Two four-cylinder models will be the trailblazers.
THE FIRST examples of BMW’s lighter and more driver-focused 3 Series will arrive in Aussie showrooms this March with prices starting from $67,900.
The first seventh-gen 3 Series models to be made available locally will be the 320d and 330i, both of which are powered by a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine (with the oil-burner using twin turbos), and both gain M Sport interior and exterior treatments as standard equipment.
The 320d starts at $67,900, which is an increase of $2100 over the equivalent last-gen diesel, though.
With a twin-turbo four-pot, the 320d sends 140kW and 400Nm to the rear wheels via an eight-speed automatic gearbox. Power has not increased during the generational leap as the engine carries over from the sixth-gen model.
However, BMW claims the latest 3 Series is up to 55kg lighter than its predecessor depending on specification.
Stepping up to the more powerful 330i costs $70,900, meaning the cost of the mid-level sedan has not changed between generations.
The same can’t be said for power, with 190kW and 400Nm being sent to the rear wheels (up 5kW/50Nm) via an eight-speed automatic ‘box. The engine is a modified version of that fitted to the outgoing 330i.
Australian customers will be treated to the latest-generation of BMW’s adaptive M suspension as standard on the 330i, lowering the ride height by 10mm and adding electronically controlled dampers. The 320d has M sport suspension as standard, which lowers the ride height, but misses out on the adaptive dampers.
Customers can also option an M Sport limited-slip differential for their 330i, with the electronically controlled system aiding the car’s dynamic ability.
The all-wheel drive M340i will join the 3 Series range locally in 2019.
Competing against the all-new 3 Series are its classic rivals, the Audi A4 and Mercedes-Benz C-Class.
The latter’s C220d starts at $64,900, undercutting the BMW, while the C300 wears a sticker price of $71,400, making it the most expensive of the German trio in equivalent spec. The older C300 has the same 190kW output as the BMW 330i, but is down 30Nm.
Meanwhile, the A4 2.0-litre TDI starts at $67,300, making it line-ball with the diesel BMW. Both have a 2.0-litre turbo engine producing 140kW and 400Nm, with the most significant difference being where power is sent – the Audi diverting grunt to the front treads, while BMW preferences the rear.
Audi’s A4 2.0-litre TFSI is priced at $70,300, making it the cheapest of the Germans, however it is the least powerful with outputs of 185kW and 370Nm.
By Cameron Kirby, 14 Jan 2019 News