Category: BMW

BMW 2 Series Facelift in South Africa

BMW 2 Series Facelift South Africa

South African Car News: BMW 2 Series Facelift

The task of face lifting a vehicle is a tricky one, you see, give the patient a completely new face and you just damn all owners of the current model by throwing their resale value out the proverbial window, but tweak a light and add a paintjob and a rimjob here and there and you’re basically just wasting everyone’s time. So, how has BMW done, then, with the facelifted 2 Series and M2?

Not an ugly car at all, the 2 Series still has quite a bit of longevity in its frisky yet elegant lines, however, in true BMW fashion, while only minor, the updates make quite the difference when all added together. This isn’t to say that the 2 Series was designed with faults or bits that might age more than others, but the LCI (Life-cycle Impulse) which is just BMW speak for facelift, gives the manufacturer a chance to improve aspects of the vehicle which they feel consumers may or may not have asked for. So, without turning this into an essay, the following are changes which one can expect on the 90210ed BMW 2 Series and M2 models.

  •  New headlight and taillight clusters incorporating redesigned LED signatures and varying trim options ie: blacked out surrounds etc. and LED lighting as standard
  • Redesigned, wider kidney grill
  • Larger lower air-intakes on the front bumper
  •  Three new colours, namely: Mediterranean Blue and Seaside Blue, as well as a Beverley Hills appropriate Sunset Orange. Buyers can now choose from 12 colours – what a time to be alive!
  • 16, 17 and 18-inch wheels are now available across the ​range with Jet Black and Bicolour Jet Black wheels now available, bringing the number of rim options to 17.
  • A redesigned and more pronounced instrument cluster which is more driver-focussed (as opposed to passenger focussed?)

  • Upgraded and more premium interior finishes which just further enhance the premium feel within the cabin of the 2 Series and M2, including upgraded materials and chrome bits.
  • The latest version of iDrive can also be found on derivatives specced with the Navigation Professional system, this going hand in hand with the new 8.8-inch touchscreen display.
  • WiFi connectivity for up to 10 devices and a wireless phone charger

The engine line-up is set to remain the same as the current line-up with petrol and diesel engines ranging from 135 kW and 270 N.m in the 220i to 250 kW and 500 N.m in the M240i. The M2, too, remains unchanged, churning out 272 kW and 465 N.m (500 N.m on overboost) from its TwinPower 3.0-litre turbocharged straight-six motor.
So then, have BMW succeeded in maintaining resale values while giving the range a worthwhile refresh? Well, the facelifted 2 Series launches overseas in July 2017 so expect local availability towards the second half of 2017 – then we’llbe able to answer that question!

Released: BMW M550d & M550i X Drive – The Models Which South Africa Won’t Get.

BMW M550i South Africa

South African Car News: BMW M550d & M550i Xdrive

BMW M550i X Drive South Africa
It’s True. BMW have just released both the M550d and M550i – very exciting indeed, or not… As of yet, we have no news on exactly if or when these stinkingly powerful 5 Series variants will be heading to our beautiful country.

BMW M550d

First to be released by BMW was the M550d xDrive, which if you didn’t know has the most powerful 6-cylinder diesel engine ever in the automotive industry. It’s 3-litre displacement is aided by four turbochargers. This is a fairly complicated setup with two low pressure turbochargers helping with low down response and two higher pressure units for power. It is worth noting that both low pressure turbos and one high pressure unit will always be running, with the second high pressure charger kicking in above 2 500 rpm. This makes sure that the M550d xDrive will hit 100 km/h in around 4.5 seconds. Mighty fast for a diesel, but with 294 kW and 760 N.m on tap, what else could one expect?

BMW M550i X Drive South Africa

Handling all this power will be BMW’s xDrive all-wheel-drive system which does not spoil all the fun as BMW say that the front axle only comes into play when needed, meaning this puppy may still be able to get a little sideways. That’s if you can break traction on the 275/35 R19 rear wheel tyres needed to control all that juice.

BMW M550D South Africa

The BMW M550d xDrive will also have some unique visual elements, such as the Exterior mirror housings, radiator grille frame, bumper design elements and side air breathers all in Cerium Grey. A purchaser of this vehicle can expect M Sport Suspension, integral active steering, M aerodynamics package, M Performance exhaust system and M sport brakes finished in blue as standard.

