BMW’s facelifted 3 Series brings big screens, cleaner styling

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BMW has revealed full details on the facelifted version of its 3 Series sedan. 

BMW says the car will launch around the world from July 2022 onwards, so a Singapore debut in the second half of this year is what we are expecting. The key model variants are expected to remain largely the same for us — 318i, 320i, 330i, and M340i xDrive — with the price ranging from $260k to under $400k (with COE). 

The most significant additions are improvements to the interior screens and technology, plus a smattering of electrification for the gasoline models. However, a low-powered plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) 320e model could have a chance to make it to Singapore. 

It’s been three years since the seventh-generation of BMW’s popular executive sedan debuted here — find out all about it with our in-depth global debut, and Singapore launch stories. 

Design and appearance

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As an LCI/facelift, the car’s footprint does not expand and it remains the same size overall. The styling has been cleaned up with the lower kink in the headlamps now eliminated, and the bodywork surrounding the grille area is now straight-edged, lacking the curved flourishes of the pre-facelift model. 

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As always we expect there to be sporty/non-sport versions when it comes to visuals — the white car shown here is the base model in Germany, and the grey car in the photos is the M sport model.

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You’ll notice that the M Sport model has a large, diamond-shaped lower section in black, flanked by black L-shaped devices. The rear features a blacked-out diffuser with twin circular tailpipes. 

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The M Sport package includes M sport suspensions and variable steering, and 18-inch wheels as standard, and extra choice of colours, including M Brooklyn grey metallic (shown here), and Skyscraper grey metallic.

On the inside, this extends to a dark roof headliner, M sport seats and interior trim, and M steering wheel. 

Interior and technology

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The 3 Series adopts improvements seen on the latest BMWs that’ve just debuted in Singapore, namely the 2 Series Active Tourer and BMW i4: Both cars have larger interior screens, and ditch gearshift sticks for a cleaner interior layout. 

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The touchpoint here is the BMW Curved Display, which consists of the 12.3-inch driver’s display and the large 14.9-inch infotainment touchscreen, now powered by BMW’s latest OS 8 system with its novel interface/appearance.

That means fancier graphics and animations, always-on connectivity via 4G, and more connected services and improvements, including a smarter Intelligent Personal Assistant speech control system. 

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Keen drivers might have a tinge of sadness, since all versions of the 3 Series now come standard with an eight-speed automatic transmission — there are no manual versions, even overseas. 

That’s denoted by the total absence of a stick-type gearshifter. You now control this via a selector switch nestled on the armrest section. Thankfully, and unlike the 2 Series Active Tourer, the 3 Series retains the iDrive rotary controller.

While the BMW iX and 2 AT have ‘My Modes’ driving modes, it looks like the 3 Series (and i4) stick with the ‘classic’ BMW driving experience control mode scheme that other current but older BMWs have.

Drivetrain and electrification

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Given this is a facelift, we didn’t expect BMW to go nuts with changes to the 3 Series drivetrain options, and it didn’t. Only the gasoline six-cylinder models and diesel engines receive mild hybrid tech — and that means the big sellers for Singapore, the 318i, 320i, and 330i, will not have electrified drivetrain tech.

That could mean VES penalties in comparison to its key rival, the Mercedes-Benz C-Class, which debuted earlier this year with only mild-hybrid (C 180, C 200) versions here. 

That means performance and efficiency for those three models is the same as before: 156hp, 184hp, and 245hp respectively. You can read our Singapore reviews of these pre-facelift models to have an idea of how they fare – 318i, 320i, 330i, and M340i.

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Of the ‘normal’ 3 Series range, the M340i xDrive will again be the front-runner in performance terms. The 3.0-litre inline six has the twin-scroll turbocharger and makes the same 374hp/500Nm of torque.

Straightline performance is the same: 0-100km/h takes 4.4 seconds, and the car has a 250km/h limited top speed. 

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Mild hybrid means the car gains boost from an 11hp electric motor, with the battery located in the engine compartment itself. Combined WLTP fuel consumption is an average of 8.2L/100km, which curiously is higher than the pre-facelift model’s 7.2L/100km, though both are WLTP figures. 

A new choice of bling for the M340i includes the M Sport package Pro, which includes various M ‘sub-packages’ such as darked-out lights, M seat belts, dark gloss exterior bits, sport brakes, spoiler and more.   

This article was first published in CarBuyer.

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