The refreshed BMW 3 Series has improved performance, but that’s not really why most people will buy it.
Few cars are universally regarded as the gold standard bearers for a particular class of motoring. However, ask any car reviewer which car sets the standard for entry level sport/luxury sedans, and almost without exception the answer will be the BMW 3 Series.
BMW has just released the refreshed 2016 model and Fitness First mag gave it a good test.
When you slip into a 3 Series you get that wonderful, naughty feeling you’re in a performance car masquerading as daily transport. You sit lower, the steering is super-responsive and the car feels balanced around corners. And when you’re flooring the accelerator you hold on tight. The new model — essentially a midlife makeover — feels even sharper and faster (the 330i sedan with its 185kW, 2 litre 4-cylinder motor is a rocket).
At this point, we’d get all excited about the fact that BMW has upgraded the suspension struts and dampers and tightened the power-steering, giving the new model even better ride and handling. But here’s the thing: BMW itself admits most people don’t buy 3 Series cars for their technical performance. They buy them because they look good.
The new BMW 3’s design has been made more assertive; work’s been done on the bonnet and nose and on the front and rear lights. This will probably sell more cars than the upgraded mechanical underprinnings.
Exaggeration? One senior BMW Australia exec told us that 90 percent of the reason people buy a BMW is the design. So we put it to the test. We asked Fitness First member Suzy Campagnaro to take the new 330i sedan out on one of her typical days. The mark of great car design is that it looks good from any angle, in any any setting, and the 3 Series works it all. It looks good at the beach and in the city, for fitness and for work.
The cost? The new BMW 3 Series ranges from $50k for the 318i to $78k for the high-performance 340i. Our 330i is $63k, and we think it’s the sweet spot in the Series.