The new BMW 3 Series will arrive in Ireland before the end of the year

BMW 3 Series Review

The BMW 3 Series is an icon of the BMW range with over 16 million sold to date in its 45-year history. The G20 3 Series arrived in Ireland in 2019 and now has been updated to keep it competitive in the compact executive class against rivals such as the latest Mercedes-Benz C-Class and the Audi A4. Subtle updates to styling and the addition of some new colours enhance the handsome 3 Series, but the most welcome changes take place in the cabin.

Caroline travelled to Munich with BMW Ireland to drive the latest 3 Series.

The new BMW 3 Series will arrive in Ireland before the end of the year
The new BMW 3 Series will arrive in Ireland before the end of the year

Styling

BMW has made a few small changes to the styling of the 3 Series - a subtle refining of the car's classic good looks. Sold in Ireland as a Saloon or a Touring (estate), at the front the kidney grille has been redesigned with a slightly different contour and the addition of new vertical double bars. The grille hasn't grown in size like some other BMW models. Available in Sport or M Sport trim levels, there are some different trim elements depending on which version you go for. The standard full-LED headlights now have smoother edges and feature new inverted L shaped daytime running lights. Boomerang-shaped air intakes at each side of the front bumper add more sporty definition, while the large central intake in M Sport models has a new honeycomb pattern. At the back there is a more pronounced rear apron emphasising the 3 Series’ sporty stance.

Sport models get 17-inch alloy wheels, while M Sport get 18-inch. Top of the range BMW Performance models come with 19-inch alloy wheels and 20-inch are now available through BMW M Performance Parts. The M Sport Pro Pack for M Sport models adds a black kidney grille surround, black chrome tailpipes, red brake callipers with M logo, and a black M rear spoiler for the saloon models. New colours include Skyscraper Grey, and M Brooklyn Grey - exclusive to the M Sport - as well as several ‘frozen’ metallic matte finishes.

The interior of the updated 3 Series - just fabulous!
The interior of the updated 3 Series - just fabulous!

Interior

Inside, the 3 Series cabin has been modernised with the addition of the new BMW Curved Display for the very first time. We've seen this in some other new generation BMWs like the iX and i4, and it's welcome addition to the cabin of the 3 Series. It looks sleek and high-tech, and gives a stunning widescreen effect. Using the latest BMW operating system 8, it now also responds better to voice commands. The climate controls are accessed through the screen - the manual knobs and switches are gone. But a shortcut on the screen means they are easy to access quickly. Other new features include a rocker switch for the gear selection and sporty paddles on the steering wheel are now standard across the range.

Elsewhere, the quality of the interior is excellent. It feels like a luxury car inside with lots of soft-touch materials and a variety of finishes including Sensatec synthetic leather seats in a number of colours.

Practicality

Rear seat passengers can enjoy the new standard fit tri-zone climate control, though that large transmission tunnel makes the rear bench more comfortable for two rather than three. In terms of boot volume, there's actually not much between the Saloon and the Touring, though the Touring naturally has easier access for loading and unloading. Opt for the 330e hybrid, and bootspace is reduced from 480 litres in the standard saloon to 375 litres. Petrol and diesel versions of the 3 Series Touring offer 500 litres of space or 410 litres in the 330e.

Some mild styling tweaks for the latest 3 Series
Some mild styling tweaks for the latest 3 Series

Engines

The 3 Series is available with petrol and diesel engines, some with mild hybrid technology, and as a plug-in hybrid. The 318d entry level diesel is no longer on sale, so the long-standing 320d with 190hp from a 2.0-litre, four-cylinder will be your best diesel option. All versions of the 3 Series now come with an 8-speed Steptronic automatic transmission. The 330e plug-in hybrid accounts for over 50% of 3 Series sales in Ireland and can be driven electric for up to about 60 kilometres.

On the road

The 3 Series is still a classic rear wheel drive car, but xDrive all-wheel drive is available across the range too. The top of the range BMW Performance models, the six-cylinder M340i (374hp) and M340d (340hp) offer stunning performance aided by a bespoke suspension, M Sport differential, sport transmission, rear-wheel drive focused xDrive, bespoke exhaust system, launch control and a sprint function. The M340i offers milder looks and performance than an M3 but what a car. The 3.0-litre, six cylinder engine is legendary, delivering power with urgency to a beautiful accompaniment of pops and bangs from the bespoke exhaust. The steering is ultra-precise, the car bounds around corners like a true athlete - an elite one.

Back in the 320d Touring, and it was a chance to revisit a more standard 3 Series experience. The 320d offers some of the best economy figures of the range, while offering good refinement on the move. BMW didn't have to tweak the handling - the 3 Series still leaves rivals behind with the level of engagement and agility it offers.

No matter which version you go for, the 3 Series offers class-leading handling, feeling sharp and more driver-focused on the road than rivals. M Sport models come with a sports suspension (except the 330e plug-in hybrid) and do ride a bit firmer than more comfort-biased rivals like the new C-Class.

Rear seating in the 3 Series
Rear seating in the 3 Series

Pricing 

The latest BMW 3 Series starts from €52,440 for the 330e hybrid and the 320i petrol. The 320d now starts from €54,130. The range-topping, high-performance M340d xDrive and M340i xDrive are available from €83,870 and €89,120 respectively. There are two trim level, Sport and M Sport.

Summary

The BMW 3 Series is an icon of the BMW range. You don't mess with an icon but the latest round of styling updates give the 3 Series a sportier and more mature look.

