Seven years after the F30 first made its debut in Malaysia, it’s now time for the new G20 BMW 3 Series to take its place. The seventh generation of Munich’s benchmark sports sedan has just been launched here, less than six months after the car made its international debut.
We’ll get to what you’ve all been waiting for, and that’s the price. At launch, the G20 will be offered in just the single 330i M Sport variant, fully-imported (CBU) and priced at RM328,800 on-the-road without insurance. Included in the price is a five-year, unlimited-mileage warranty with free scheduled service.
The new model is significantly larger car than its predecessor, measuring 76 mm longer (at 4,709 mm) and 16 mm wider (1,827 mm); its 2,851 mm wheelbase is also 41 mm longer. It is, however, only one millimetre taller than the old car, at 1,442 mm. The track widths are also wider by 43 mm at the front and 21 mm at the rear, which BMW says improves poise and agility.
The exterior has been given a gentle revamp and is dominated by the massive double kidney grille, now joined in the middle. It is connected to the headlights, which have a notched shape similar to recent Peugeot models and feature full LED technology with enhanced functionality and U-shaped daytime running lights.
Moving to the side, the proportions remain largely identical – the long bonnet and wheelbase, short overhangs and sweeping roofline give the car a typical sporty look. One change is that the trademark C-pillar Hofmeister kink receives a beveled edge on the top corner.
Along the flanks, there’s an upswept contour line that draws the eyes towards the prominent character line over the rear wheel arches; BMW’s Air Breather vents, which usually sit aft of the front wheels, are notably absent here. The LED tail lights feature a three-dimensional L-shaped design and tinted lenses.
The M Sport package on this car adds a sportier front bumper design with a large U-shaped centre air intake, along with protruding side skirts and a diffuser-style rear bumper insert with twin tailpipes. You also get 18-inch double-spoke Style 790 M two-tone alloy wheels, finished in Orbit Grey.
Step inside and you’ll notice styling cues taken from other new BMW models such as the G15 8 Series, G05 X5 and G29 Z4, with a clear horizontal design, electroplated silver trim around the air vents and controls and a tall centre console. The latter gets a new control panel incorporating the starter button, a redesigned gearlever, the iDrive controller and a new electronic parking brake that replaces the old manual handbrake.
As standard, the 330i comes with the range-topping BMW Live Cockpit Professional infotainment system, featuring a 10.25-inch centre screen and a 12.3-inch fully-digital instrument display with a reverse-direction rev counter. The upgraded system also incorporates the new BMW Operating System 7.0, featuring a revised user interface with larger panels.
The system can be controlled through the centre touchscreen and the iDrive rotary controller. Also fitted is the Intelligent Personal Assistant, a more advanced voice control system that can learn the user’s routines and habits, similar to the Mercedes-Benz User Experience (MBUX) system. A 10-speaker, 205-watt HiFi Loudspeaker sound system comes as standard.
Elsewhere, the sports seats have been redesigned for improved long-distance comfort and come with powered adjustment with driver’s side memory and Vernasca leather upholstery. Munich claims that cabin refinement – an area where the previous F30 has always fallen short – has been improved with measures to reduce wind noise, structural foam in the A-pillars and the use of acoustic glass for the windscreen.
Increased interior space has also been claimed, including gains in front shoulder room, rear legroom and all-around headroom. Rear entry and egress has also been improved with an increaser door aperture height, and while boot space remains the same at 480 litres, a new partitioning system has freed up an additional 36 litres of storage space. Improved outward visibility has also been touted.
Standard features include keyless entry, push-button start, triple-zone auto climate control, cruise control, Aluminium Tetragon trim, black headlining and Qi wireless smartphone charging. There’s also the BMW Digital Key feature that allows selected Samsung smartphones to be used as a key via Near Field Communication (NFC).
As far as driver assists are concerned, the 330i comes with Parking Assistant for semi-autonomous parallel and perpendicular parking, plus a reverse camera and the new Reversing Assist system that will help you reverse out of a tight spot by recalling the way you came in. Unfortunately, there are no other assists of any kind, not even autonomous emergency braking, which is a glaring omission at this price.
Under the bonnet sits the latest version of BMW’s B48 2.0 litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine, making 258 hp (up 6 hp) and 400 Nm of torque (up 50 Nm) from 1,550 to 4,400 rpm. Paired with the ubiquitous ZF eight-speed automatic transmission, it goes from zero to 100 km/h in 5.8 seconds and delivers a fuel consumption figure of 5.8 to 6.1 litres per 100 km.
Under the skin, the new 3 Series benefits from an increased use of aluminium and high-strength steels, so it’s now up to 55 kg lighter than before. The new chassis delivers a 25% increase in overall rigidity, and features aluminium suspension components to reduce unsprung weight.
The double-joint MacPherson strut front and five-link rear suspension uses specially tuned kinematics to improve steering precision and handling, while at the rear, rigid control arms and subframes and the use of thrust arms for body mountings ensure precise wheel location.
For the first time, the standard chassis (with M Sport suspension on this car) is equipped with lift-related dampers that provides additional hydraulic damping at the front and limits compression at the rear. With continuously variable damping rates and progressive stiffness according to spring travel, the new dampers are said to provide a better compromise between comfort and sporty handling.
So there you have it – the new G20 BMW 3 Series is now here in Malaysia. What do you think of the specs and the price? Sound off in the comments section after the jump.
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