Back to being a sport sedan. The best news about the 2019 BMW 3-Series is that it has remembered its mission in life. The previous generation was competent enough, but it drew criticism for losing some of the dynamism that made BMW so popular.

This year’s car has fixed that. The engine gets more power (now producing 255 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque), but the handling is the star of the show. A recalibrated suspension is confident and composed, while “Sport Mode” allows the steering rack to transmit more feedback to your fingertips.

The new car is slightly larger than the old, but it’s over 120 pounds lighter according to BMW. A sportier suspension setup is available, but the base configuration is good. The only real loss is the manual transmission. The 3-Series is now only available with an eight-speed automatic.

The looks have been sharpened, too. Don’t worry, it’s still a sedan – with 17 cubic feet of trunk space and a folding second row, the 3-Series is more practical than ever.

Updated technology (mostly). The 3-Series sees a few welcome tech additions for 2019. Most notable is standard automatic emergency braking, which was overdue to match the competition. The latest iDrive system is good, too. Running through a 8.8-inch central touchscreen (a 10.3-inch upgrade is available), it’s more capable and uses better voice recognition than the last generation.

The new 3-Series has a few other nifty tricks up its sleeve, like a parking assist feature that remembers how you pulled in and pulls out automatically. The lone sore spot is smartphone compatibility – after the first year, BMW charges a substantial subscription fee for Apple CarPlay. No other carmaker does this, and it’s one area where BMW remains stuck in the past.


BMW 3-Series

More powertrains to come. With its new engine, the 3-Series is ahead of both the Mercedes-Benz C-Class and the Audi A4 on power. It’s also surprisingly frugal. The EPA estimates fuel economy at 26 miles per gallon city, 36 mpg highway, and 30 combined. That’s better than the Mercedes and matches the less powerful Audi.

But the 3-Series is just getting started. An M340i trim is due for the summer of 2019, and a plug-in hybrid is slated for sometime in the next year or two. A new M3 can’t be far behind. With BMW’s expertise in both performance and hybrid technology, we’re nothing but optimistic.

The usual flood of options ... at the usual prices. Aside from the above squabble over smartphone compatibility, the features on the 3-Series are comprehensive. All 3-Series models get LED headlights and a sunroof, and the interior can be configured in zillions of ways depending on your upholstery and infotainment preferences.

It’s easy to rack up a bill in the process. Many of the options (like a head-up display or blind-spot monitoring) are buried in pricey bundles. All the same, the 3-Series still manages to come in cheaper than its chief rival, the C-Class. With judicious option selection, it’s not bad value for a luxury sport sedan.

Final thoughts. The 2019 BMW 3-Series may not be revolutionary, and even its mighty throne is starting to rumble from the success of crossovers like the BMW X3.

But with the 3-Series, BMW has demonstrated that it still knows how to make a sport sedan. It’s significantly improved from the previous generation, and it puts the ball firmly back in the court of competitors. For drivers who believe in enjoying the journey, this is good news.

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