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All-new BMW 3-series spotted testing – 2018’s crucial new compact exec

Jordan Katsianis
20 Mar 2018

The all-new BMW 3-series, rumoured to be codenamed G20, has been spied ahead of its release later this year.

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The current ‘F30’ BMW 3-series is due for replacement later this year, so it’s not surprising to see the next-generation version of the compact executive saloon undergoing testing in preparation.

New from the ground up, the G20 3-series will need to take on the polished Audi A4 and recently renewed Mercedes-Benz C-class in order to maintain its position at the top of its class. The development car shown in these images is a late-cycle prototype, giving us a clue to its near production-ready status.

> Click here for spy shots of the upcoming BMW M3

From what we can see under the body-concealing wrap, the new 3-series should ape the larger 5-series, with similar wide kidney grilles and LED headlights. BMW design hallmarks such as the quartet of round headlights and the Hofmeister kink at the base of the C-pillars both appear to be present and correct, despite being details that are no longer sacred within BMW’s design studios.

At the rear, BMW’s next-gen L-shaped lamps, first seen on the X4, have been applied, sitting on what looks to be a more aggressive tail that integrates wider wheelarches and a tapered bootlid. The second car pictured is likely to be an M Sport model, given away by its more aggressive bumper treatments and rear bumper vents.

The cabin will also likely mirror that of the 5-series, which is no bad thing, but as with the exterior, those wanting a dramatic change might be disappointed. BMW has given no indication as yet whether it will follow Audi in moving to a touchscreen-only infotainment system in the future, but as one of the originators of the click-wheel interface and with i-Drive being one of the more resolved systems, if it ain’t broke, why change it? Instead BMW will focus on further improving interior plastics, build quality and general refinement.

> Click here for our review of the BMW 5-series

Engine choices should mimic the three-, four- and six-cylinder petrol and diesel units available in the current 3-series, although we also expect a stronger emphasis on plug-in hybrid versions such as the tax-friendly 330e. We have already spotted the BMW M3 in development, albeit in an earlier prototyping stage than this car. That car will hold on to its six-cylinder power unit and is tipped to apply mild hybrid tech with a 48V electrical system, which could support an electrically assisted turbocharger.

The next 3-series will be rolled out in saloon and estate forms, with coupe and convertible body styles due soon after under a 4-series classification. Due to be shown to the public later this year, the compact executive class is sure to become more competitive upon its release.

 

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