And it looks like a miniature 5 Series, with even more technology inside.
The all-new BMW 3 Series has officially been unveiled at the Paris motor show, after a set of renders leaked overnight.
Measuring 4709mm long, 1827mm wide and 1442mm tall, the car is larger in every dimension than the model it replaces. The wheelbase has grown by 41mm, too, and the tracks have grown front (+43mm) and rear (+21mm).
In profile, it's almost like BMW put a 5 Series into the photocopier and printed at 2/3 scale. There's a prominent, linked kidney grille up front, flanked by headlights carrying the brand's latest light signature.
The lights also have a small notch cut out of them, something we haven't necessarily seen before. LED headlights are standard across the range, with a laserlight setup capable of casting light more than 500m down the road available as an option.
Rounding out the nose is a low, wide air intake flanked by LED fog-lights. M Sport cars get an extra set of vents set low and wide on the bumper, while non-M Sport cars run with a cleaner, simpler design.
Down back, there are punched-out guards and slim, upswept tail-lights that borrow plenty from the latest 'coupe' models, namely the X4 and Z4. There's also a hint of Lexus RC about them, but don't tell BMW we said that. The classic Hofmeister Kink features, while the character line running the car's length doesn't deviate too far from the current car's.
The body is smarter than before, with its construction contributing to a 50kg overall weight saving. It's also slippery, with a 0.23 coefficient of drag in 320d guise.
Five variants will be offered from launch: 318d, 320d, 320i, 330d and 330i. The entire petrol range consists of four-cylinder engines at the moment. The 320i makes 135kW and 300Nm from its 2.0-litre displacement, the 330i bumps those outputs to 190kW and 400Nm.
The 318d makes 110kW and 320Nm, and the 320d offers 140kW and 400Nm from the same 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel. Topping the range is the 330d – the sole six-cylinder variant at launch – with 195kW and 580Nm from its 3.0-litre inline-six oiler.
A plug-in hybrid 330e will follow the launch variants, with a 60km pure-electric range and a 100km/h sprint time of just 6.0 seconds. The line-up will also be bolstered by an M340i xDrive, with power from a turbocharged petrol inline six making 275kW and 500Nm. BMW says it'll hit 100km/h in just 4.4 seconds and sip 7.5L/100km on the combined cycle.
Regardless of engine, the 3 Series will come with a fancy set of lift-related dampers. They have an extra hydraulic element on board, designed to soften large suspension movements when called upon (apparently between one-fifth and one-third of the way through the suspension travel) for better body control.
Cars fitted with the optional M Sport suspension sit 10mm lower than standard, but employ the same technology.
Arguably the biggest leap forward over the outgoing 3 Series has been made inside, where BMW has brought its mid-sizer onto a level playing field with the new 8 Series, X5 and Z4 on the technology front.
The latest BMW OS7.0 infotainment system features, coupling a 12.3-inch driver display with a 10.25-inch central screen. It can be controlled through a central scrolling wheel, touch inputs and voice control, and is aimed at bringing the brand into line with Mercedes-Benz's MBUX setup.
The usual array of black, brown, beige and red interior colours will be offered, along with a spread of dashboard trim materials – Australian specs and pricing will be announced closer to launch.
BMW's local division has confirmed the new-generation 3 Series will arrive in local showrooms late in the first quarter of next year, so expect it around March.
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