If this isn’t exciting enough, there is also the option of the now ranging topping 5 Series variant -the M550i xDrive.

M550i xDrive

You won’t find 6-cylinders here but instead a 4.4 litre turbocharged V8 Motor producing a blustering 340 kW and 650 N.m. In conjunction with the 8 speed sports auto transmission and rear bias xDrive, the M550i will hit 100 km/h in just 4 seconds. My question is, then, how fast is new BMW M5 going to be?!

BMW M550i South Africa

This model features the same design and styling characteristics as the M550d with the M aero package and Cerium Grey details.

BMW M550i X Drive Interior South Africa

Both models will be available with the connected drive features and technologies available in other 5 Series variants such as the remote parking feature. You can read more on the current 5 Series range from our launch article here.

BMW M550D South Africa

Will these models be coming to South Africa?

Sadly, probably not. This could be for many reasons and in terms of the M550i that reason would be pricing. The M550d on the other hand might not even make it to the UK and will just be a european model. If it’s not going to the UK, it’s definitely not coming to South Africa and they will probably keep it as a left hand drive model only. These models are available from June, so there still may be some time for them to change their mind, but we doubt that’ll happen.

BMW M550i X Drive South Africa
We should however be receiving the new BMW M5 which purportedly also features a rear biased xDrive system – no news on that either, though.

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Is This The Hottest BMW M4 Yet? The BMW M4 CS

The Hottest BMW M4 Has Arrived in South Africa: The BMW M4 CS

Since the beginning of the compact sports coupe, the BMW M3, now called the M4 in its Coupe variant, has been the yardstick and the go to car for all that is good in that segment. Over the years, it’s faced competition from Mercedes, Audi, Jaguar and now recently, Alfa Romeo but it’s still widely regarded as the king in this segment.

The gap, though, between the BMW and its peers has shrunk in recent times and upon seeing this, the Bavarians have launched a special, limited and rare as an honest politician version, and it’s headed to South Africa. This new or updated M version, dons the name M4 CS. Not CSL, CS. This car is meant to slot in between the M4 Competition Package and the GTS, of which there are only 25 units in South Africa. So for all intents and purposes, this will be the hottest M4 that you can now buy in South Africa. That’s discounting the rare GTS DTM Champion Edition which is due in SA imminently. Can BMW make up their minds already?!

Power comes from the same 3.0 litre twin-turbo straight six, delivering no less that 339 kW and 600 N.m of torque. This translates to a 3.9 seconds 0-100 km/h and a top speed of 280km/h. Visual changes will be easy to spot for the BMW die-hard fans. From the revised rear spoiler and rear diffuser at the rear to the classic mix of leather and alcantara in the cabin with M colours adorning to seat belts, seats and steering wheel, you’ll know that this M4 is special. The biggest change is found at the rear where the OLED lights from the GTS form part of the CS standard equipment. The CS gets special light weight alloys that are wrapped in Michelin Pilot Cup 2 semi slick tyres which no doubt, will help set a blazing time around “the green hell” of 07:38”, a full 14 seconds faster than a standard M4, and we all know that in the world of track driving, 14 seconds is a lifetime.

So in our opinion, BMW has made sure that it has enough variations of the M4 to ward of attacks from different manufacturers for the Sports Coupe title which it so deservedly owns, and from what we are reading, it seems as though they have bought themselves more time. Question is though, how long can they keep this up?

 

 

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Does the 5 Series live up to its title – the business athlete?

The Business Athlete. That’s a strong title which can be translated in many ways, for me, it’s a title that evokes a sense of presence, stance and performance. When this title represents a car, one would naturally have high expectations – a business athlete vehicle would have to do many things, very well.

Last year BMW outdid themselves with the 7 Series with looks, technology, performance and comfort few can match. As a result of this, there were high expectations for the 7th generation 5 Series.

The beautiful coastal town of George would be our playground for the two days of the launch. During this time I got plenty of time behind the wheel to sample two variants, the 540i and 530d.

Upon arriving at the Oubaai golf resort and after checking out some of the sample classic 5 Series models that were on display, we headed over to the beautiful lined up 5 Series fleet. A range of variants and colors, with all but one fitted the M-Sport exterior package. I was never a massive fan of the 5th and 6th generation 5 Series but BMW have really stepped it up with the 7th generation.