Inside, the 3 Series benefits from the new curved display.  It brings the 3 Series in line with other models in the BMW range and adds a contemporary finish to the cabin. But it's still a gorgeous cabin, driver-focused with lots of good quality materials.

On the road, the 3 Series remains one of the most engaging to drive compact premium saloons. The line-up has been streamlined but the well-placed 330e and 320d should remain high on the shortlist.

Not a major update for the 3 Series but enough to keep it a front runner in its class thanks to its classic good looks, sporty drive and cabin experience.

The BMW 3 Series remains a great choice of compact executive saloon
The BMW 3 Series remains a great choice of compact executive saloon

____________________________

Written by Caroline Kidd

Founder and Editor of Changing Lanes, Juror for Irish Car of the Year


The BMW i4 on test for Changing Lanes!

BMW i4 Review

Read Caroline's BMW i4 review for everything you need to know about buying BMW's new electric car in Ireland.

BMW has been on a 'charge' to electrification with the arrival of many new plug-in hybrids and full electric models in recent months. BMW's 'i' family is growing with the arrival of the BMW iX3, iX and now this, the BMW i4!

The BMW i4 is arguably the most interesting of them all, certainly for people who enjoy driving. According to BMW, the i4 is the brand’s first electric vehicle focused squarely on driving dynamics.

There are two versions available from launch: the BMW i4 eDrive40 tested for Changing Lanes, and the i4 M50 with even more performance worthy of the famous BMW 'M' badge.

The i4 eDrive40 goes on sale in Ireland priced from €65,505. Let's take a closer look.

The BMW i4 on test for Changing Lanes!
The BMW i4 on test for Changing Lanes!

What's so special about the new BMW i4?

The new BMW i4 is a little bit different to other electric BMWs that have come to market recently, like the iX3 and the iX - both SUVs.

The i4 has been designed as a sporty, four-door 'Gran Coupé', making it the real style icon of the BMW i range. This car is just beautiful to look at, with the same timeless good looks of a classic 3 Series or 5 Series. It might look quite like a saloon with its elongated rear end but in fact it's a hatchback - just lift the boot and you will understand. But for sure the 'Gran Coupé' moniker is posher!

From the front, the new i4 bears the brand's signature kidney grille flanked by slim headlights. Colour accents in blue feature in the lights and around the badge if you look closely, a characteristic linking all electric BMWs of this generation. But certainly the styling of the new i4 doesn't scream 'electric', which is a good thing.

M Sport versions like the car on test for Changing Lanes (from €67,345) look the best with 18-inch alloy wheels, M Sport exterior bodystyling, and glossy black exterior trim.

Inside, the i4 has a latest generation BMW cabin with a showstopping curved digital display and exquisite quality worthy of a premium car.

Powered by an 80.7 kWh battery, BMW says over 500 kilometres of driving is possible on a single battery charge. So you needn't really worry about range. But it's the way this car handles that really impresses.

The BMW i4 uses a 80.7kWh battery
The BMW i4 uses a 80.7kWh battery that can potentially return over 500 kilometres on a full charge

Inside the BMW i4

M Sport versions have leather upholstery and an M Sport branded leather steering wheel. The main focal point of the cabin is now the 12.3-inch information display and 14.9-inch control display that combine to give a stunning widescreen effect, very fashionable in the motor industry at the moment. It certainly moves the game on for BMW interiors and is easy to use and navigate.

Yet there is a familiar feeling to this i4 cabin. The quality is excellent throughout. The driving position can be low and sporty. There is a small bit of use of blue accents inside to highlight this car's membership of the BMW i family. But it's subtle and does not distract at all from what is a wonderful cabin experience in a premium electric car.

The BMW i4 is a Gran Coupé so open those frameless doors and you'll find seating for five. However, there is a large transmission tunnel in the rear so it's probably more suited to two adults in the back. There is some compromise to headroom for the sake of that sloping roofline. It was all worth it.

The boot comes with a powered tailgate and opens just like a hatchback to reveal 470 litres of space. There's no 'frunk' under the bonnet but the i4 can store its cables away neatly in a space at the side of the boot.

The interior of the BMW i4 M Sport
The interior of the BMW i4 M Sport - just gorgeous

Driving the i4

BMW has years of experience creating sporty premium cars and the i4 certainly got the memo. It was designed from the onset to be sporty and engaging, which influenced the design and placing of all the components to make the best of it.

Yes acceleration is rapid, even in this eDrive40 variant. It takes just 5.7 seconds to get to 100 km/h, and the i4 is always ready to respond quickly. Yet, the i4 just feels marvellous on the road. In the eDrive40, a single motor sends 340hp to the rear wheels and the new i4 handles like a classic rear wheel drive BMW. Praise be.

The steering is tactile, and there is a grace to the way this car handles the tarmac that belies what you might think possible of an electric car. There's very few cars in this price range at the moment that can compete with the i4 when it comes to driver engagement, even the Polestar 2 or Tesla Model 3. It's also sublimely comfortable.

In real world driving over 400 kilometres seems possible even with high speed motorway driving. The i4 was efficient during my time with it, averaging about 18.5kWh per 100 kilometres. Being low and sleek certainly helps.

The i4 can charge up to 205kW, getting to 80% battery charge in about 30 minutes. Up to 11kW AC charging is possible.

The BMW i40 M50 if you want even more power - 536hp
The BMW i40 M50 if you want even more power - 536hp and all wheel drive

Did you like it?

The BMW i4 is an excellent car. So good, that you will forget it's electric. It's a car you buy because you love driving.

