be staying for the next couple of nights – Vila Vita Parc Resort & Spa. The event took place a short drive from Faro airport – the southern coast of Portugal. The hotel and scenery was stunning and the hotel seemed almost colonised by BMW!
Brand flags and signs in every direction. They had flown in some of their top engineers, designers and project managers for this event and for many of them this car has taken up a big part of their life for the last several years.
The new 3 series scores well in the looks and aesthetics department. Clear lines and taut surfaces showcase the car’s modern aesthetic, sportiness and emotion-packed presence. The exterior is striking. Highlights include slim L-shaped three-dimensional rear lights, a new interpretation of the LED twin headlights, T-shaped air intakes and also the ‘Welcome Light Carpet’ – the cool feature you notice at night when you open the car door.
A short presentation and a cup of coffee later I was handed a set of keys (330i) and it was go. It didn’t take long to feel that the BMW engineers had put great effort on the driving dynamics. They’re noticeably sharper in comparison to the 6th generation due to extensively upgraded chassis technology and new damper technology, stiffer body structure, minimised weight and 50:50 weight distribution. After 10 minutes of narrow roads making my way out of the local town to the highway, I slipped into ‘Sport plus’ mode. Seriously – woah. It was like a whole different car. The feel, the sound, the handling and most importantly the acceleration took me totally by surprise… ‘Sport plus’ mode turned the car into a rocket.
Meanwhile, in the interior and comfort department, there is no compromise.
Newly designed seats for the driver and front passenger that offer more shoulder and elbow room with optimised seating comfort in the rear.
Thoroughly revised control and display system – standard specification includes instrument cluster with screen size increased from 2.7 to 5.7 inches and Control Display with a screen diagonal up from 6.5 to 8.8 inches.
A couple of cool features on the car that came in handy was the new BMW Intelligent Personal Assistant and Parking Assistant. The intelligent PA is digital personality integrated into the car will do just about anything you ask it to do relating to the vehicle including ‘BMW make me warmer’ or ‘BMW how is the traffic looking ahead’. An excellent feature that doesn’t require you moving your hands off the wheel.
The parking assistant makes parking and manoeuvring easier – this is a tool that will surely come in handy in Bahrain.
It takes over steering, acceleration, braking and gear changes with the Steptronic transmission when driving into and out of space. Its range of functions also includes the Reversing Assistant, which can reverse the vehicle for distances of up to 50 metres by steering it along exactly the same line it has just taken when moving forward.
With the great adventure, we had and with far too many features to include in this article, I would strongly encourage you to book a test drive with BMW EuroMotors once the demo car is available in Bahrain so you can experience it for yourselves.
BMW 330i Specifications:
• Four-cylinder in-line petrol engine, eight-speed Steptronic transmission
• Capacity: 1,998 cc, output: 190 kW/258 hp at 5,000 – 6,500 rpm
• Max. torque: 400 Nm (295 lb-ft) at 1,550 – 4,400 rpm
• Acceleration [0 – 100 km/h (62 mph)]: 5.8 seconds
• Top speed: 250 km/h (155 mph)
• Fuel consumption combined: 6.1 – 5.8 l/100 km (46.3 – 48.7 mpg imp)
• CO2 emissions combined: 139 – 132 g/km, exhaust standard: EU6d-TEMP