Strong, beautiful lines feature down the doors and down the bonnet giving it an aggressive, sporty look. It has a good stance – it sits strong, wide and has a presence. It definitely shares many design features with the 7 Series, but in a more compact, sporty package. The rear of this vehicle follows suit with the rest of the car with its wide rear end and large shoulders. All variants of the 5 Series will also feature dual exhaust pipes, one on either side of the vehicle. I felt this added to the sporty presence and symmetry. This has to be the most beautiful 5 Series in a long time, which only leaves me waiting to see how good a 7th Gen M5 will look.

A friend of mine said to me that the 5 series is no longer a bigger 3 series, but a smaller 7 series. This is so true, and the interior backs up that statement. Large bolstered seats are a lovely place to sit and provide good support. The M-Sport steering wheel fills the hands nicely and you are surrounded by leather, wood and metal.

A few interior features stood out to me; the multi-zone air conditioning panel is a full touch responsive digital display and the attention to detail on this system impressed me – sometimes the smaller things make the biggest difference. The iDrive system has been updated and features 6 main horizontal blocks on the home screen, providing access to options such as media, navigation and Connected Drive. I enjoyed the fact that each block or option updates in realtime and when clicked or touched, opens the feature up on the full screen.

Gesture control is also available- I had never used this before so after a few minutes of wafting my hands around at varying speeds, I finally figured it out and once I did, it responded and worked well. To sum it up, it is a very nice place to spend many hours behind the wheel.

After exploring the vehicles, taking photos and playing with features, I was itching to get behind the wheel and find out if the 5 series really was a business athlete. The first variant I drove was the 540i, which features a 3.0 straight six twin turbo engine producing 250 kW and 450 N.m of torque. This is the most powerful engine available in the 5 series in South Africa, until the M5 of course.

Power is delivered wonderfully through the 8-speed Sports auto – it’s smooth and linear. It is very well insulated from exterior noise and speed can creep up on you very quickly, but from the outside, the 540i produces a low-key but powerful exhaust note, stretching the 540i legs into the higher RPM and shifting with the Sports Auto does provide a satisfying blip which can be heard from the interior. It serves as just a little reminder that you are driving the performance based business athlete.

The double wishbone suspension on the front provides a sharp front end and cornering at speed will not make you feel uneasy at all. The 5 Series is very well balanced. On the long sweeping bends along our route in George, one can be confident to feed more power mid corner and even though the 7th generation took it in its stride, the rear end did start to twitch slightly, but never at one point did it feel uncontrollable,

The 5 Series is by no means a small vehicle and providing a helping hand to driving performance is the adaptive handling system. Under 60 km/h the rear wheels turn in the opposite direction to the front, to a maximum of 3 degrees. Further to this, the new 5 Series weighs less thanks to the use of lighter but stronger materials. The extra agility was noticeable in tight bends, when expecting the vehicle to understeer slightly, it responded with more front end grip.

The 5 Series now feels like a good mix between the 7 Series and the 3 Series, bringing comfort, luxury and space elements from the former, and the dynamic attributes from the latter.

Would I buy a 540i? No. The main reason for this goes by the name of 530d. In my opinion from what I experienced over the two days in George, this is the variant to pick from the new 5 Series range.

You don’t get the same level of performance as the 540i, but you do get 620 N.m of torque, which is a lot. This torque also kicks in at the lower end of the rpm range which gives lovely near instant acceleration. As expected, power does fade in the higher rpm where the 540i excels but the performance is still fantastic, and being a diesel it comes with a host other benefits. One of these is the fact that it sips fuel and will give you a 4.5 l/100km rating.

It is slightly heavier and this can be felt when driving hard, but in terms of driving dynamics, there is little difference from the 540i. Apart from the 530d and 540i variants that I drove, another petrol and diesel engine are available in the from of a 530i and 520d.

There are a host of cool features on the 7th generation 5 Series, it features the ever improving Connected Drive and semi autonomous driving. The car will even pick up your scheduled meetings in your smartphone calendar, and using the built in RTTI and business navigation system, which is now a standard feature, it will drop you a message to let you know that because of traffic conditions, you will need to leave earlier. If you have a smartphone that supports wireless charging, the 5 Series will do that for you as well if you simply leave your phone in the front console.