For sure, there is still a premium to be paid for an electric car like the i4. But for the refinement and rapid acceleration, there is enough here to abandon your premium petrol or diesel saloon once and for all.

An SUV might be more practical, but the i4 is sexier by far. Sporty premium electric cars don't get much better than this.

The BMW i4 compromises none of the style and quality the brand was built upon. It handles beautifully and with well over 400 kilometres possible between charges, that's a lot of fun driving in utter comfort.

The interior quality belongs to a car of this price also and the new digital technology looks great.

If you're thinking of buying an i4, you probably should!

The BMW i4 is fun to drive and comfortable too
The BMW i4 is fun to drive and comfortable too

Model tested: BMW i40 eDrive40 M Sport
Price: 
€67,345
Battery:
80.7 kWh
Range: 493-590 km (WLTP)
Power: 340hp
Torque: 430Nm
Top speed: 190km/h
Acceleration (0-100 km/h): 5.7 seconds
Motor Tax: 
€120 per year

____________________________

Written by Caroline Kidd

Founder and Editor of Changing Lanes


The new BMW 7 Series will arrive in Ireland later in 2022

BMW 7 Series On The Way (2022)

The new BMW 7 Series will arrive in Ireland later in 2022
The new BMW 7 Series will arrive in Ireland later in 2022

BMW has taken the covers off the new BMW 7 Series, set for market launch at the end of 2022.

The latest generation of the brand’s flagship saloon will bring new levels of electrification, sustainability and digitalisation, including a new all electric BMW i7. There will also be two plug-in hybrids available.

Available exclusively in long-wheelbase form in either M Sport or Excellence specification, the new BMW 7 Series range comprises models from both the BMW i and BMW M brands.

The pure electric i7 xDrive60 will launch later this year, using a 101.7kWh battery and two electric motors. The range is expected to be between 590 and 625km, while the combined power output is over 544 hp. AC charging will be available for the i7 at a rate of up to 11 kW, while DC power can be taken on board at up to 195 kW.

The plug-in hybrid BMW 750e xDrive (490hp) and M760e xDrive (571hp) are set to follow in spring 2023, with an electric range of 80km expected.

The dedicated M Performance model will deliver 571hp, combining the performance characteristics of a BMW M model with plug-in hybrid technology.

The BMW i7 M70 xDrive flagship model with 600hp will follow later in 2023.

Inside the BMW 7 Series
Inside the BMW 7 Series

One of the main highlights of the equipment options that will be available in Ireland from Spring 2023 is the new BMW 7 Series is the BMW Theatre Screen. This includes a 31.3" 8K touchscreen display with Bowers & Wilkins surround sound system with optional in-seat exciters, built-in touch screen remotes in the door panels (BMW Touch Command), and an automated rear shade system that closes when the BMW Theatre Screen is turned on.

The new BMW 7 Series has grown by 130mm in length to 5,391mm, by 48mm in width to 1,950mm and by 51mm in height to 1,544mm. Its wheelbase is now 5mm longer at 3,215mm, whichenhances seating comfort in the rear. The headroom in the interior of the new BMW 7 Series has also been improved.

The new BMW 7 Series will be built at the BMW Group Plant Dingolfing, Germany. All electricity for the production of the new BMW 7 Series coming from renewable sources, while use of recycled and sustainable materials in the car has been significantly increased.

The new fully-electric BMW i7 xDrive60 is priced from €132,210 (RRP), with the first Irish deliveries expected to commence from December 2022.

The 7 Series will launch with electric and plug-in hybrid options
The 7 Series will be available with electric and plug-in hybrid options

The new BMW iX3 on test for Changing Lanes!

BMW iX3 Review (2022)

Read Caroline's BMW iX3 review for everything you need to know about buying BMW's electric SUV in Ireland in 2022.

In 2021, BMW has strengthened its portfolio of electric vehicles considerably with the arrival of the new BMW iX3, an electric version of the popular BMW X3 mid-size SUV. This year has also seen the launch of the flagship electric iX large SUV and the i4 electric sports saloon.

The new BMW iX3 on test for Changing Lanes!
The new BMW iX3 on test for Changing Lanes!

What's so special about the new BMW iX3?

But there's a familiarity to the iX3 that's sure to help it penetrate the market here, a market that is becoming ever more receptive to battery power.

With pricing starting from €74,815, the BMW iX3 is perched predictably in the higher end of the market. But in recent years rivals Audi and Mercedes-Benz have been bringing their electric flagship SUVs to market, spearheading change that's rippling throughout every corner of the industry.

The development of the BMW iX3 was based on the experience amassed by the BMW i brand since 2011.

The iX3 is a pipe dream for many, but it's surprisingly effective and desirable for its market with robust range from a 80 kWh battery. Official data says the range is up to 460 km (WLTP) on a single charge, but most drivers won't emulate quite that. Still over 300 km is achievable and there's a lot of comfort and confidence driving on a full charge because of that.

The iX3 uses an 80 kWh battery
The iX3 uses an 80 kWh battery

Visually there are a few little hints to the iX3's electric underpinnings. Granted on test is the fully loaded 'Premier Edition Pro' that looks equally smart and sinister with bespoke modifications to the front and rear apron, enclosed front kidney grille and 20" black aerodynamic alloy wheels. But it's stout and squat like a good old-fashioned BMW SUV, many of which had found a home in Ireland since the X5 started it all.

