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Paris show: BMW 3 Series to the core

BMW differentiates ‘core’ 3 Series from its 5 Series sibling

BMW logo9 Oct 2018

By TIM NICHOLSON in PARIS

BMW says the 3 Series is still the “core” of its brand, despite the slowing of the sedan segment in many markets as SUV sales continue to rise.
 
The Bavarian car-maker ripped the covers from its seventh-generation 3 Series sedan at last week’s Paris motor show, with the all-new model expected to hit Australian shores in March or April next year.
 
While Australian sales of the 3 Series have slipped in recent years, largely due to the consumer shift to SUVs, globally it is still the brand’s best seller, making up one in five overall BMW sales and clocking up five million units since its 1975 launch.
 
BMW Group 3 Series product manager Stephan Horn told Australian journalists that regardless of the changes in the market, the mid-sizer would remain one of its most important models.
 
“SUVs are very important,” he said at the Paris motor show. “But the heritage where we came from … without the 3 Series, BMW wouldn’t be what it is now. So it is really our core, it is our foundation, it is our pillar which we build on. 
 
“And all of the rest of the portfolio … in each segment the BMW has to be the most dynamic one looking at its competitive environment. Where BMW come from is our 3 Series. 
 
“But it was the best-selling car in the past … And it also will be in the future.”
 
Mr Horn added that the designers were charged with ensuring that the new 3 Series had a different look to its larger 5 Series sibling.
 
“This has its own place and there was some criticism in the past generation, for example, that the 3 and 5 Series looked quite similar. So we said this car has to look very different from every angle compared to its predecessor and compared to 5 Series.”
 
He said that while the new 3 Series is larger than the model it replaces, designers had to ensure that it still looked compact.
 
“We are the ultimate sports sedan. We are not a 5 Series. Having a sports sedan you don’t want a long, big car.”
 
Mr Horn said the key changes to the 3 Series included improving driveability and to add in capabilities relating to connectivity and light autonomy.
 
“The competitors, they also try to get closer. So this generation we definitely wanted to make sure we are again and as always the ultimate driving machine and be on top.
 
“The second thing is to futureproof. Making sure that in the ever-changing industry, if the car runs for seven years, you have to make sure there is a lot of upgradability in the car … autonomous driving, electrification, connectivity. All of these things we are playing with.”
 
Mr Horn also strongly hinted that the 275kW/500Nm M340i xDrive sedan – the first M Performance version of the 3 Series – would be offered in Touring (wagon) guise, giving BMW a rival for the warmed-up Audi S4 Avant and Mercedes-AMG C43 Estate.
 
“Why not?” he said.
 
“We don’t talk about it today but in a couple of months we talk about Touring but it is a possibility.”

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