The head up display is now also 70 percent bigger and has a better resolution, allowing the driver to have more information in front of them, if they want.

Taking the number one spot, though, has to be the smart key. With a digital display to allow for starting, opening windows and checking vehicle information, its pretty cool. What’s cooler though is the fact that you can remotely drive your car in or out of a parking space when standing outside.

In conclusion, the 5 Series lives up to its title, the business athlete. It’s a car that you can spend many many hours behind the wheel of and be a very happy, comfortable motorist. Yes, it shares many features from the 7 Series, but the 7 Series is a car you want to be driven in, the 5 Series is a car you want to drive, its enjoyable to drive and provides a host of features to make your life easier and more comfortable.

 

Pricing

530i :  R838,700

540i : R985,300

52od : R770,500

530d :  R952, 500

 

We Drive the BMW M4 GTS

We all have moments in life when we have a  “pinch me” experience. For car lovers, it may be driving a specific car. This was the case for me recently when I was invited to the unveiling of the new BMW M4 GTS, which happened at the inaugural SA Festival of Motoring hosted by the Kyalami Racetrack. Seeing this jacked up M4 in the flesh was one thing, with its large front splitter, orange and silver wheels and large rear wing. The matte finish and gold trimming on it clearly differentiate this car between its “lesser” siblings. The aggressive styling and rear LED taillights are a real sight to behold. Although much more outlandish in design than other previous special M cars, the GTS is really something to look at. Getting the opportunity to drive it was another thing, though, something the “big people” at BMW confirmed we were going to do. Knowing you’ll have the opportunity to sample 1 of 23 cars coming to South Africa is a special yet daunting feeling. Even the car that was made available for us was already spoken for by a potential buyer.

What makes it a GTS

If you’re not a BMW fan boy like most car lovers, you may be interested in what separates an M4 GTS from a standard M4. First and foremost, there have been extreme weight saving techniques used to shed mass on the car. The car features carbon fibre seats,  a lightweight centre console and lighter doors with specialised loops instead of conventional door handles. The bonnet of the GTS has also been redesigned in carbon fibre as well as the front splitter. The result is a car track ready car that weighs 1510kg’s.

The M4 is also a two seater only as the rear seats have been removed and replaced by a role cage. Powering the GTS is a beefed up version of the 3.0-litre twin-turbocharged engine found in the standard M4. A figure of368kW and 600Nm is what the car produces through the standard M DCT gearbox. This power boost is mainly thanks to the water injection system which allows for cooler air combustion in the intake. Heat is a big factor for high-performance engines such as these, so a cooler air coming in increases performance, something the water injection system allows.

Aerodynamics also play a major role in these vehicles so the large front splitter as well as the “table top” rear wing increase down force and airflow. That means that at high speed, the M4 GTS is now more planted than ever, providing you with a more focused car on the track. Depending on your preferences, the suspension can be adjusted through the three-way M-Coilover system, giving you a customisable setup.

Sitting in this car alone is an experience because you’re in a fixed position. The racing bucket seats only moves backwards and forwards, much like the seats on the iconic M3 CSL which launched over a decade ago. Speaking of the M3 CSL, this was a car many enthusiasts had as wall poster. I’ve always wanted to drive one but haven’t been afforded the opportunity yet. Hopefully, my time spent in the M4 GTS will tide me over until then.

Getting behind the wheel:

Starting up a car you’re potentially only going to drive once in your lifetime is a memorable moment. Placing my hands on the Alcantara steering wheel, hearing the sound of the engine and accelerating for the first time made me immediately draw the conclusion that this was no ordinary M4 with no power. A 0-100 time of 3.8 seconds is what makes you realise that is car is a serious piece of kit. It’s raw, excitable, and slightly intimidating all at the same time. The steering system is direct and very accurate and the breaking system is immensely strong. Because of the weight saving measures, there is less sound deadening, which has created a race car feel to the car. The hisses of turbochargers, squealing of carbon ceramic brakes and pops of the exhaust create an ecstasy behind the wheel. BMW required us to be accompanied by their trusted “stig” who heads up the BMW driving academy, but he was in no way inhibiting during the experience.