Inside the new BMW iX3

Slipping inside the new BMW iX3 is a very pleasant experience. The cabin quality is excellent, the design sturdy and reassuring. There's no compromise in quality, everything looks and feels great, like any other X3 in the range. There's a full digital experience with a digital instrument cluster for the driver. It's a proper luxury liner.

The interior of the car also contains blue accents as a reference to the electric drive system. These can be found on both the Start/Stop button and the gear selector lever. Other model-specific cues include the model lettering on the centre console, door sill plates bearing the BMW i logo, the screens in the cockpit and Control Display adapted to the presence of an electric drive system as well as the standard-fitted ambient lighting, which provides blue illumination in its default setting.

Standard equipment for the new BMW iX3 includes BMW Intelligent Personal Assistant, smartphone integration with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto preparation and the digital services from BMW Connected Charging.

The interior of the new BMW iX3
The interior of the new BMW iX3

The BMW iX3 Premier Edition includes 20” black aerodynamic wheels, automatic tailgate, adaptive suspension and panoramic sunroof. Vernasca leather is available in a choice of four colours, along with Sensatec dashboard, sun protect glazing, ambient lighting and electric seats. Additional standard features include wireless phone charging, heated front seats and the brand’s very latest driver assistance technology, including Driving Assistant Professional, Parking Assistant and BMW Live Cockpit Professional.

Additional standard features on the Premier Edition Pro include BMW head-up display, Harman Kardon surround sound, gesture control, Parking Assistant Plus, automatic high beam assistant, and lumbar support.

Is it practical?

The iX3 remains a practical family SUV with little compromise on space inside the vehicle. The driver, the front passenger and the three occupants in the rear have almost exactly the same levels of space as in a conventionally powered BMW X3 variant.

Boot capacity also matches that of combustion-engined BMW X3 models, while the boot floor lifts up to reveal a stowage compartment for the charging cable or luggage compartment cover. Thanks to the 40:20:40 split/folding rear seat backrest, load space can be expanded as required. The load capacity of the new BMW iX3 is between 510 and 1,560 litres.

The BMW iX3 is capable of fast charging up to 150 kW
The BMW iX3 is capable of fast charging up to 150 kW

The new iX3 is capable of charging at 150 kW at DC fast-charging stations, with recharging from 0 to 80 per cent taking just over 30 minutes in these instances. When using AC terminals, there's single-phase charging available at up to 7.4 kW and three-phase charging at up to 11 kW.

Driving the BMW iX3

So is it still the ultimate driving machine with a battery? There's a healthy 286 hp and 400 Nm from a newly designed fifth-generation BMW eDrive electric motor. But that will be needed to haul the hulking iX3 at over 2.2 tonnes. Still the iX3 manages a 0 to 100 kmh sprint in just 6.8 seconds.

Power is transferred to the rear wheels and adaptive suspension fitted as standard optimises sporting responses and comfort. There's no four wheel drive option and ground clearance is not a strong point so don't try anything too adventurous with it.

The BMW iX3 has a unique rear axle subframe and bespoke chassis integration to help it meet the particular demands on a pure electric vehicle. The iX3 feels good on the road with the comfort and refinement we expect from a premium SUV. Handling and grip is fine. But the weight of the battery and its distribution appears to take the edge off BMW's famed sporty handling characteristics. The steering remains quite neutral too.

BMW enters the arms race with the iX3
BMW enters the electric premium SUV arms race with the iX3

Did you like it?

More than I thought I would. The iX3 is a brilliant electric SUV. Yes you pay for it but the quality and execution of this car is top notch. It remains comfortably familiar BMW territory - a beautiful interior, classic BMW design cues, and utterly seducing from the moment you slip behind the wheel and put it in Drive.

With over 300 km possible on one battery charge, I did many journeys with no charging required between them, including motorway journeys.

While ultimate 'ev' driving machine might be a stretch too far for this reviewer, comfort and refinement remain reassuringly premium and a good omen for the future of electric BMWs. The iX3 is another surprise hit of the year for Changing Lanes.

The BMW iX3 is a capable and desirable electric SUV
The BMW iX3 is a capable and desirable electric SUV

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: BMW iX3 Premier Edition Pro
Price: 
€76,067
Battery:
80 kWh
Power:  286 hp
Torque: 400 Nm
Top speed: 180 km/h
Acceleration (0-100 km/h): 6.8 seconds
Motor Tax: 
€120 per year


In this review we test the Audi A4 vs BMW 3 Series

Audi A4 vs BMW 3 Series: Which Is Better?

In this review we test the Audi A4 vs BMW 3 Series
In this review we test the Audi A4 vs BMW 3 Series

Audi A4 vs BMW 3 Series: Which is better?

Thinking of buying a new mid size executive saloon in Ireland in 2022? In this Audi A4 vs BMW 3 Series comparison review, we are going to take a closer look at two titans of the executive car park – the Audi A4 and the BMW 3 Series. In 2019, BMW released an all new generation of the 3 Series, while in late 2019, a revised Audi A4 range hit dealer showrooms in Ireland.

The G20 BMW 3 Series sports a gentle evolution in styling of a very familiar silhouette. It’s the classic German 3-box saloon. Proportions have been revised, styling modernised more in line with the 5 Series from a class above. But the hallmarks of the 3 Series remain – the strong BMW kidney grille at the front and a road hugging sporty stance teasing the class-leading handling ability the BMW 3 Series will always be inextricably linked to.

In the Audi corner, the A4 does a fine job of commanding the executive car park. Timeless design, clean lines and elegant detailing are what make buyers fall in love with the Audi A4 quicker than you can say ‘Vorsprung durch Technik’. The 2019 facelift enhanced what was already a smart, contemporary design of a premium saloon car.

