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New 2019 BMW 3 Series driven

2019-03-10 14:51

Sean Parker

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Image: Supplied

The BMW 3 Series is as part of South African culture, as the word lekker.  Everyone knows the 3. From the 'Gusheshe to the G-String and the Dolphin'.

BMW’s 3 Series has left an indelible mark on Mzansi, even though BMW SA has swopped it out of their Rosslyn Plant, after 35 years, to build the more in demand X3. 

Fast forward to 2019 and the seventh iteration of the BMW’s compact sports sedan is here.

I got behind the wheel of two derivatives available at launch: 330i and 320d. Both G20 derivatives employ four-cylinder, two-litre engines, the one a turbo petrol and the other a turbodiesel. 

Gallery: BMW 3 Series

The 330i has 190kW and 400Nm, the 320d produces 140kW and a meaty 400Nm. All that power is channelled through an ultra-smooth 8-speed automatic gearbox.

BMW says each model weighs around 55kg less ( the same as 17 600 tea bags) than its predecessor and the most powerful model (for now) feels rapid. 

The power delivery doesn’t feel as hard core compared to the previous car, the 330i, but it’ll reach 100km/h from standstill in 5.8 seconds says BMW. It boasts a lower centre of gravity and 50:50 weight distribution and is stiffer and wider than before.

But how does all of that translate into the driving experience? Pretty well, in fact. It seemed quieter and more refined than ever, but with Franschhoek Pass at my disposal the 3 Series quickly showed its dynamic agility.

It has more than enough mid-range grunt to make tackling a tight, twisty mountain pass more enjoyable than eating your favourite chocolate. The auto ‘box does a fine job of changing cogs on its own. Paddle shifts can be specified too. And yes, it still offers authentic rear-wheel driving thrills. 

As I mentioned before, it has grown up and feels even more executive than ever thanks to a bigger cabin, an optional 26cm touchscreen and connected drive features. 

The new 3’s levels of refinement are almost scary in how quickly the car picks up speed. It does so seamlessly and puts its proverbial hand up as a complete all-rounder. The 320d’s indicated range of almost 900km shows how much one can eke out of the tank. We averaged around 6.0-litre/100km, despite driving the car quite hard.

While the driving experience feels more 'grown up', BMW has also added more safety features like lane departure warning, collision and pedestrian warning with city braking function. The new 3 will even drive itself momentarily thanks to the updated adaptive cruise control feature.

Inside the cabin, everything is neatly laid out and the quality of the switchgear appears impressive. I preferred the normal steering wheel to the thicker-rimmed wheel on our Sport Line test model. Pricing for both models, starts at R634 000 and you’ll get LED headlights as standard amongst other items.

BMW quotes the boot size at 480 litres. 

The new 3 is an impressive package that’s hard to fault. It looks good (see pics), goes well and offers more tech than the 3 has ever seen. 

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