After my session in the car, I longed for more time to really exploit its capabilities. It’s the kind of car you would want to build a relationship with. One can only imagine what the possibilities could be once a driver has learned what the limits of the M4 GTS are. That being said, I can confidently say that the time spent developing this car has not gone in vain. From the outside in this version has been redesigned for its purpose to find apex after apex. It’s striking to look at and visceral to drive. It’s the ultimate BMW M4. A price tag of R2.2 million is hefty but so is the privilege of owning a future classic. This will be the M3 CSL of the next generation. Only this time I can say I’ve driven it.

BMW X1: Breaking New Ground

It may seem like a strong headline, but it’s true. The current BMW X1 is the first X model to send its power to the front wheels. Shock and horror right? Wrong. It would be shock and horror if this was 2001 but it’s 2016 and things have changed. For one, BMW has come to the realisation that many people who buy modern day SUV’s aren’t going to be sliding around corners anytime soon. As a result, the most logical option when it comes to configuring these cars is to provide a setup that will give optimum space. That is why you’ll notice a vast difference in rear legroom when sitting in a new BMW X1 compared to the previous model. So BMW have decided to listen to its target market, a market that is moving from sedans into larger cars such as the X1. So more space is essential.

P90207418_highRes_the-new-bmw-x1-12-20

City slick:

Who is this car most suited for? The BMW X1 is a car that works well for young families. It completes everyday tasks with ease, allowing for ample space to fit kids, bags and groceries. The specific model we tested was the S Drive 20i Sport Line, the most balanced of the petrol engines in our opinions. Besides the frugal diesel option, there is the choice of a more powerful 2.0 litre turbocharged engine, an option we feel is unnecessary for this type of vehicle. The 141kW power plant has more than enough grunt to get you going in the city or on a long road trip. As previously mentioned, the X1 feels much more roomier inside as the older model felt more like a station wagon than an SUV. From an outward aesthetic point of view, the X1 shares similar lines to the X5, which is a great compliment considering the handsomeness of its older sibling.

As with most modern cars, the X1 is not lacking when it comes to technology. The standard BMW infotainment system is available, which equips with Bluetooth connectivity, USB functionality and auxiliary input as well. Connected Drive is another feature that may come in handy but will probably not be used as much as expected. Yes itis good to know that you can call into Germany and get directions to your destination, but we have smartphones for that don’t we? Besides with the exorbitant price of navigation systems on cars, the old iPhone or Galaxy is the more cost effective option.

Compromised handling?

The biggest fear for many BMW traditionalists is the fact that the dynamic attributes of the car change when you make it pull instead of push. Again, for the application of this car, having a FWD setup certainly does not make you feel like you’re not in a BMW. As a brand known for its dynamic handling and nimbleness, the X1 is still confidence inspiring at higher speeds. What may be most noticeable are the firm seats on the car, especially on a long distance excursion. Besides that, it ‘s hard to find anything terribly out of place in the car.

P90207424_highRes_the-new-bmw-x1-12-20

Should you buy one though?

Overall the X1 is a great offering in this segment. Unlike the previous version which wasn’t so pleasing to the eye, this current version offers charm and sophistication. The biggest problem that is faced by the X1 is the competition. This is a segment that has many players looking to convince buyers to sign up. One of the biggest talking points is price, and the X1 may fare badly in this category. With a starting price of R476 400, it’s not cheap considering that you’ll be driving a “bare bones” car if you don’t add all the right things. Our advice would be to keep it simple if you’re going to go the X1 route. Pick the right options that you will need but don’t go overboard because depending on the model you buy, you may be looking in the R700 000’s if you’re not careful.

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Advanced driving can help you during the holiday season.

Advanced driving: We attended the BMW Driving Experience to brush up on our skills.

The holiday season brings about many great things, family time, a relaxed atmosphere and of course for many, time spent behind the wheel. With many families utilising the motor vehicle as their primary use of transport to and from their holiday, this presents potential dangers on the road. The saying “there is power in numbers” can be altered to “there is danger in numbers” when it comes to cars.

As a result, being most alert, most sober and most rested can bring about positive results in your road trip experience. That is why participating in an advanced driving course is so important because alertness is essential when it comes to pre-empting a situation and taking the right steps to avoid it. With regards to soberness and being well rested, that is up to you as the driver. No amount of time spent on a track and a skid pan can increase common sense and respect for life when it comes to driving under the influence.