The interior of the latest 2020 Audi A4
The interior of the latest 2020 Audi A4

LED headlights are standard on both the A4 and the 3 Series ranges. Trim levels give a classic look or a sporty one in both the 3 Series and A4 ranges. This reviewer prefers the sporty look bestowed by BMW’s M Sport trim or Audi’s S line. Larger alloy wheels, meaner body kits and other exotic details make these models a little bit special (and more expensive).

So which car has the best interior?

The latest generation BMW 3 Series has a new interior that has been delightfully modernised with the latest technology features and infotainment. The material quality is excellent with beautiful leather upholstery available as standard on higher spec M Sport models. We loved the sporty M Sport steering wheel and new digital instrument panel, the latter which comes as standard across the range. SE and Sport models get a new 8.8-inch touchscreen infotainment system, while M Sport gets the larger 10.25-inch with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, gesture and voice control. You can also control using the iDrive controller on the centre console.

In the cabin of the Audi A4, you can have a similar digital and techy experience. The cabin design is even better in the Audi A4. Though this car debuted in 2015, it still looks really elegant and contemporary inside. The 2019 update has made the A4 even better again with the latest 10.1-inch high resolution MMI touch display tilted slightly towards the driver. This set up comes as standard and keeps the Audi A4 at the races. A digital instrument panel is an extra however.

The 2020 Audi A4 S line
The 2020 Audi A4 S line

How practical are they?

The 3 Series has a longer wheelbase than the car it replaces and cabin comfort has been improved for passengers. There is still quite an intrusive transmission tunnel in the middle but overall there is more shoulder room in the front and extra legroom in the back. BMW has also increased the height of the door opening so getting in and out of the car is easier for rear passengers. There is not much between these two cars in that they will fit four adults comfortably. The boot volume is the same in both the A4 and the 3 Series - 480 litres. Both cars are available as more practical estate cars – the Audi A4 Avant and BMW 3 Series Touring.

Engine options

In Ireland the new BMW 3 Series is sold with petrol and diesel engines, and there is also a new BMW 330e plug-in hybrid. On the petrol side there is a 2.0-litre petrol badged 318i, 320i or 330i depending on horsepower; there are also 2.0-litre and 3.0-litre diesels (badged 318d, 320d, 330d). There's also a top end 340i and 340d models, which also feature BMW ‘xdrive’ four wheel drive. My pick is the popular BMW 320d with 2.0-litre diesel engine and 190 hp for a mixture of power, refinement and economy. 8-speed automatics and 6-speed manual gearboxes are available. However the 330e hybrid is another good choice in the range.

The interior of the 2020 BMW 3 Series
The interior of the 2020 BMW 3 Series

The Audi A4 is also available with a range of petrol and diesel engines, however at this time there is no A4 plug-in hybrid to match the popular BMW 330e. Power comes from a 2.0-litre petrol engine with 150 or 190 hp, or a 2.0-litre diesel with 136, 163 or 190 hp. A 6-speed manual gearbox or S tronic automatic are also available. Audi’s quattro four wheel drive is available on the 2.0-litre 190hp diesel. The 2.0-litre diesel with 163hp is a popular choice in this large executive car segment and very economical.

Why not try these for a test drive?

Audi A4 35 TDI 163hp S tronic S Line. Fuel consumption quoted at 5.4-5.7 litres/100km.

BMW 320d 190hp M Sport. Fuel consumption quoted at 4.4-4.7 litres/100km.

Driving them

On the road both the Audi A4 and the BMW 3 Series offer premium levels of comfort and refinement. They slice through the air seamlessly and silently. The Audi A4 seems just that little better in this regard with refinement and comfort being key pillars of this model. But that’s not to say that the BMW 3 Series is bad in this particular area. However the BMW 3 Series is a lot more fun and engaging to drive than the Audi A4, even as a basic four pot diesel. The steering is sporty and tactile, the grip and poise sensational. It’s the one that never ceases to entertain.

We'll always love a drive in the BMW 3 Series
We'll always love a drive in the BMW 3 Series

Equipment

For the most up to date pricing for the Irish market, please check the manufacturer's website!

The BMW 3 Series comes in three trims SE, Sport and M Sport. The entry level SE model has 17″ alloys, LED headlights, BMW Light Carpet, interior ambient lighting, reversing camera, electric folding rear view mirrors, three-zone air conditioning and enhanced acoustic glazing. There’s also a leather sport steering wheel and BMW Live Cockpit plus, with 8.8-inch central instrument cluster.

The Audi A4 comes in SE or S Line trim. Standard equipment includes heated, electrically adjustable front seats, tri zone climate control, the 10.1-inch colour display, smartphone interface, 18“ alloys, LED headlights and rear lamps, rear view camera, Audi Drive Select, keyless go, front and rear parking sensors, and cruise control.

The Audi A4 shines for its refinement and elegance
The Audi A4 shines for its refinement and elegance

So which are you buying?

This is a very tough call. When you are buying a car at this level of the market, a few things are guaranteed: prestige, refinement, comfort and quality. The Audi A4 and the BMW 3 Series deliver on these fronts. Under the skin, the BMW is the newer car here, however the Audi A4 2019 facelift means that you would be hard pressed to know it. The Audi A4 steals the show in terms of interior design and technology. It just is a nicer cabin to spend time in. However, beside the BMW 3 Series, the Audi A4 is fine but dull to drive. The 3 Series is really good to drive, engaging, athletic and supple. The Audi A4 is a classy, plush ride. So which will it be?

