Is BMW’s new 3-Series sedan the new compact exec sedan benchmark?

Whenever BMW launches an all-new 3-Series it’s a big deal because throughout its many generations (the latest one is the seventh generation) it has often been called the class benchmark. People not only praised it for its sharp handling and tight body control, but also for its excellent build and the feeling of it being well engineered. Now there’s a new 3-Series, known as the G20 generation, and we tried it out to see if it holds its position on the throne

TopSpeed’s 2019 BMW 3 Series Video Review

Many motoring journalists have criticized the 2019 BMW 3-Series G20 for looking a bit dull from the outside, but our white tester looked really good from all angles, as you can see from this selection of photos. The interior is a big improvement over the car it replaces, and while it’s still recognizably a BMW, it feels 10 years younger than the outgoing F30 model - it’s a big improvement and, with the optional 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster fitted to our tester, the ambiance is lifted even further.

2019 BMW 3-Series G20 video review
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Powering the car is an all-new 2.0-liter diesel that for the first time has a twin-turbo setup in 320d trim.

Even the lower-powered 318d has a similar setup, although it’s nowhere near as relentless when it comes to acceleration. Our xDrive all-wheel drive-equipped tester has 190 horsepower and sprints to 100 km/h or 62 mph in under 7 seconds (BMW claims 6.9, but we actually achieved 6.8 seconds). However, in spite of its brisk performance, it still returns very decent fuel mileage - we averaged 7 l/100km or 33.6 U.S. mpg.

BMW 3 Series specifications
BMW 330i BMW 320d BMW 318d
Engine 2.0-liter four-cylinder 2.0-liter four-cylinder 2.0-liter four-cylinder
Engine power 255 HP @ 5,000 – 6,500 RPM 190 HP @ 4,000 RPM 150 HP @ 4,000 RPM
Engine torque 295 LB-FT @ 1,550 – 4,400 RPM 295 LB-FT @ 1,750 – 2,500 RPM 236 LB-FT @ 1,500-3,000 RPM
Transmission type 8-speed automatic Six-speed manual Six-speed manual
0-60 mph 5.6 seconds 6.8 seconds 8.5 seconds
Top speed (optional w/perf. tires) 130 (155) mph 149 mph 149 mph

We naturally had to show the new 3-Series some corners and that’s exactly what we did.

The car rewards the keen driver with poise and precision and the occasional well-controlled oversteer moment.

There is little to criticize about the car’s balance between handling and comfort (it is more biased towards the former, but it’s also the most comfortable 3-Series ever,) and the only area where it was less than great was in terms of steering feel - the helm is precise enough, but you have no idea what the front wheels are doing and the electric assistance feels inconsistent.

2019 BMW 3-Series G20 video review
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But, nevertheless, as a package, it is back to shooting for the top of the class, although we’ll reserve final judgment until we’ve actually driven its main rivals, most of which have been recently refreshed. The all-new 3-Series might still have an edge over its facelifted competitors.

Further reading

2019 BMW 3 Series
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Read our full review on the 2019 BMW 3 Series.

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