Not exactly longer, but bigger everywhere that matters

Last week, BMW removed the silk covers from the all-new BMW 3 Series G20. It is possibly the most important car revealed at the Paris Motor Show and definitely the most important car BMW revealed in the last three or so years. Yet, even on the photographs, one could definitely see that the 3 Series grew quite a bit. BMW reported a 2.9 inches increase in length. When I was working on that BMW 3 Series piece I was wondering just how big the new 3 Series really is.

The answer surprised me. The new BMW 3 Series G20 is bigger than the BMW 5 Series E39. Ok, not exactly longer, but I’ll get to that in a jiffy. Considering the E39 is basically my favorite car, I was almost annoyed, but then reason took over. I asked myself, how did we become so strangely obsessed with size and getting things bigger?

Exterior

Believe It or Not, the 2019 BMW 3 Series is Bigger than an E39 5 Series
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Compared with the E39, the latest BMW 3 Series is actually 2.6 inches shorter.

That’s 185.4 inches for the 3 Series G20 as opposed to 188 inches for the 5 Series E39. Now, bear in mind that length isn’t the most important of dimensions on a car (if we can actually hierarchically list them). I can, and in my opinion, it is the wheelbase. Between the wheels, the 5 Series of old stopped at 111.4 inches. The new 3 Series wheelbase, on the other hand, measures 112.2 inches. Yup, longer.

It is the same with the width. The G20 is exactly one inch wider compared with the E39 and sits 0.3 inches higher. So, ladies and gents, considering all of this, the 3 Series definitely is bigger compared with the 5 Series in all directions where it actually matters. It is a big car.

It is considerably different from the visual standpoint as well. The 3 Series looks more aggressive, has a bit cleaner, but far more muscular lines and sports a grill so massive it could eat the E39.

Interior

Believe It or Not, the 2019 BMW 3 Series is Bigger than an E39 5 Series
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The new 3 Series is full of tech, sports modern BMW interior design language and is loaded with impressive gear. But what about the size?

Looking all the way back to the 20th century and the time when the E39 came to be, the room in the boot was 460 liters. Legroom was at 41.7" front, 34.2" rear. Generally, the E39 was considered to be a comfortable, neat and luxurious car.

Get this- the 3 Series G20 is more comfortable than the E39 5 Series. The boot is increased to 480 liters, while the rear seat legroom measures 35.5 inches. I did not find the data for the front legroom, but considering that the old generation car had 42 inches of legroom at the front, I can only imagine that the G20 3 Series got even more.

Performance

Believe It or Not, the 2019 BMW 3 Series is Bigger than an E39 5 Series
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With 20 years of development, BMW engineers made some significant leaps in performance and sophistication of their cars.

That is why the performance comparison between the 5 Series E39 and the 3 Series G20 is a bit mad. Even the 330i powered by a 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine will propel the new 3 Series to 62 mph in just over 5 seconds. No BMW 5 Series E39 with a straight six could do that. Now, the new M3 is still way off, but the M40i we expect next year will be fast enough with its 382 horsepower to take on the M5 E39. I cannot even imagine how fast the M3 will be.

Final Thoughts

Believe It or Not, the 2019 BMW 3 Series is Bigger than an E39 5 Series
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The BMW 3 Series grew by so much that it eclipsed what was considered to be the essence of BMW - the E39 5 Series.

Regardless, the market of today requires it to be big because all of those who will actually spend money on a car like this want it all - the size, the roominess, the performance, the looks, the tech. BMW conformed to those expectations, although it consequently skimped on the pillars of the 3 Series allure, namely its size, and possibly, its nimbleness. Getting as big as the yesterdays 5 Series is a big deal. However, I am quite sure that with this increase, BMW is actually making room for the 2 Series Gran Coupe. Now, that one will be as the 3 Series once was - a compact executive saloon, now reimagined with a coupe inspired roof. Honestly, I am not even disappointed with the 3 series growing as much as it did. Obviously, it had to.

Further Reading

Believe It or Not, the 2019 BMW 3 Series is Bigger than an E39 5 Series
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Read our speculative review on the 2019 BMW 3 Series.

2017 BMW 5 Series High Resolution Exterior
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Read our full review on the 2017 BMW 5 Series.

1998 - 2003 BMW 5-Series (E39)
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Read our full review on the 1998 - 2003 BMW 5 Series (E39).

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