In light of our summation above, you won’t regret buying either car. But for this reviewer who loves driving, my money would be on the BMW 3 Series.

Caroline Kidd


More charging options for MINI and BMW drivers

BMW Charging/MINI Charging In Ireland

More charging options for MINI and BMW drivers
More charging options for MINI and BMW drivers

With the launch of BMW Charging and MINI Charging, customers in Ireland now have access to one of the world’s largest public charging networks, using just one RFID card or App.

Using their single BMW Charging or MINI Charging card, or the new BMW or MINI Charging App, customers can charge at more than 1,085 charging points from different operators in Ireland, as well as 173,000 charge points across Europe.

BMW and MINI drivers benefit from access to charge points from a range of operators, with the current network including ESB Group eCars, EVBox, Chargepoint Ireland and others.

High-power DC charging stations via IONITY are also part of the BMW Charging network.

Combined, this gives drivers access to over 832 AC and 253 DC charging points in Ireland, plus a further 162,000 AC and 11,000 DC charging points across Europe.

BMW or MINI Charging customers can register for a pay-as-you-go ‘Flex tariff’, which provides the driver with access to all included network operators using a single charge card, without the need for a monthly membership or subscription to each individual operator. Customers choosing this tariff simply pay each month for the charging they have used. Pricing is based on the individual Charge Point Operators pay-as-you-go rates.

For drivers who use public charging more frequently, BMW and MINI Charging additionally offers the ‘Active tariff’, which for a base fee of €4.99 per month provides customers attractive standardised pricing per/kWh across the included networks (excludes IONITY). Customers using up to 43kW AC pay just €0.23 per kWh, up to 150kW DC is €0.27 per kWh.

Access to the IONITY charging network with up to 350kW DC Charging capability is available to both ‘Flex tariff’ and ‘Active tariff’ customers at their standard rate of €0.73 per/kWh. However, for drivers who use the IONITY charging network regularly, the optionally available ‘IONITY Plus’ package (€13.00 per month base fee) provides access to a preferential rate of just €0.27 per kWh, saving drivers €0.46 per kWh compared to the standard rate.

Customers who purchase a new fully-electric or plug-in hybrid BMW or MINI via a BMW or MINI Centre are offered the ‘Active tariff’ for 12 months without base fee. BMW customers who purchase a new BMW iX3, BMW iX or BMW i4 vehicle via a BMW Centre are also eligible for the ‘IONITY Plus’ package for 12 months, without base fee.

Drivers can see a breakdown of their charging history and fees using the App or at the new BMW or MINI charging website, with the cost of completed charging sessions and any optional package subscriptions invoiced monthly.

To locate nearby charge points, customers can use the My BMW App, MINI Connected App, new BMW/MINI Charging App or BMW/MINI Charging websites. The BMW and MINI Navigation system also shows nearby charge points, and all charging points within the network.

For more information on BMW and MINI Charging, visit www.bmw-charging.com or www.mini-charging.com


BMW launches its world-first eDrive Zone technology in Ireland

BMW Launches eDrive Zone Technology In Ireland

BMW launches its world-first eDrive Zone technology in Ireland
BMW launches its world-first eDrive Zone technology in Ireland

The world-first BMW eDrive Zone technology is now available in Ireland, giving drivers of BMW plug-in hybrids like the 330e and 530e an intelligent service that automates the process of switching to electric-only power when a BMW plug-in hybrid vehicle enters a defined area of a city.

Already active in Dublin and Limerick, BMW has further plans to launch its eDrive Zones in Cork and Galway in the coming year.

Unique in the worldwide automotive industry and a first in Ireland, a BMW eDrive Zone automatically ensures that the electric power is conserved for use during the part of the journey within defined zones, if the journey destination is entered into the vehicle’s navigation system.

There are also plans to introduce the BMW Points loyalty programme in Ireland, where drivers of BMW plug-in hybrid models will be rewarded with attractive offerings via a point system. This has already been launched to BMW customers in the UK. Every electrically driven kilometre will count and within an eDrive Zone, twice as many points can be collected.

“This is the type of flexibility that customers want, as they make the transition to electromobility” said Kevin Davidson, Managing Director BMW Group Ireland, commenting on the launch of BMW eDrive Zones.

“A plug-in hybrid vehicle combines the best of two worlds: emission-free city-driving as well as long-distance capabilities. We urge the Irish government to prioritise plug-in hybrid vehicles in order to achieve the shared objective of reducing CO2 emissions. This technology will help improve air quality in cities around Ireland and also reduces running costs for drivers. It’s win-win for everyone”, Davidson added.

The BMW eDrive Zones service, available as standard on BMW plug-in hybrid models running the latest BMW Operating System 7.0, uses geo-fencing technology via GPS within the vehicle’s navigation system. The eDrive Zones in Dublin and Limerick are highlighted graphically on the vehicle’s Central Control Display navigation screen, so drivers can see their location.

The BMW eDrive Zones service is available on the BMW 330e, BMW 530e, BMW 545e, BMW 745e, BMW X3 30e (produced from August 2021) and BMW X5 45e drivers with BMW Operating System 7.0. Additional compatible models launching in the future. BMW eDrive Zones has also been made available via a free over-the-air software update for compatible BMW plug-in hybrid vehicles, meaning existing customers can also benefit from this technology.


The BMW X1 xDrive25e on test for Changing Lanes!

