It’s now 40 years since the launch of the 3 Series name tag on the small-medium BMW car. Early this month [SUB October] the 10 millionth 3 Series was sold. Obviously the 3 Series is extremely important to the company in the never ending sales war, not only with its German rivals, but also with Jaguar and Lexus.

Midway through the life of the gen-six model changes have been made to the 3 Series in Australia. These not only include styling alterations and major mechanical improvements, but also offer significantly better value in the way of added standard equipment.

Every model now has a rear view camera, BMW’s Surround View with Top View and Side View, head-up display, lane change warning, BMW Driving Assistant and real time traffic Information.

Styling changes front and rear are aimed at giving the 3 Series a wider look thanks to new shaping in the lower bumper and air intake areas. Note that the headlights are now full LED, in a fascinating move the headlights are now joined to the kidney grilles by an LED light bar. We haven’t had the chance to see one in the dark yet, but its sounds like the visual effect will be really different.

Inside there are changes to the trim material and styling. Chrome plating is use to frame the details in quite a few areas, the air vents and power seat controls.


As before the BMW 3 Series is sold with sedan and Touring wagon bodies. There are no longer 3 Series coupes and convertibles as these bodies have been transferred to the recently introduced 4 Series range.

BMW ConnectedDrive Services is standard in all 3 Series. A SIM card built into the car gives access to a range of services without the need for a smartphone.

The Concierge Service will find points of interest for you such as restaurants and hotels and can even make a reservation. The BMW operative then sends information straight to the vehicle as a navigation destination, together with all the contact data.

Intelligent Emergency Call jumps into action if it senses airbags have been triggered in a crash. The system uses the SIM card to automatically transmit the severity of the accident, the potential risk of injury and the vehicle’s location to the BMW ConnectedDrive Call Centre. This information is then used to arrange emergency response. The BMW Call Centre stays in contact with the occupants if desired.


The entry level BMW 318i, which has been missing from Australia for some time is returning. With a price tag of $54,900 plus on-roads it is aimed at conquest sales, that is pulling in buyers who have previously selected a vehicle from other marques.

The new BMW 3 Series 340i supersedes the 335i. Though the straight-six engine retains the 335i’s 3.0-litre capacity and twin-scroll turbo setup it is an all-new design and produces maximum power of 240 kW between 5500 and 6500 rpm, and develops peak torque at of 450 Nm from just 1380 to 5000 rpm.

Powering through an eight-speed sports automatic transmission the 340i gets from rest to 100 km/h in just 5.1 seconds. Our initial test drive of this shows engine and transmissions smoothness that’s even better than in the 335i and minimal turbo lag and excellent throttle response once that lag has passed. Then the huge torque spreads gives the feeling of relentless grunt that’s a real joy to control.

Interestingly, the BMW 318i uses a 1.5-litre three-cylinder engine, developed in conjunction with the Mini engineers (BMW controls the British marque these days).

Unlike the Mini, which uses a transverse ‘east-west’ engine and drives through the front wheels, the 318i engine sits in line with the body and drives the rear wheels. The 318i doesn’t go on sale in Australia until mid November and we haven’t yet had a chance to sample the new three-cylinder BMW on the road. With 100 kW, and 220 Nm from 1250 to 4300 revs it have provide decent performance.

Turbo-diesel engines continue to be offered in the revised BMW 3 Series. Note that BMW has made a public statement that it, “… does not manipulate or rig any emissions tests. We observe the legal requirements in each country and fulfill all local testing requirements. In other words, our exhaust treatment systems are active whether rolling on the test bench or driving on the road.”

Halfway through its model life the changes to the BMW 3 Series continues to impress and seems sure to sneak some customers away from other prestige brands.

The complete 2015 BMW 3 Series range is:
318i sedan: $54,900 (automatic)
320i sedan: $61,900 (automatic)
320d sedan: $63,800 (automatic)
320i Touring wagon: $65,300 (automatic)
330i sedan: $69,900 (automatic)
330i Touring wagon: $73,300 (automatic)
340i sedan: $89,900 (automatic)
Note: These prices do not include dealer or government charges. Contact your local BMW dealer for drive-away prices.

About Ewan Kennedy

Ewan Kennedy, a long-time car enthusiast, was Technical Research Librarian with the NRMA from 1970 until 1985. He worked part-time as a freelance motoring journalist from 1977 until 1985, when he took a full-time position as Technical Editor with Modern Motor magazine. Late in 1987 he left to set up a full-time business as a freelance motoring journalist. Ewan is an associate member of the Society of Automotive Engineers - International. An economy driving expert, he set the Guinness World Record for the greatest distance travelled in a standard road vehicle on a single fuel fill. He lists his hobbies as stage acting, travelling, boating and reading.
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