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2019 BMW 3 Series: Paris Auto Show


author photo by Colin Ryan October 2018

What Is It?

The 2019 BMW 3 Series debuts in Paris as the seventh generation of Munich's near-legendary premium compact sporty sedan. Surprises are few, but that's not necessarily a criticism.

Studying the styling, there's only so much a designer can do with a double-kidney grille and the famous "Hofmeister kink" at the back edge of the rear-side windows. Nevertheless, the new 3 Series is longer, lower and wider than the 2018 version, giving it a purposeful stance, while overall aerodynamics have also been improved. A few subtle creases on the hood and along the sides bring a little character.

The real updates, however, are less readily apparent. The body is constructed to be more rigid yet lighter than before, while the increased use of aluminum components helps BMW achieve a perfect 50/50 front-to-rear weight distribution. The 2019 3 Series also uses a brand-new design of shock absorber in the quest to provide the ideal mix of pliancy and precision.

The first variants to go on sale in the United States are the 330i and M340i, both available with all-wheel drive; rear-wheel drive remains the hallmark default setup. The 2019 330i uses a turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine producing 255 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque. These are increases over the 2018 counterpart of 7 and 37, respectively.

The 2019 M340i has a turbocharged 3.0-liter inline-six engine developing 382 hp and 369 lb-ft of torque. The 2018 340i has 320 hp and 330 lb-ft. Both engines have been updated with things like lighter crankshafts and lower friction levels.

So far, BMW has only given information on the 330i's transmission, which is an 8-speed automatic (tuned for faster shifts). It's not unreasonable to assume the M340i would use the same setup, but we'll have to wait and see. BMW also offered a 6-speed manual transmission with the 2018 340i, but again, no word on that regarding the new model.

Standard equipment in the 330i includes LED headlights/taillights, 18-inch alloy wheels, 10-speaker/205-watt audio system and forward-collision mitigation with pedestrian detection. There's more rear legroom and a larger trunk than the outgoing model. Options include self-parking, traffic-jam assistance, head-up display and using a smartphone as a key. BMW also offers a voice-activated onboard digital assistant that learns a driver's regular routes and favorite settings, plus an expanded range of optional gesture controls.

How Much?

The 2019 BMW 3 Series starts at $41,195 for the 330i. Add $2,000 for AWD (xDrive). Prices for the M340i variants will be announced at a later date.

When Can You Get It?

The 330i models go on sale March 2019. BMW says the M340i versions will be in dealerships "spring 2019." A plug-in hybrid 330e is expected for 2020. And there will be a high-performance M3 variant at some point.

Add It to Your Shopping List Because…

Assuming you're not going to buy a crossover (good for you) and want an exceptionally good premium compact sedan with plenty of tech and a sporting edge, the new 3 Series absolutely must be test-driven.

Other Cars to Consider

2019 Audi A4 -- A strong and stylish contender with up-to-the-minute driving technologies available.

2019 Jaguar XE -- Wonderful ride/handling abilities, great supercharged V6 engine, somewhat underwhelming cabin materials.

2019 Mercedes-Benz C-Class -- Sophisticated, smart, comfortable and offers plenty of tech.

Used BMW 5 Series -- The current generation of the excellent 5 Series is just becoming old enough for some models to be offered in BMW's certified pre-owned (CPO) program.

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2019 BMW 3 Series: Paris Auto Show - Autotrader