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BMW updates G20 3-Series…again

The changes aren’t enough to qualify for an LCI model

Is the G20 3-Series’ time almost up? PHOTO FROM BMW

Despite approaching the end of its life cycle, BMW reveals a slew of upgrades to the ever-popular G20 3-Series sedan and touring models.

The quintessential executive sports sedan/wagon remains as popular as ever and integral to the brand whose ethos is “The Ultimate Driving Machine.”

Very minor updates on the outside, but we like the new wheels. PHOTOS FROM BMW

The changes are small yet considerable in number, with new exterior colors, new wheel designs (from 17 to 19 inches in staggered widths) from the M Sport catalog, and even new interior fabrics and trim.

The sport seats come standard in Sensatec perforated fabric in two colors with optional Vernasca leather available in four different hues. M Sport packages and the M Performance models can also be ordered with M Sport seats in Vernasca leather with black surfaces and blue-contrast quilting.

Standard cars get the two-spoke polygon-shaped wheel we’re seeing in more BMWs, while the M Sport package and models get a new three-spoke steering wheel with a subtle sightline at the 12-o’clock position.

The latest update to the 3er loses a few more buttons, and makes the air vents a bit more complicated to use. PHOTOS FROM BMW

The latest 3er comes with BMW iDrive with QuickSelect based on BMW Operating System 8.5, plus BMW’s Live Cockpit with the fully digital BMW Curved Display including the BMW Maps navigation system.

Harman Kardon surround sound is available as well. The rear seats also offer a 40:20:40 split-fold to give more cargo space and versatility, and standard triple-zone automatic climate control. It likewise comes with the full ADAS safety suite and an available eSIM with 5G Internet connectivity.

All internal-combustion engines now come standard with electrification. PHOTOS FROM BMW

The latest 3er will continue to have its silky-smooth internal-combustion engines outputting anywhere from 150hp to 286hp in gasoline and diesel fuels, and the range-topping 374hp in-line-six gasoline and the 340hp in-line-six diesels, equipped with mild-hybrid technology.

The 48V mild-hybrid system gives a small but noticeable 11hp boost in power versus the previous non-hybrid versions, and it also aids coasting range. To offset the added weight and complexity, the latest 3-Series now uses as much as 50% aluminum in its structure (panels, hood and suspension components), while the wheels use as much as 70% recycled aluminum.

Mechanically, stiffer rear damper mounting points in the chassis help give better ride control, comfort, and overall performance.

The plug-in hybrid version is also there, but it's not close to a proper all-electric 3er. PHOTO FROM BMW

The plug-in hybrid 3er comprises a four-cylinder petrol engine and an electric motor integrated into the eight-speed paddle-shifter-equipped Steptronic transmission, which generates a combined system output of 292hp.

It will have a 19.5kWh battery that endows the 3er with as much as 101km of all-electric range (85km for the heavier Touring). An onboard 11.5kW charger sees full charge in two hours and 15 minutes.

BMW continues to soldier on with its magnificent internal-combustion engines on the legendary 3-Series, now with electrified assistance plus better connectivity and safety. And being a BMW, you know that the driving experience is still core to its overall experience.

Botchi Santos

Botchi is your friendly, walking car encyclopedia. He loves helping people choose the right vehicle for themselves as much as he enjoys picking the right one for himself. Expect him to write about car culture, test drives and car-shopping advice. His regular column is called ‘Car Life’.