The 3 Series is one of BMW India's best-selling cars, and the seventh-generation model launched this week is armed with tech gadgetry like smartphone entry, auto-reverse and an in-car assistant that learns drivers' routine and driving style.
But what truly defines the 3 Series is not gadgetry; it's the design and driving dynamics.
First, the design: The new 3 Series is marginally bigger than its predecessor. The bodywork has precisely drawn lines. At the front, the large BMW kidney grille-thankfully, it's not as huge or as disproportionate as in the X7 or the new 7 Series-and the headlights leading off it are dominant themes. It has a longer wheelbase and shorter overhangs compared to the sixth-generation model. The rear has a sporty look thanks to the distinctive spoiler, slim L-shaped taillights with LED, and two large tailpipes. The company says optimised aerodynamics have reduced the car's drag coefficient to 0.23 (the lower the drag coefficient, the more streamlined a vehicle is).
Despite larger dimensions, the car is now lighter than before. A mix of materials, such as aluminium in the bonnet, front side panels, front spring struts and engine sub-frame, has led to a reduction of 55 kg.
The interior has a driver-focused cockpit. While the cabin is bigger compared to the earlier model, occupants will get a sense of spaciousness thank to the large glass sunroof.
Its design is such that it builds up on all the six generations of the 3 Series-the first was launched over 40 years ago, in 1975-and you can see decades of automotive design in the bodywork.
Now, driving dynamics: While we haven't yet driven the new 3 Series, it has features that can help make the occupants feel more connected to the car, like sport seats with electrical memory function, and a host of BMW ConnectedDrive technologies, including Gesture
Control, Wireless Charging and Wireless Apple CarPlay. Also making its debut in the 3 Series is the BMW Virtual Assistant, a digital personality of the vehicle that responds to voice commands. It can be addressed by saying "Hey BMW" or a wake word you define (we haven't yet tested that if you define the wake word as "Hey Mercedes", whether it'll respond or not). The spread of driver assistance systems is extensive-the Reversing Assistant, for example, keeps a record of the last 50 metres driven and assists by taking over the steering.
It gets both petrol and diesel engines. The 2.0-litre petrol engine (330i) produces an output of 258bhp and maximum torque of 400Nm, accelerating the car from 0-100kph in just 5.8 seconds. The 2.0-litre diesel engine (320d) produces an output of 190bhp and a maximum torque of 400Nm, accelerating the car from 0-100kph in 6.8 seconds. Both are mated to the eight-speed Steptronic Sport automatic transmission.
There are three variants: 320d Sport priced Rs 41.4 lakh, 320d Luxury Line priced Rs 46.9 lakh and the 330i M Sport petrol priced Rs 47.9 lakh (ex-showroom).