We recently attended the BMW Driving Experience, which is a comprehensive course meant to sharpen your skills as a driver and give you the practical knowledge of dealing with different scenarios. The course is a day long one which consists of track driving and skid pan activities which help a driver know the limits of a car. This is especially the case when it comes to the skid pan part because we all drive in different weather conditions. For instance, our cars can lose control in wet weather, and we need to know how to control the vehicle should that happen. The skid pan teaches you just that, how to deal with both understeer, over-steer and high-speed braking.

For a more visual representation of how the BMW Driving Experience is set up, take a look at the video below. We highly recommend any individual to attend such a course; the BMW course is educational, thought provoking and of course, fun.

 

The BMW X1: Redefining Space.

The new BMW X1 and its practical nature.

The BMW X1 is the car you buy if you want an SUV style vehicle, but don’t want the size or have the budget for an X3 or X5. The new X1 uses a similar configuration to the BMW 2 Series Active Tourer; it is front wheel drive. Something recently embraced by the BMW brand.

Firstly, it looks fantastic. It’s dynamic, sporty and remarkably spacious. BMW have been very clever with the new X1, the seating positions have been elevated, which means drivers and passengers have a better all round view, add this to larger window surfaces, and you get a spacious feel.

A great stand-out feature for the sporting person is the flat folding passenger seat, the backrest can be folded completely forward. The benefit of this is that any item up to 2.5 meters in length can be transported with ease. If you suddenly feel some beach vibes and want to take your longboard for a wave, no problem.  This fixes the issue of scraping and scratching the interior as you would usually try and force an object such as a surfboard at a slight angle into the vehicle. This also takes away the possibly of decapitation as the said object flies around the car at head height.

The rear seats control this method of using space well, with the pull of a small handle, the rear seating arrangement slides forwards and backwards. If you are heading on a road trip with friends, you can slide the seats back for extra legroom, but if you and a buddy are off to go diving on the coast, slide the seats forward and use the extra boot space for your gear. There is one downside to this; it enables your other half to have more room for shopping bags.

As always you have the classic BMW lines such as the Sport line, X line and M Sport line, with lots of optional extras such as the 8-inch navigation screen, Harmon Kardon loudspeaker system, reversing camera and so on. Engine choices range from S Drive 18i, S Drive 20i and the X Drive 20i and 25i.

Overall this is a smaller but spacious SUV, which is flexible and dynamic. It does not only suit families but young explorers who like to surf, ski and dive to name a few.

BMW M2: It’s revealed and it’s hardcore.

BMW’s M2 has been revealed: Here’s the breakdown.

Specs:

  • 3.0 Litre Twin Powered Turbo
  • 272 kW/ 465 Nm (500 Nm overboost)
  • 0-100 km/h: 4.4 Seconds (manual) 4.2 Seconds (7 Speed DCT)

Overview:

The new BMW M2 is the successor of the legendary 1M Coupe launched a few years ago by BMW. This car has one aim, the aim to please. The 1M lived up to that aim by offering 250 kW version of the N54 Twin Turbocharged 3.0 litre straight six engine. The new M2 uses the Twin Scroll N55 engine that has been enhanced by M Gmbh to produce more power and torque.

Looks:

The M2 has new design cues to make it stand out from its little brother the M235i. Large air intakes at the front, new front and rear bumpers, four exhaust pipes and M3/M4 wheels make the car have a stance that is more aggressive and intimidating than any other 2 Series. Inside the interior looks very similar to the M235i but with subtle changes that differentiate the car between the M235i and itself.

Verdict:

The M2 comes just in time to join the fight between the updated Mercedes A45, and Audi’s RS3. Even though the car is not a hatchback, the previous 1M was pitted against the RS3 and it was an interesting fight. The M2 brings an undeniable presence to the playing field, its RWD set up may make it the most fun out of the three. Let the games begin.

Forever young: 40 years of the BMW 3-Series.

Driving the face-lifted BMW 3-Series.

Turning forty is big deal for many, it’s an interesting year because generally at forty years of age, many look back to see if they have done all that they strived to do in their lives. This is the case with BMW’s 3-Series. To begin with, one has to give credit where credit is due. The BMW 3-Series has for a very long time being the favourite of many South Africans in terms of the compact luxury sedan segment. This has been the case locally and to a large extent around the world. Now that forty years have passed, BMW have revitalised the range through a face-lifted version of the car. This update does not only affect the outward appearance of the new BMW 3-Series but the engines have gone under the knife too, and the results are very good.

