Perhaps we’ve been going about this all wrong. Looking through our past headlines (including my own), I’m starting to think that our nostalgic wish list for the BMW 3 Series is in some ways ignoring how the iconic luxury sedan has changed over the past decade. For the 2019 and 2020 model years, the 3 Series gets a complete makeover that changed up the car’s technology, cabin and many mechanical parts, while keeping its familiar silhouette mostly intact.
The new 3 Series is a technological marvel. There are screens all over the dashboard; they’re all very sharp and run through long lists that allow the driver to control many different aspects of the car, its safety systems and media options (including available wireless Apple CarPlay). Take the camera systems as an example of this: Back into a space and the 360-degree camera system shows an overhead view of the car; come too close to an object on either side and the screen splits to show a camera view down the side of the car so you can see how close everything is. Pulling forward into a space? You get a top-down view of the hood so you can see how close the curb or a bush is.
Similarly improved is the cabin, where materials and fit and finish are near-perfect. The modern design matches all of the technology, and there are USB-C ports (which also charge faster) to future-proof for new devices — plus, I can actually kind of fit in the backseat now.
But what the new car is not is a return to the fantastically dynamic 3 Series of years past. There’s too much computer interference with the steering and a lack of crispness to the suspension that delighted in previous generations. However, the powertrains remain excellent in both the 330i and M340i; they feel underrated, as though they put out more power than is said on paper.
Instead of the “ultimate driving machine,” it’s perhaps better to think of the redesigned 3 Series as just the “ultimate machine” with gadgets and gizmos aplenty — and though I miss the past, the future can still look bright, just different.
The reason you’re seeing two model years addressed in this piece is that the redesigned 3 Series is rolling out in waves. The 330i models, which are already available, are arriving as 2019s, but the more powerful M340i won’t be arriving until later in the summer as a 2020. Don’t be discouraged, though; the same updates are found on both models. Here’s everything you need to know about the 2019-20 BMW 3 Series:
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