Does The New BMW 3 Series Prove That Downsizing Has Gone Too Far?


BMW's most popular car is drastically changing, but will it remain a strong seller?

It wasn’t too long ago that the BMW 3 Series was the entry-level luxury sedan of choice for any and all buyers. It’s not like the Mercedes C-Class or Audi A4 couldn’t hold their own against the Bavarian, it’s just that the BMW hit the sweet spot in terms of price, looks, included amenities, and above all, driving sensation. Even BMW's ads championed its sheer driving pleasure. One element of the car that added driver-engaging satisfaction was the buttery smooth inline-six engines that populated every car in the lineup.

With proper balance and linear acceleration, they could calm an anxiety-riddled driver at idle or at full tilt. And then, as it always does, the hand of change swept through and took the driving pleasure away. In its newest iteration, the F30 3 Series started having its facade of being the “ultimate driving machine” chipped away. Electronic steering took away the mechanical connection that supplied the telepathic steering feel and increased safety regulations bloated the front end and added weight. Then, travesty struck when the signature inline six was struck down in favor of a turbocharged four-cylinder. Now that the F30 is on its way out, the G20 is being planned.

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Much to Donald Trump’s pleasure, it will be built in Mexico and will have a range unlike any before in the 3 Series lineup. Resting at the bottom will be the 318i, which will get a 1.5-liter 3-cylinder engine and will thankfully not make it to North America. At the other end of the spectrum, the B58 engine, the same turbocharged inline-six seen in the M240i, will live under the M340i and make the bimmer the first M Sport 3 Series available in the US. Sadly, the M Sport 3 Series will be the last 3 Series (excluding the M3) that has a six cylinder doing the grunt work. With options and the list of standard luxury features shrinking, the end of BMW's six cylinder superiority may be near.

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