In our previous article about the new BMW 3-Series, we discussed all the changes, you can read that article here. Now we want to discuss how those changes translate to the driving experience and if the update is something worth riding home about. First of all, let’s discuss aesthetics.

How does it look?

The face-lifted BMW 3-Series dons bright LED taillights and optional full LED head lights that sharpen the lines of the car very well. The new lights have the same impact that a bold frame has on an artwork, it makes the subject stand out and forces you to look. The revised bumpers add to the aesthetic appeal of the car too, giving the car a “fresh face” so to speak. Interior changes on the car are more subtle, with small trim changes added, but the cabin still retains its premium look and feel. Since the main focus on the updated BMW 3-Series was not the outside but rather under the bonnet, the biggest question we should ask ourselves is how the new car feels behind the wheel.

How does it drive?

The engines have all been reworked in this model, more power, more torque and different badges. As we mentioned in the previous article, the 316i, 328i and 335i are now models of the past. Welcome the 318i, 330i and 340i to the stable as their replacements with the 320i still remaining. On the diesel side, the 330d and the 320d badges remain too. We had the pleasure of sampling the top of the range 340i and the more humble 320i model, both of which were interesting cars to drive.

The 340i was fitted with the Sports Package, with all the extras you can think of. The best way to explain the power-train of the 340i fitted with the 8 Speed ZF Automatic (which is standard), is by likening it to double thick cream. You know the kind you get on desserts at very fancy places? The engine is a pleasure to drive on the road, it has a distinct smoothness to it coupled with boat loads of torque seamlessly distributed by the 8 gears onto the road.

What about the 320i?

The 320i on the other hand has a completely different feel to it. Since it’s the smaller 4 cylinder 2.0 litre turbocharged engine, it has a more youthful persona to it. You can grab it by the scruff of its neck and enjoy every bit of power it gives to you, whereas the 340i commands much more respect especially on the public roads we drove the cars on. Dynamically the 340i and 320i are very planted on the road, even at high speed. The setting you have the car in contributes greatly to the responsiveness, damping and steering feel of the car.

The Comfort setting is the one for everyday use, whereas Sport and Sport Plus are for those more rushed days and of course Eco mode is dedicated to making the car as efficient as possible. A very impressive point found in the revised version is how the damping on the car is never back-breaking, even in the “harshest” Sport mode. The steering feel of most modern cars is a topic that has led to many debates in the motoring world. Electric power steering has come a long way since it was first introduced to many cars a few years ago.

In the case of the BMW 3-Series, the weight of the steering in the car changes depending on the mode you’re in. More weight is added as well as more steering feel in the sportier modes, whereas the converse happens in the Eco and Comfort modes. Very enthusiastic drivers may long for the “good old days” of hydraulic steering, since that steering system provided more feedback to the driver. The same goes with manual gearboxes giving one the sense of being “one with the car”, but the reality is that future is here and the future likes automatics and electric power steering. That being said, what we have today still provides excitement on the road and comfort that we could have never experienced in the past.

The BMW 3-Series has matured with those that fell in love with it 40 years ago. The boy-racer mentality has been left behind for its less mature siblings, such as the 1 and 2 Series. This is a good thing considering that a new 3-Series will not cost you chump change, with a starting price R409 000 for the baby 318i and R656 000 for the 340i, any 3-Series client will expect a large measure of luxury and comfort. This is exactly what BMW gives those looking to buy in this segment. The majority of BMW 3-Series buyers are not going to drive these cars to their absolute limit on the road and BMW knows that. That is why the car’s set-up, that of being more comfort orientated makes perfect sense for the range considering the clientèle that will buy it.

A good 40 years indeed.

If the BMW 3-Series was a human being, it would surely have a smile on its face. It has accomplished a lot in forty years, selling over 14 million units since its humble days before features such as ConnectedDrive and Reverse camera were even thought of. The car has had good old days but it has better new days ahead of it too. The BMW 3-Series is the reason why we have such good cars from other brands in that segment, it has pioneered the way for many cars and even though the playing fields have levelled out in many ways, the badge is still part of the cream of the crop.