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BMW Australia has lifted the lid on its refreshed 3 Series ahead of its November arrival, with upgrades highlighted by the more sophisticated iDrive6 multimedia system, new cabin trim and the addition of Sunset Orange metallic to the paint palette.

Most attention will be around the iDrive6 that has a screen that can be customised to suit the operator. It has already been seen in the updated 4 Series range and integrates with either a 6.5-inch screen with BMW’s Navigation System Business (318i, 320i and 320d) or the 8.8-inch touchscreen on versions fitted with Navigation System Professional.

The multimedia system has intuitive app-style live ‘tile’ displays accessed by voice recognition, the iDrive controller or – for versions with Navigation Professional – by touching the screen.

BMW has also fitted its latest Speed Limit Info system as standard and expanded the option list to include a multi-function instrument display that shows the selected driving mode, such as Eco Pro, Comfort, Sport or Sport+.

The new range adds additional technologies into the optional Innovations Package that can be tailored to suit the model version.

For example, the BMW 318i Innovations Package adds the Navigation System Professional, parking assistant, extended smartphone connectivity and the new multi-function instrument display.

In the 320i, 320d and 330i sedan or Touring, it includes the 318i’s features and adds active cruise control and the stop-and-go function.

But it all comes at a cost. The 3 Series sedan and Touring variants increase in price by between $800 and $1300, with the opener being the 318i sedan at $57,300 plus on-road costs, up $800.

The flagship 340i sedan has been hit with the biggest price increase, jumping $1300 to $91,200 plus costs.

“Since its 1975 debut, the BMW 3 Series has stood for premium sporting dynamics in its segment,” said BMW Group Australia CEO, Marc Werner.
“Since its 1975 debut, the BMW 3 Series has stood for premium sporting dynamics in its segment,” said BMW Group Australia CEO, Marc Werner.

No changes have been made to the exterior or powertrain of the updated 3 Series, though there is a new 18-inch alloy wheel design that is now a no-cost option in black paint as part of the Sport Line package for the 318i, 320i, 320d and 330e. Buyers opting for the M package have 19-inch bi-colour alloys.

Cabin changes include new double-stitching over the instrument panel to lift the premium look of the car, while Cognac Dakota leather upholstery is now also an option across the board. The dark Aluminium Carbon trim with Pearl Chrome finishers is exclusive to the M Sport package.

The only change to the drivetrain has been from Australian customer feedback, moving the 340i’s variable sports steering from a standard inclusion to the options list. The 340i will now have the fixed-ratio power steering, bringing it into line with every other 3 Series.

Prospective 340i buyers can choose between the Luxury Line and M Sport packages at no extra cost, which are both otherwise available as a cost option for all other variants (excluding Luxury Line on 330i and 330e).

The 3 Series range starts with the 318i with a three-cylinder 1.5-litre turbo-petrol engine rated at 100kW/220Nm. The 320i and 330i use the same basic 2.0-litre turbo-petrol engine but tuned to 135kW/270Nm and 185kW/350Nm respectively.

There is a 140kW/400Nm 2.0-litre diesel engine available in the 320d sedan and Touring and a plug-in hybrid in the 330e with 185kW/420Nm.

The sole six-cylinder in the 3 Series sedan and wagon line-up is the 3.0-litre in the 340i rated at 240kW/450Nm.

Production of the refreshed 3 Series started this month in South Africa (sedans) and Germany (Touring) with Australian deliveries expected in November.

The new upgraded model comes at the right time for BMW Australia as sales of the 3 Series have dropped off significantly this year.

It has sold 1411 3 Series’ in the first six months of this year, a 44.9 per cent slump compared with the same time in 2016.

Mercedes-Benz has sold 4442 units of its C-Class in the six months to June, up 35.8 per cent on 2016, while Audi A4 sales are down 9.3 per cent to 1192.

Do the changes to the BMW 3 Series make the ageing model more appealing? Tell us what you think in the comments below.

Justin Hilliard
Head of Editorial
Justin’s dad chose to miss his birth because he wanted to watch Peter Brock hopefully win Bathurst, so it figures Justin grew up to have a car obsession, too – and don’t worry, his dad did turn up in time after some stern words from his mum. That said, despite loving cars and writing, Justin chose to pursue career paths that didn’t lend themselves to automotive journalism, before eventually ending up working as a computer technician. But that car itch just couldn’t be scratched by his chipped Volkswagen Golf R (Mk7), so he finally decided to give into the inevitable and study a Master of Journalism at the same time. And even with the long odds, Justin was lucky enough to land a full-time job as a motoring journalist soon after graduating and the rest, as they say, is history. These days, Justin happily finds himself working at CarsGuide during the biggest period of change yet for the automotive industry, which is perhaps the most exciting part of all. In case you’re wondering, Justin begrudgingly sold the Golf R (sans chip) and still has plans to buy his dream car, an E46 BMW M3 coupe (manual, of course), but he is in desperate need of a second car space – or maybe a third.
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