At long last, here is the refreshed, sixth-generation, 2015 BMW 3 Series LCI (Life Cycle Impulse), finally revealed to the world. After months of speculation and leaked photographs of the car, here is the newest BMW to hit the streets, straight out of Munich.
*BMW 330e Plug-In Hybrid announced for 2016: 2.1l/100km and 250hp mentioned
Now, you may be wondering: what’s new? And honestly, there isn’t much if you’re just looking from the outside – or from the inside… for that matter. Underneath the hood is where the biggest changes take place, so stay tuned as we uncover some surprisingly significant changes bit by bit.
What we can tell you to look out for is that the front bumper is now very mildly reshaped, and that the headlamps themselves, while offering a full LED option (with BMW Selective Beam system) like the M3/ M4 we’ve seen in the past, has also been redesigned ever so mildly for the standard 3 Series. There’s a new sensor for the optional Active Cruise Control, located above the central air intake, BMW says.
Around the rear, all that appears to be new has to do with the lower part of the rear bumper, which we wouldn’t blame you for not noticing otherwise – above is an ‘old-next-to-new’ photo to help you differentiate the two: be warned, you may need a few more angles to really tell them apart. (red = old, blue = new) BMW also says that the full LED taillights have been redesigned as well.
If you thought spotting the changes outside were tough, inside, you’ve probably got no chance if we didn’t tell you that the climate control illumination has moved on to a white-coloured digital display, rather than the amber ones of old. The storage compartment just ahead of the gear lever is also now a sliding affair, displacing the previous lid-type cover.
BMW tells us that there’s more chrome than met the eye before, particularly surrounding a few controls, air vents and central control panel. Interior personalisation options have been expanded to include a few extra possibilities as well.
Speaking of which, BMW 3 Series customers can still choose from a choice of Sport, Luxury and M Sport design lines for their cars.
Now, here’s where it gets interesting for the new 3 Series, because the engines that were in them have mostly been thrown out for brand new ones – all sourced from the new BMW EfficientDynamics engine family, and all EU6-compliant. Power outputs range from 116hp to 326hp, for the three-, four-, and six-cylinder engines.
The three- and four-cylinder engines have balancer shafts that are said to smoothen performance throughout the engine speed range. The modular design of the engines see standardised interfaces for the engine mounts and the connections to the cooling system, intake and exhaust systems as well as the heating and air conditioning system.
NEW 340i: In tow with the very minimal exterior and interior updates, the new F30 LCI features a new powerhouse of a 340i variant slots in to dethrone the 335i of old, and with it, a new straight-six petrol monster of a 3.0-litre engine – codenamed B58 – which replaces the old straight-six like for like. It also shares a lot more in common with the engines found in the M3/M4.
Power outputs for the 340i equate to 326hp (20hp more than before) between 5,500rpm to 6,500rpm, and 450Nm of torque from 1,380rpm. Century sprints for the car are an impressive 4.8 seconds, while the xDrive variant does it at a quicker 4.6 seconds.
NEW 330i: Also in line with the changes is the introduction of a 330i, four-cylinder BMW TwinPower version that takes over from the previous 328i – although, it appears to us that some markets, like the US, will still refer to this as the 328i (likewise with the 328d there). The 330i develops 252hp and 350Nm of torque, which is enough to accelerate it from standstill to 100km/h in 5.8 seconds.
Further down the ranks, even the four-pots that use to drive the pre-LCI model have been replaced by the newer batch of B48 mills, and with it, the same updates to the turbos and more, seen other the other engines as well. The result across the board, BMW tells us, is better throttle response and improved fuel consumption and emissions by up to 13%.
FIRST 3-CYL PETROL: For the first time, BMW is introducing a new three-cylinder petrol engine to the popular 3 Series, reserving the 318i designation. The 1.5-litre BMW TwinPower unit makes 136hp and 220Nm of torque (230Nm with the Overboost function). 0-100km/h is listed at 8.9 seconds, which is a fair bit faster than the previous four-cylinder engine in the 316i, which itself made the exact power output figures.
Here’s how the full range of new 3 Series engine variants shape up for performance:
What else is new?
TRANSMISSION: Sticking with the theme of not showing its new colours just on the outside, the new BMW 3 Series has also benefitted from a reworked eight-speed Steptronic torque converter automatic transmission, that is said to now feature a Proactive Driving Assistant, which uses navigation data to determine in advance what powertrain strategy to use based on the upcoming route. This is apparently only available to vehicles equipped with the eight-speed Steptronic transmission.
While a manual transmission is typically kept further away from our market, we’re told that it has been updated with a new auto-blip feature for the avid enthusiast.
CHASSIS: BMW has also further developed the 3 Series' dampers, and put up stiffer suspension for the car. Work was also done to the steering, which is believed to be more refined for better control and agility.
NEW TECH: Where tech is concerned, the new BMW 3 Series gets an updated Navigation System Professional infotainment unit, which now only boots up quicker than ever before, it also offers faster route calculation and more realistic 3D graphics. The local maps are updated automatically for free, for the first three years only.
The 3 Series is also now LTE/ 4G ready, geared to handle the quickest possible internet connectivity of our times. The connectivity speed also assists the functionality of the various BMW ConnectedDrive applications.
So... think the new 3 Series facelift has what it takes to fend off its chief rivals? Or should BMW have done a bit more with it?
Take a closer look at the details of the car in this video: