Johannesburg - The G20 generation BMW 3 Series hit South African streets earlier this year offering all the latest in BMW tech, but buyers were given just two engine options in the form of the four-cylinder 330i petrol and 320d diesel models.

But that rather limited range is set to expand soon with three new variants planned from July 2019 production, the petrol line-up being topped and tailed by the M340i xDrive and 320i variants, and the diesel effort boosted with the latest 330d.

Serving as something of an M3 Lite, while topping the pile until the actual M3 arrives, the M340i xDrive is powered by the most potent version of BMW’s 3-litre straight-six turbopetrol, and in this form it’s good for 275kW and 500Nm.

Its urge goes to all four wheels through an eight-speed autobox and an xDrive all-wheel-drive system, which - with a little help from Launch Control - delivers the power to the tarmac smoothly enough to get the car from 0-100km/h in just 4.4 seconds, according to claims. That’s just 0.1 seconds slower than the outgoing M3, for the record.

The AWD system has a rearward bias, although torque distribution between the front and rear axles is fully variable, while its corner carving ability is given a further boost by the fully-variable M Sport rear differential and 10mm-lower M Sport suspension system.

This bridge-builder between the ordinary models and full-fat M models also gets its own unique styling touches inside and out.

Entry-level petrol, diesel flagship

At the bottom end of the range, the familiar 320i badge returns, along with the familiar 2-litre four-cylinder turbopetrol engine, which receives some mild tweaks to the injection and engine control systems. With 135kW and 300Nm on tap, it might be the least powerful 3, but the 320i is no slouch, with BMW claiming a 7.2 second 0-100km/h sprint time.

The other range-addition is a 330d turbodiesel, powered by the latest version of BMW’s 3-litre turbodiesel engine, rated at 195kW and 580Nm. Expect to get from 0-100km/h in 5.5 seconds.

Additional options

Buyers will also have more scope for customisation from July production, with BMW adding to the variety of exterior and interior colour and trim options.

On the outside, new BMW Individual paint finishes include Citrine Black metallic, Oxide Grey metallic, Frozen Dark Grey metallic and Brilliant White metallic.

When speccing up the cabin, clients now have three different BMW Individual interior trim strip designs to choose from and there’s the option of a new Individual leather steering wheel.

Also added to the options list is the Individual extended leather upholstery Merino and Merino full leather trim, which sees the upper section of the instrument panel and the door shoulders wrapped in black fulled leather. What’s more, the two leather trim options are both available in a choice of five colours.

IOL Motoring