The 2019 BMW 3-Series continues its evolution from a sport compact luxury car into a tech-heavy sedan.
The 2019 BMW 3-Series follows the rest of the BMW mainstream lineup toward a tech-heavy push—it's a surprise that BMW isn't calling it the "3.0-Series."
With the 2019 3-Series, BMW kept largely the same hardware, but the "software" of the car received its biggest update in a decade.
When it goes on sale in March 2019, the 3-Series will be available in 330i and 330i xDrive configurations. A higher-power M340i will be available in the summer with a plug-in hybrid 330e following in 2020—and an M3 is certainly in the mail. The 2019 BMW 330i will cost $41,195 to start, including destination.
The new 3-Series features the automaker's latest infotainment system, with two setups that offer a touchscreen and digital instrument display. The standard version pairs an 8.8-inch touchscreen with a 5.7-inch digital display. The upgraded version offers a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster with a 10.3-inch touchscreen. The latter offers Apple CarPlay compatibility, built-in wi-fi hotspot, two USB ports, and built-in navigation.
BMW said that its upgraded infotainment system will offer more natural voice commands (prompting the system requires a "Hey, BMW..." a la "Hey Siri") and a suite of convenience features already available on the 5-Series. The system can read emails and set destinations in the navigation ("...take me home"), change temperature in the cabin ("...I'm cold"), or update the driver on mechanical conditions ("...is there enough oil?"). BMW says the system can be updated with new commands.
The new 3-Series is marginally bigger than the outgoing version that it replaces. The 2019 3-Series measures 112.2 inches between the wheels, almost two inches more than the last version, with 0.6 inches added to the width. The new 3-Series is half an inch taller than the outgoing model, although the interior dimensions are largely the same. Rear-seat passengers get just 35.2 inches of leg room—up from 35.1 inches—and front-seat passengers get almost two fewer inches of head room in the new 3-Series, compared to the outgoing version.
The 2019 3-Series looks marginally sportier than the car it replaces. The twin kidney grille reaches further back onto the hood, and the lower bumper is sculpted with a larger chin and molded inlets on the sides that house the foglights. A large cutout for the front-facing camera and sensors likely necessitated the change over last year's thinner lower bumper. The thinner headlight housing now encases standard LEDs, upgradeable to adaptive LEDs with "Laserlight" tech lifted from the i8.
Along the body sides, the new 3-Series has clearer separation between the window line and a body line that reaches from the front wheel toward the back of the sedan. A line at the bottom kicks up toward the signature Hoffmeister kink in the rear roof pillar, which is more pronounced in the 3-Series. The rear window is frameless this time around, closer to the 4-Series Gran Turismo.
The rear tailpipes are now split on all models, and thinner taillights punctuate a more rounded decklid kick.
Power and performance
Two familiar engines will power the 3-Series next year. The first to go on sale, the 330i, will boast a 2.0-liter turbo-4 that's been upgraded over the outgoing version. The new base engine makes 255 horsepower, up 7 from the outgoing version, and 295 pound-feet of torque, up 27. The new turbo-4 will power the rear as standard, or all four wheels when optionally equipped. It's mated exclusively to an 8-speed automatic.
The M340i uses a turbo-6, same as the last version, paired to all-wheel drive. The M340i's turbocharged inline-6 received a similar power bump from the last version, the new engine makes 382 hp and 369 lb-ft, up 62 hp and 39 lb-ft from the last version. BMW said the M340i will run up to 60 mph in 4.2 seconds.
It's not clear if the 3-Series will be available with a 6-speed manual transmission again in the U.S.
BMW shaved up to 121 pounds from the 2019 3-Series' overall mass and made the body 25 percent stiffer than the outgoing version. The 3-Series uses its familiar double-joint spring front and five-link rear suspension to smother bumps. An optional M Sport suspension that stiffens the ride and lowers the body 0.4 inches is standard on all-wheel drive cars. Adaptive dampers are available in the new 3-Series, and when equipped with built-in navigation, will automatically adjust the firmness based on GPS data about the road ahead.
BMW packed the new 3-Series with its latest safety tech including standard automatic emergency braking. Adaptive cruise control and active lane control are optional, and can help keep the 3-Series centered in its lane for long drives. An optional sophisticated parking-assistance feature borrowed from the new X5 crossover SUV can remember how the 3-Series maneuvered into its spot and automatically back the car out.
LED headlights are standard, and the new 3-Series will offer adaptive LEDs and its "Laserlight" borrowed from the i8 as options.