The next BMW 3 Series, codenamed G20, was recently spotted again by spy photographers during a testing run in Munich, Germany. The upcoming generation has actually been seen quite a few times during past test drives, and though the vehicle is heavily camouflaged, it looks like the body is pretty much production-ready. This is good news for those who have been anticipating the new car's release since it was announced.
Those who saw the car suspect that what was being tested was the vehicle’s M Sport version due to the easily obvious trunk spoiler lip, larger brakes, rear diffuser, and lowered suspension inherent in the trim. The wider front bumper features hidden behind black cutouts was also another dead giveaway.
Even with the camouflage, it’s apparent that the German carmaker is going for a more sophisticated look this time around. Rounded headlights that flow into the brand’s signature pair of kidney grilles mirror that of the larger 7 Series saloon. The back sports a beefier rear bumper, and while the taillights are partially covered, based on what’s visible, they’re a better complement to the headlights this time around. The next-gen 3 Series also appears to have a wider stance and a longer wheelbase that the current model. Despite the larger size, the new model will be much lighter than its predecessor as the vehicle will make use of carbon-fiber parts.
Though the 3 Series is heavily inspired by the 7 Series, don’t expect it to come with all the high end features of its luxury saloon sibling. Although some may trickle down, it’s not likely that the new 3 Series will have the 7’s innovative gesture control and remote parking feature.
BMW 3 Series design and specs
Body-wise, there is a roundness to the rear that’s not typical of BMW, but it could all be because of padding designed to hide the model’s actual shape. Regardless, the 3 Series looks as planted as ever, and it needs to be that way, considering the vehicle is going to be wider and longer than the generation it intends to replace.
As the biggest selling model in the BMW range, the 3 Series is set to have a wide range of engine choices including three, four, and six cylinder gasoline and diesel engines. Each different power plant version is designed to deliver more power and torque than its predecessor, while staying very fuel efficient. A hybrid option is said to be part of the choices, while rumor has it that an all-electric model is currently in the works. Should this little tidbit turn out to be true, it will surely add fuel to the fire regarding talk that BMW wishes to take on the Tesla Model 3.
The new 3 series will use a version of the Cluster Architecture (CLAR)—which is BMW’s term for its new rear-wheel drive platform. Making its debut with the latest 7 Series, CLAR is a platform that combines carbon fiber, aluminum and high-strength steel to make the overall weight of the vehicle lighter. The recent recipient of this technology is the upcoming 5 Series, which is said to be 80 kilograms lighter than the outgoing model. The 3-Series is said to take CLAR technology a step further, potentially helping the vehicle shed up to 100 kilograms in weight and become the lightest car in its class.
Analyzers of the car are guessing that the application of CLAR will likely center on bodyshell pillars, transmission tunnel, and door frames. Coupled with the downsized engines, future owners of the 3 Series maybe looking at a car with a vastly improved handling agility compared to its previous version.
Some of the spy photographers managed to snap a few pictures of the vehicle interior. According to witnesses, nothing much has changed between the current 3 series and the upcoming one—the center console is practically the same, with the exception of larger HVAC controls and fewer buttons.
Given BMW’s penchant for giving their models seven years in the market, the next-gen 3 Series is expected to go on sale in 2018, since the model’s last update was way back in 2011. Although no launch date has been announced as of yet, industry experts are deducing that it will come during the second half of the year. Even if BMW decides to launch it in the Frankfurt Motor Show in September 2017, the model will still have plenty of time to reach global dealers before the year ends.