BMW X1 xDrive25e Hybrid (2021) Review

The BMW X1 xDrive25e on test for Changing Lanes!
The BMW X1 xDrive25e on test for Changing Lanes!

Caroline drives the 2021 BMW X1!

The BMW X1. The baby of the BMW X family of SUVs. For BMW, with a rich history in SUVs like the popular X5, the new brief required of the market was to beef up the compacts to satiate growing consumer demand for anything that looked at all like it might be good off-road!

The result was the X1, first launched in 2009, with a second generation model debuting in 2015. In 2019 the brand refreshed the car with some updated styling and the introduction of an all-new plug-in hybrid model.

Now the BMW X1 meets Changing Lanes for the first time. Excited, yes!

What's new for the 2021 BMW X1?

Plug-in hybrid is hot right now, you might have noticed. Now joining the X1’s range of petrol and diesel engines is the BMW X1 PHEV – aka the BMW X1 xDrive25e plug-in hybrid model.

The X1 range goes on sale from €40,775, with the plug in hybrid available from €45,790, while the sporty M Sport model on test retails from €47,287. There are four model variants available for the X1 - SE, Sport, xLine and M Sport - and each stands apart with its own unique looks and equipment to match.

The BMW X1 PHEV retails from €47,287 in Ireland
The BMW X1 PHEV retails from €47,287 in Ireland

The X1 has a stylish and upmarket presence. It’s not the most exciting or sporty BMW you ever set eyes upon, but with a softer, more friendly look to it. The M Sport version comes equipped with upgraded M Sport suspension and the M Aerodynamics package. Other features include heated front seats, folding exterior mirrors and Dakota Leather upholstery. The front apron, side skirts, wheel arch trim, diffuser and cladding on the BMW X1 M Sport come in body colour, with larger air intakes than other models.

Inside the 2021 BMW X1

The cabin of the 2021 BMW X1 is a comfortable and secure place to be. While this is an older generation BMW interior, the fit and finish of the car is truly special. It feels so upmarket and well-built. So classy!

This latest model incorporates the sixth generation of BMW’s iDrive system that introduces a touchscreen control for the Control Display alongside the iDrive Controller and optional intelligent voice control.

The X1 is a compact car but it feels spacious inside for this class of vehicle. Boot space is slightly compromised by the battery on board for the plug-in hybrid model, but it's not a huge impact and the boot does feel practical with a hatchback style opening for good access. There's 450 litres in total. A powered tailgate is available. Standard 40:20:40 split folding backrests allow the boot capacity to be increased to 1,470 litres.

The interior of the BMW X1
The interior of the BMW X1

What are my options?

The BMW X1 is powered by a range of three and four cylinder turbo engines, using either a front-wheel drive configuration or BMW xDrive intelligent all-wheel drive. Manual and automatic gearboxes are available. The petrol range starts with the 140 hp 1.5-litre sDrive18i. There is also a more powerful 2.0-litre X1 sDrive20i with 192 hp. The diesel range uses a 2.0-litre engine, and both the sDrive and the all-wheel drive xDrive18d models deliver 150 hp. The 190hp all-wheel-drive xDrive20d is at the top of the X1 range.

BMW is stepping up its electrification journey with the addition of new plug-in hybrids to familiar favourites of the range. The new X1 xDrive25e plug-in hybrid on test uses a 1.5-litre, three cylinder engine with a 9.7 kWh battery giving an electric range of up to 57 km. The petrol engine transfers its power to a 6-speed Steptronic transmission and drives the front wheels. The electric motor delivers its power to the rear wheels via a single-speed transmission. This makes for a hybrid specific all-wheel drive, which makes the X1 super agile! It grips the road exceptionally well, with 220 hp available.

The new BMW X1 PHEV uses a 1.5-litre petrol engine, battery and electric motor
The new BMW X1 PHEV uses a 1.5-litre petrol engine, battery and electric motor

On the road in the BMW X1 xDrive25e

So beneath the quite demure looks, the X1 hybrid offers a lively drive and great handling. This is down to the car’s low centre of gravity, wide track, short overhangs, high level of body and chassis rigidity, and a suspension tuned well for comfort and agility. The xDrive intelligent all-wheel-drive system is linked with BMW’s DSC (Dynamic Stability Control) to keep oversteer or understeer in check, while the M Sport models add M Sport suspension for a sharper drive.

If you do a lot of town driving, the X1 PHEV is ideal as an introduction to electric motoring with up to 57 km available from a fully charged battery. From a wall box, the battery can be charged in just over 3 hours or in 5 hours from a conventional household socket. The charging socket is located under a separate flap on the front left side wall of the car.

Over a week of driving, my average fuel consumption was 7 litres per 100 kilometre. I failed to keep the battery topped up, so with more regular charging the X1 could be run more efficiently.

The X1 is a practical compact SUV with plug-in hybrid power
The X1 is a practical compact SUV with plug-in hybrid power

Did you like it?

The BMW X1 really surprised me. It’s a real high quality compact SUV, one with all of the class and refinement of a BMW wrapped up in a smaller (and chunkier) package like the X1.

It’s not the trendiest looking machine but the cabin may seduce you with its class, design and quality. It feels a little old school but in a reassuring way, like a good strong cup of tea!

This is a practical car with plenty of flexibility that gives it a headstart over the BMW 1 Series for example, and a different character.

Yet its nimble, compact and fun to drive. While there are petrol and diesel engines on offer, the X1 plug-in hybrid is a good option for urban drivers who can make use of that electric range, charge after every journey, and sample electric motoring for a limited range.

