The 3-Series is the cornerstone of the BMW brand. It's the nameplate upon which the reputation of the roundel lies upon, and it's the vehicle whose athleticism lends credence to that idea of the "Ultimate Driving Machine." The new 2019 BMW 3-Series is the next generation of the brand's most important moneymaker, and it makes big promises about returning to form dynamically while advancing technologically. In the face of relentless competition, it will have to do just that if it wants to remain the segment favorite.
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2019 BMW 3-Series Overview
What's New for 2019
The all-new 2019 3-Series sedan, dubbed G20 by BMW engineers, is the successor to the outgoing F30 generation. Note that the Sports Wagon and hatchback-esque Gran Turismo return unchanged from the prior year. There are presently no plans to replace these models with G20-based descendants, so act now if you're hankering for these extra-practical 3s – there's no telling when the supply of these niche offerings will dry up for good.
Choosing Your BMW 3-Series
One of the greatest assets of the 3-Series is its versatility; it's powerful, comfortable, luxurious, and sporting – not to mention the three available body styles each offer a unique blend of style and practicality. For 2019, the 3-Series is offered as an all-new sedan or the carryover wagon and five-door Gran Turismo.
Regardless of roof shape or door count, most models will wear the 330i designation, or 330i xDrive if equipped with all-wheel drive, which represents BMW's familiar 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine. The sedan's powerplant enjoys numerous enhancements to the turbo and the internals, resulting in maximum power of 255 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque.
The wagon and Gran Turismo still use the older version of this motor, which means they make do with 248 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque. Impressively, the all-wheel-drive wagon runs the zero-to-60 mph sprint just 0.1 second slower than its four-door brethren, despite the sedan boasting a lighter curb weight, seven extra horses, and 37 more lb-ft of torque.
Buyers looking for more serious performance but not ready to commit to the powerhouse that is the M3 will be interested in the M340i. Available summer 2019, the heart of the M340i is a turbocharged straight-six motor tuned and finessed to 382 hp and 369 lb-ft of torque. This engine comes paired to a specially-tuned chassis, performance differential, and high-performance brakes. BMW estimates a zero-to-60 mph time of 4.2 seconds for their high-spirited concoction. It's limited only to the sedan, so don't get excited by the thought of a 382-horse, tire-smoking BMW station wagon.
The Gran Turismo is the only model that uses the 340i designation without an M preceding it. Like the M340i, things begin with a 3.0-liter turbocharged straight-six, but the similarities end there – don't expect any of the performance goodies that liven up the M340i. Horsepower and torque ratings stand at 322 and 330, respectively, and AWD is mandatory.
All engines come affixed to an eight-speed automatic transmission. This marks the first time the 3-Series hasn't been offered with a manual transmission, though in Europe a six-speed stick shift can still be found in base models.
Going about configurating a 3-Series is a rather exasperating process of first choosing what BMW calls a Design, afterwards selecting a Tier, and only then proceeding to available options and packages. Now, due to the new sedan sharing the stage with the carryover wagon and Gran Turismo, the continuity of this setup across the range has been muddled. For simplicity's sake, we've broken out the selection process and equipment levels for each body style below:
The 2019 BMW 3-Series lineup is confusing as ever this year, so don't sweat it if you find yourself lost in the options, packages, Designs, Tiers, and all the other BMW rigmarole. We'll try to make it simple: if you want a sedan, look at a 330i with the Premium and Track and Handling Packages. For those interested in the wagon, the Shadow Line Design, Premium Tier, and Track Package makes for an enticing combo. Gran Turismo buyers should get a 340i with the Premium Tier and enjoy the fastest 3-Series that isn't bestowed with the letter M.
2019 BMW 3-Series Review
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.
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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