2019 BMW 3 Series: Luxury Car, Sports Sedan Or Both?

  • The complete redesign of the 2019 BMW 3 Series looks promising.
  • New engine technologies and suspension designs increase overall performance. 
  • The 2019 3 Series faces stiff competition from Tesla, Mercedes-Benz, and Genesis. 
  • The BMW 3 Series began its life in the United States in 1976 as a successor to the 2002.

As with all things in life, change is inevitable. It wasn’t too long ago that a certain Elon Musk had the idea of mass-producing an electric car. It was nothing short of ludicrous, but look how it turned out, for better or worse. The Tesla Model 3 is now the best-selling luxury car in the USA as of August.

The Model 3 also outsold the BMW 3 Series and Mercedes C-Class in the entry-level luxury segment.

BMW disputes this . . . in general.

“The BMW 3 Series has ranked as the world’s biggest-selling premium car, led the way for high-performance powertrain and chassis technology and earned a reputation as a pioneer of technological innovations in its segment,” reads a statement from the automaker.

Luxury Car or Sports Sedan?

Thus the reason why I’m shocked at what people think about the 2019 BMW 3 Series. The car made its debut at the 2018 Paris Motor Show. Since then, all we’ve been hearing from critics are expletive adjectives coupled with nuisance rants. I wonder what the fuss is all about.

The 2019 BMW 3 Series is bigger than the outgoing model. It represents the seventh generation of a beloved sports sedan – but that’s what the critics are pointing out. They say the new 3-Series is a proper luxury car now instead of a laser-focused sports sedan.

But is there something wrong with that?

By The Numbers

Sure, the new 3 Series is 0.5-inches taller, 2.9-inches longer, and 0.6-inches wider than the previous model. In fact, the front and rear track are wider by 43 and 21 millimeters respectively. The result is a more aggressive stance.

But despite the added bulk, the new 3 Series is 121 lbs. lighter than the outgoing model, thanks to the extensive use of aluminum in the engine sub-frame, front fenders, and hood. BMW claims overall rigidity is up 25 percent with as much as 50 percent improvements in certain areas of the body. It seems BMW hasn’t forgotten how to make a sharp-handling sedan, right?

BMW is so obsessed with improving the driving dynamics, even the center of gravity is 10 millimeters lower than the old model. In order for the car to slice the wind, BMW designers utilized every trick in the book to reduce the drag coefficient to 0.26 Cd.

So yeah, the 2019 BMW 3 Series is bigger, taller, and wider than the old car. But it also happens to be stiffer, lighter, and more slippery. Nobody complained when Honda and Toyota supersized the Civic and Corolla. Based on the above specs, the new BMW 3 Series is probably the return of the ultimate driving machine.

BMW’s intelligent all-wheel drive system includes an electronically-controlled multi-plate clutch in the transfer case, which links up with the Dynamic Stability Control system. From here, power output is adjusted – within a fraction of a second – according to the driving conditions. BMW says the technology reduces oversteer and understeer, while providing an increase in traction and stability. Photo: BMW of North America, LLC.

They say the new 3-Series is now a proper luxury car instead of being a laser-focused sports sedan. But is there something wrong with that? Click To Tweet

Turbocharged Power

Of course, what ultimate driving machine is complete without a stonking motor? The base 330i is motivated by a new 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-four with 255 horsepower and 295 lb-ft. of torque. This engine, mated to an eight-speed automatic, features a twin-scroll turbocharger, direct injection, and variable camshaft timing.

The 2019 BMW 330i can sprint to 60 mph in 5.6 seconds. The 330i xDrive with all-wheel drive can perform the same feat in 5.3 seconds.

But if the idea of a four-cylinder engine is a tough pill to swallow, then consider the M340i instead. It comes with a turbocharged straight-six motor with 382 horsepower and 369 lb-ft. of torque. The sprint to 60 mph takes just 4.2-seconds, courtesy of the eight-speed auto and standard rear-wheel drive. All-wheel drive is available; BMW’s M Sport rear differential is standard.

If you were pining for a manual in the 2019 BMW 3 Series, you’re out of luck. Only diesels with rear-wheel drive receive a manual gearbox.

Aluminum swivel bearings and control arms for the front axle, plus aluminum wheel mounts and new wheel bearings for the rear axle reduce unsprung mass. At the rear axle, more rigid control arms and axle sub-frames, along with thrust arms for the body mounting, ensure “very precise wheel location,” according to BMW. As a result, steering dynamics improve. Photo: BMW of North America, LLC.

Begging To Be Driven

The 2019 BMW 3 Series is the antithesis of what critics were hoping for. With a classy interior and gorgeous exterior (with available adaptive LED headlights even), the new car has clearly veered more towards the luxury end of the spectrum. But by reducing weight and increasing the stiffness of the chassis, along with new suspension and steering tech, there’s no doubt the 2019 BMW 3 Series is begging to be driven. Hard. Presumably on twisty and/or mountainous roads.

The issue starts with the packaging. Sure, the new 3 Series is longer, taller, and wider, although it’s not as roomy as before. And I can’t wrap my head around it. There is 1.5-inches less headroom in the front while leg and shoulder room is virtually unchanged. However, there is now more cargo room in the new 3 Series, which grew from 13 to 17 cubic-feet.

I can live with that.

2019 BMW 3 Series. Photo: BMW of North America, LLC.

There’s no doubt the 2019 BMW 3 Series is begging to be driven. Hard. Presumably on twisty and/or mountainous roads. Click To Tweet

But There’s A Problem . . .

Two, in fact: the Genesis G70 and Tesla Model 3. I have no idea how the Genesis G70 feels so adoringly good on the open road despite the sub-$35k base price. I won’t go as far as saying the Genesis G70 is the BMW 3 Series for a new generation, but it does feel like it.

And then the Tesla Model 3. The Model 3 is bigger in all aspects than the sixth-gen 3 Series, which BMW addressed by increasing the dimensions on this new, seventh-gen 3 Series. But the Tesla Model 3 starts at only $35,000 (before tax credits) in standard range trim, while the 2019 BMW 3 Series starts around $41,200.

Also, the Tesla is faster and has a more alluring design in my eyes.

But if BMW is in your blood, then expect the 330i in March. The M340i will follow shortly after, with a starting MSRP of $43,245.

Alvin Reyes is the Associate Editor of Automoblog. He studied civil aviation, aeronautics, and accountancy in his younger years and is still very much smitten to his former Lancer GSR and Galant SS. He also likes fried chicken, music, and herbal medicine. 

2019 BMW 3 Series Gallery

Photos & Source: BMW of North America, LLC.

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