Once dominating the class particularly on its handling qualities, the 3 Series has faced stiffer competition in recent times from the launch of more driver-focused rivals such as the Jaguar XE and Alfa Romeo Giulia.
BMW says that the new car raises even higher levels of quality and supreme handling established over the 40-year history of the model, during which it has sold more than 15 million globally.
The new 3 Series is a lighter, more aerodynamic car than its predecessor, and debuts a new design language said to focus on clean and precise visual lines.
Overall length and with are extended over the previous 3 Series by 9cm and 1.5cm respectively. The wheelbase grows by 4cm and the tracks by 4cm front and 2cm rear, opening up improved interior space whilst also aiding handling.
Inside the cabin is designed to be driver-focused with related controls grouped together in ‘function panels’. A new range of options will be available to personalise the car, such as aluminium mesh-effect and open-pore wood trim.
Technology debuting with the 3 Series includes an intelligent Personal Assistant feature. Similar to smartphone voice assistants and an automotive system recently launched by BMW’s direct rival Mercedes-Benz, it is activated by the occupant saying “Hey BMW”.
The system’s designers say it marks the start of a new era for the BMW Group in which drivers will increasingly be able to operate their car and access its functions and information simply by speaking.
The new BMW 3 Series range will launch in March 2019 at prices starting from £33,610, which will buy the 190hp 320d. Other launch models will include a four-wheel-drive version of this car and the petrol-powered 330i with 258hp at £37,660.
A plug-in hybrid version of the new 3 Series is also on the way. Details of the BMW 330e iPerformance and its likely on-sale date are yet to be revealed.