This 7th generation BMW 3 Series is just as sporty and smart as its predecessors, but with some great updates. This time around, engine choices include a plug-in hybrid (PHEV) along with the traditional internal combustion petrol and diesel engines.

The latest BMW 3 Series became available in the UK in the spring of 2019. Petrol and diesel options preceded the PHEV that was launched in 2020. A facelift for this model is scheduled for July 2022. Typically this means a few updates to the exterior styling and tweaks to each of the engine varieties, but nothing too serious. If you’re a BMW fan, we think you’ll love what’s on offer with the latest 3 Series.

Technical specs for the BMW 3 Series

Petrol engines range from the 1.6-litre turbo through to a 3-litre turbo, while the diesel options are 2 or 3 litre varieties. The larger diesel is the one to go for if you want a bit more muscle and like to set a quicker pace.

When it comes to the petrol, you’ll do well with the mid-range 320i, 2-litre engine. It has a sporty feel, in keeping with the 3 Series character and enough get-up to easily overtake on country roads.

BMW 3 Series engine

The transmissions offered are a 6-speed manual or an 8-speed automatic. Both are improvements on the 6th generation BMW 3 Series and create less noise when cruising on the motorway.

The hybrid model, released a few years back now, also offers good performance.

The latest BMW 3 Series comes in the Advantage, Sport Line, Luxury Line and M Sport options. LED headlights are standard as is automatic climate control, rain sensing wipers and driver assistance systems.

3 Series performance

The PHEV BMW 3 Series combines the 2-litre petrol engine with an efficient electric motor. BMW asserts that pure electric driving lasts up to 38 miles, but in real life it’s closer to a 30-mile range. Along with the flexibility and efficiency that comes with electric technology, you’ll be able to hit 62 mph in under 6 seconds.

The petrol engine works hard to reach 62mph in 6.8 seconds, which is faster than the rival Audi A4. The 330 diesel is faster again. The six-cylinder engine accelerates to 62mph in a miniscule 5.5 seconds!

The whole range of the BMW 3 Series handles nicely, thanks to the stroke-dependent suspension damper technology that’s been used across the range. Steering is responsive and more agile than its predecessor. The PHEV is a little heavier than the petrol or diesel options, but even so, has neat handling.

Across all of the models, additional soundproofing and acoustic glazing make for a quiet ride. That’s true even when the engine is being pushed. Braking on the PHEV takes a little getting used to as the regenerative technology sends energy back to the car’s battery. But that can be said of almost any EV. Of course, the PHEV is the quietest of all when running just on her battery.

What to expect of the exterior and interior styling

The new BMW 3 Series stands out in that it’s easier to discern from the 5 Series, something that the earlier model didn’t do well at all. The nose sits lower and you won’t find any vents behind the front wheel arches. Designers say they would’ve been superfluous to performance anyway.

The restyling has also ensured the 2019 and 2020 3 Series are a little lighter and more aerodynamic than the earlier models. Inside, the cabin feels modern and high quality but it falls short of feeling ‘plush’ like the Audi and Mercedes do.

This incarnation is a little bigger than her predecessor and that equates to more legroom and a bigger boot too.

The driver gets some lovely high definition screens, with the option of touchscreen controls or the use of a click wheel to make selections. The dashboard layout is superb.  The iDrive control is easy to use while keeping your eyes on the road and menu options are laid out logically.

Unfortunately, lumbar support controls come as an extra with all trim levels, so it may be difficult to find this with used models. The endless adjustment for the steering wheel and seat height means it shouldn’t be too difficult to find your optimal driving position.

Accessories you’ll find in the BMW 3 Series

Heated seats come as standard as does sat nav and BMW’s very own Intelligent Personal Assistant. This lets you speak directly to the car just as you would with Amazon’s Alexa or Google’s Home Assist. Smartphone integration allows you to plan trips on your phone and transfer the information to your car.

Rear visibility isn’t great. BMW have tried to solve the issue with a rear camera that rotates with the steering. If parking manually, this can make it difficult to figure out when you’re aligned with a space. It’s not a big worry, however, as the Parking Assistant system can identify suitable parking spaces as well as steer you into them.

The dashboard display gives drivers a complete overview of important information. Details are completely customisable too, thanks to the Live Cockpit Professional set-up. This 12.3-inch digital display lets you easily choose what to display and when. You can also expect a great stereo and an array of other hi-tech gadgets with plenty of USB charging points too.

Practicality

The latest BMW 3 Series wins in comfort and practicality. The car is a little bigger than the 6th generation vehicle – a little over 8 cm longer and almost 2 cm wider too. The new width has enabled it to take three kids’ seats across the back. That said, it’s only the window seats that come with Isofix points.

Inner storage is accommodated with plenty of seat and door pockets, but the boot hasn’t grown with the rest of the car. You’ll still get just 480 litres of boot space in the 7th generation BMW 3 Series. The driver and front passenger get a big glove box and cubby hole under the central armrest.

The rear seats fold back in a 40/20/40 configuration to improve storage practicality. The Comfort package buys some handy storage nets for the boot and an electrically operated boot lid. This is activated by waggling your foot under the rear bumper.

As for safety, the Euro NCAP testing awarded the four-door saloon five stars in 2019 after rigorous testing. Adult and child crash protection both received high points resulting in 97% and 87% grades respectively.

The PHEV model has slightly less boot room to accommodate the battery. Expect a shallower space that’s smaller than the Volvo S60 Recharge.

Our Verdict on the 2019 BMW 3 Series

The BMW 3 Series is a reliable and economical executive saloon that also does well as a family car. Although you’d be better to opt for the touring model than a sedan if thinking of a car for family use. It’s a great drive with tech and equipment to match, creating a great overall package.

Maintenance can get a little pricey on used 3 Series cars and the latest model isn’t an exception. That said, the 7th generation 3 Series is a great car and a perfect choice if you want a fun but comfy ride.

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