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2019 BMW 3 Series Sedan: Can It Regain Its Former Glory?

2019 BMW 3 Series Sedan: Can It Regain Its Former Ultimate Driving Glory?

October 15, 2018

Let’s go back to the beginning, seven generations and more than 40 years ago. This was long before the 2019 BMW 3 Series Sedan was announced to the world at the 2018 Paris Auto Show.

The Ultimate Driving Machine Arrives

The year is 1975. The first-generation BMW 3 Series brought the “imported sport sedan” concept to the US. The BMW 3 Series took pride in calling itself “The Ultimate Driving Machine.” The rapid growth of this segment was fueled by young baby boomers, who were open to a much more involving driving experience than the one they had experienced growing up, riding in their parents’ big, floaty American barges.

The BMW 3 Series Becomes The Yuppie-mobile

The BMW 3 Series was at the forefront of this movement, and it became even more popular in the 1980s and 1990s. This is when the 3 Series became known as the official vehicle of the “yuppies,” the young urban professionals who saw the BMW badge as validation of their career and financial success. Over time, as these boomers got married, had children, and stayed loyal to the BMW brand, the 3 Series grew to accommodate them.

Losing Its “Ultimate Driving Machine” Cred

As more and more people were attracted to the brand for reasons of status, as opposed to driving enjoyment, BMW engineers responded. The BMW 3 Series got bigger, softer and flabbier. No longer did the standard 3 Series come out at the top of comparison tests with its peers. If you wanted the feel of the original 3 Series, you had to spend significantly more for an upgraded “sport” suspension, wheels and tires. Or you could go all the way, and seriously splurge on a very expensive M3 performance model.

Disappointed driving enthusiasts sought out other compact luxury sport sedans with better behind-the-wheel experiences. Through the years, the competition has grown quite fierce, and now includes the other traditional German brands (Mercedes-Benz and Audi); the Japanese luxury offshoots of their mass-market brands (Lexus, Infiniti, and Acura); British/Indian Jaguars; Swedish/Chinese Volvos; Italian Alfa Romeos; and now the new Korean cars introduced in this segment (the Hyundai G70 and the Kia Stinger). The electric Tesla Model 3 has also been making a significant sales impact. The BMW 3 Series is no longer The Ultimate Driving Machine, by any measurement. Whether the average 3 Series driver cares about this is another question entirely.

SUVs Are Killing Sedans

Another trend that is making life difficult for compact sport sedans today is the recent meteoric rise of SUVs as the most popular body style choice. Most of these luxury sedans now have to compete against the comparably-sized SUV models produced by their own brands, as well as those of their competitors.

Against this backdrop, BMW has just announced the new 2019 BMW 3 Series Sedan. Can it return the 3 Series to its former pinnacle, at the top of the compact luxury sport sedan heap? Let’s take a look…

How Is The 2019 BMW 3 Series Sedan Different From The Current Model?

As with most new vehicles, the 2019 BMW 3 Series Sedan has increased in size, compared to the model it is replacing. The 2019 BMW 3 Series Sedan is:

  • 2.9” Longer in overall length
  • 1.6” Longer in wheelbase
  • 0.6” Wider
  • 0.5” Taller

This translates to more space inside, especially in the rear seat, where it is badly needed. The trunk space has also been increased, from a smallish 13 cu.ft. to a much improved 17 cu. ft. The styling is evolutionary, with a larger grille and sharp creases for a stronger visual impression.

Improved Handling Returns To The Standard 2019 BMW 3 Series Sedan

The 2019 BMW 3 Series Sedan retains its desirable 50:50 weight distribution, and it now has a re-engineered body that is 25 percent more rigid. These things are good for handling. Also good for handling are all-new lightweight components in the suspension, steering, and braking systems. Unique “lift-related dampers” provide excellent handling and a smooth ride, without the complexity and cost of an electronically-controlled suspension setup. For those who want even better control, the electronic Adaptive M Suspension will be an option. The good news is that it may not be necessary.

Power Options: Updated But Familiar

The two models that will be initially released in the US market will be the rear-wheel drive 330i and the M340i, along with their xDrive all-wheel drive variants. The 330i will come with a 2.0L four-cylinder turbocharged engine rated at 255 horsepower, seven more than the current model. The M340i has a 3.0L six-cylinder engine with 382 horsepower. This is 62 horsepower more than the current 340i’s 320 horsepower, a major power boost for performance-minded drivers.

The bad news, for those who still care, is the total absence of any type of manual transmission on any model of the 2019 BMW 3 Series Sedan that will be sold in America. An eight-speed automatic will be your only choice. While this is a sad day for BMW’s standard bearer, it is a reality of today’s driving environment. Increased traffic volume makes driving a manual less enjoyable, and many advanced driver assistance technologies cannot function without having control of the transmission. If you do like driving a stick, in a BMW or any other vehicle, get one now, while you still can.

Technology To Meet The Needs Of Today’s Drivers

Updated tech has been applied to the 2019 BMW 3 Series Sedan in many different areas. Standard equipment on every model will include LED automatic headlights, automatic wipers, and three-zone climate control inside. A ten-speaker audio system is also standard.

iDrive 6.0, which comes with an 8.8” touchscreen and a 5.7” information display for the driver, is standard equipment. Forward collision alert with automatic emergency braking is standard as well. Optional tech features include:

  • Heads-up display
  • 360-Degree camera, with smartphone remote access
  • NFC tech in doors to permit unlocking with enabled smartphones
  • Adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go
  • Lane keeping assist
  • Blind-spot monitoring
  • Automatic reverse braking
  • Rear cross-traffic alert.
  • Active parking assistant
  • Customizable 10.25“ touchscreen and 12.3” fully digital instrument cluster
  • 16-Speaker, 464-watt Harmon Kardon audio system

Coming To BMW Showrooms In 2019

The 2019 BMW 330i and 330i xDrive Sedans will go on sale in March of 2019. Pricing for the 330i will start at $41,195 ($50 less than the current model). The M340i and M340i xDrive will arrive later in the spring of 2019. The 330e plug-in hybrid model will be out sometime in 2020.

Should You Lease A 2019 BMW 3 Series Sedan?

The 2019 BMW 3 Series Sedan is likely to be a great vehicle to lease, as its previous generations have been. It should provide you with a greatly enhanced driving experience, has loads of tech as both standard and optional equipment, and is likely to be leased at affordable prices, due to the fact that it is one of BMW’s volume models. Add to this a factory warranty for the entire time you have it, and you can expect a pleasant leasing experience. If you really like the 2019 BMW 3 Series Sedan, you may want to lease another one when your lease is up. If not, you can simply choose a completely different vehicle for your next lease. That’s the freedom you get with leasing!