Cape Town - One of this year’s most eagerly anticipated new cars, BMW’s all-new 3 Series, has hit South African shores and, perhaps on a more bittersweet note, it is the first generation that will not be built in the country as Rosslyn’s export programme has shifted to the X3.

The new 3 follows the modern trend of reducing weight despite increased dimensions and to that end, it’s up to 55kg lighter than its predecessor, but 16mm wider, 1mm taller and 85mm longer, of which 41mm goes into the wheelbase to improve occupant space.

Just two engine derivatives will be available from launch, in the form of a 330i turbopetrol and 320d turbodiesel, both with a 2-litre engine capacity. The 330i produces 190kW and 400Nm, up 5kW and 50Nm on the previous version, while the 320d is good for 140kW and 400Nm.

A 320i turbopetrol, with 135kW, and a 330d turbodiesel, rated at 195kW, are set to join the range at a later stage.

New cabin tech

The new 3 Series is offered with a wide range of new technologies and gizmos that have filtered down from upper models, but much of this comes at an additional cost.

The latest BMW Live Cockpit Professional system, for instance, will set you back an additional R24 000, but it gives you a fully digital instrument cluster as well as a high-resolution, 26cm Control Display with configurable widgets and a 20gb hard drive.

Also available for the first time is the BMW personal assistant which responds to ‘Hey, BMW’, followed by it asking how it can help you. The difference between this system and others is that you can give it a name. So for example you can ask it to lower or increase temperature, call your favourite restaurant, look for a place to stop for coffee or ask it about any of the systems on the car you might need access to.

Buyers can also opt for Gesture Control at an extra R3650 as well as BMW Laser Lights (R15 000), Head-Up Display (R17 000) and semi-autonomous driving systems such as Active Cruise Control with Stop & Go (R17 500), Driving Assistant Professional (R34 500).

The new 3 is also available with Adaptive M Suspension, which comes at a R15 400 premium, and an M Sport styling package will set you back R45 400.

So what’s standard then?

3-Series base models come with 17-inch alloys and synthetic leather seating, as well as BMW’s Live Cockpit Plus with satnav and Connected Drive services, cruise control with brake function, automatic climate control and park distance control front and rear.

BMW 3 Series prices

330i Standard R649 000
330i Sport Line R672 600
330i Sport Line Launch Edition R664 000
330i M Sport R694 400
330i M Sport Launch Edition R694 000
320d Standard R649 000
320d Sport Line R672 600
320d Sport Line Launch Edition R664 000
320d M Sport R694 400
320d M Sport Launch Edition R694 000

IOL Motoring