There is lots of power and it is super refined. So guess what? We really enjoyed driving the X1 at Changing Lanes!

BMW continues to expand plug-in hybrid range with new X1 PHEV
BMW continues to expand plug-in hybrid range with new X1 PHEV

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: BMW X1 xDrive25e
Price:
€47,287
Engine: 
1.5-litre petrol electric hybrid
Power: 220 hp
Torque: 385 Nm
Top speed: 193 km/h
Acceleration (0-100 km/h): 6.9 seconds
CO2 emissions: 
43-48 g/km
Motor Tax: 
€140 per year


The new BMW 4 Series Gran Coupé

BMW 4 Series Gran Coupé (2021) On Way To Ireland!

The new BMW 4 Series Gran Coupé
The new BMW 4 Series Gran Coupé

The all-new BMW 4 Series Gran Coupé will arrive in Ireland this November, priced from €55,350.

It features enhanced driving dynamics, a sharper design aligned to the BMW brand’s new design language and a new interior, following on from the launch of the BMW 4 Series Coupé in Ireland in 2020.

The new 4 Series Coupé will be offered in a range of engine variants and trims, including 420d M Sport, 420d xDrive M Sport, 430d xDrive M Sport, 420i M Sport and 430i M Sport, with M Sport Pro Editions offered in addition on each engine variant.

M440d xDrive and M440i xDrive will also be available.

The second generation of the BMW 4 Series Gran Coupé is based on the technical underpinnings of the new BMW 4 Series Coupé, which means a far broader set of design and dynamic performance characteristics now distinguishes it from the BMW 3 Series range, compared with the outgoing model. The car’s aerodynamics and the rigidity of the body and chassis mountings have undergone rigorous optimisation, while bespoke tuning of the chassis technology promises a sporty and stimulating driving experience.

Standard Irish specification includes 18” M double-spoke Bi-colour Alloy wheels, M Sport suspension, M sport spoiler in body colour, M sport exterior styling, high-gloss Shadowline Exterior trim, Vernsasca leather upholstery, Aluminium Tetragon interior trim, ambient lighting, anthracite headlining, BMW online services, Live Cockpit Professional and ConnectedPackage Pro.

In addition, M Sport Pro Edition models include 19” M Double-spoke Jet Alloy Wheels, BMW individual lights shadow line, M Sport seat belts, sun protection glass, M Sport spoiler, M adaptive suspension, M Sport brakes with blue calipers, M Sport differential, Black mirror caps, Individual metallic paint and individual piano black interior trim.

The interior of the new 4 Series Gran Coupé
The interior of the new 4 Series Gran Coupé

Optional Packs include the Comfort Pack (including steering wheel heating, electric boot lid, comfort access and extended storage), Comfort Plus Pack (including comfort access, heated steering wheel, electric memory seats and front lumbar support), Technology Pack (including gesture control, head-up display, enhanced wireless charging and Harman Kardon surround system), Technology Plus Pack (includes parking assistant plus, driver assistant professional, enhanced Bluetooth and wireless charging, drive recorder, gesture control, head-up display and Harman Kardon surround system) and finally Visibility Pack, which offers Laserlights and High-Beam assistant.

A number of single options are also available.

Model DescriptionIE RRPOTR
420i M Sport€55,350.00€56,225.00
430i  M Sport€62,600.00€63,475.00
M440i xDrive€83,620.00€84,495.00
420d M Sport€55,900.00€56,775.00
420d xDrive M Sport€58,870.00€59,745.00

The all-new BMW i4 electric coupé will also go on sale this November, with pricing starting from €63,565 on the road and an all-electric range of up to 590 km.

The 2021 BMW 4 Series Gran Coupé will be built at BMW Group Plant Munich together with the all-electric BMW i4.

The new 4 Series Gran Coupé goes on sale in Ireland this November
The new 4 Series Gran Coupé goes on sale in Ireland this November

The new BMW 330e on test for Changing Lanes!

BMW 330e Review (2022)

The new BMW 330e on test for Changing Lanes!
The new BMW 330e on test for Changing Lanes!

Thinking of buying a new BMW 3 Series in Ireland. Read Caroline's BMW 330e review for everything you need to know about the hybrid 3 Series.

What happens when you mix plug-in hybrid power with the BMW 3 Series? It’s a question very much worth exploring as the German brand continues to launch a slew of new electrified models on the Irish market.

Badged 330e, the 3 Series hybrid has some history, debuting for the first time in Ireland back in 2016. Yet with an all-new generation of the 3 Series on sale since 2019, and a reworked 330e, it’s game on in the Changing Lanes test garage!

Driving the latest generation BMW 3 Series again is a reminder of a few magical days in 2019 spent with the 320d. A BMW 320d is a bit of a legend in its own right with a four cylinder diesel engine that delivers smart economy and plenty of fun behind the wheel.

What's so special about the BMW 330e?

But the 330e has proven its mettle in the 3 Series range, winning over its own quotient of buyers with its smooth petrol power and ability to plug in and charge up between drives, plus super low CO2 emissions meaning motor tax is just €140 per year.

In the new generation of the BMW 3 Series of course it’s ‘better’ all round. They don’t release these cars without some improvements!

The BMW 330e Hybrid goes on sale in Ireland from €48,894
The BMW 330e Hybrid goes on sale in Ireland from €48,894

Let’s recap on a few of the basics first. The BMW 3 Series range kicks off from €44,453 in Ireland for a petrol 318i, with a diesel 318d from €46,564 and the 320d range from €49,765. The 330e hybrid starts from €48,894.

The BMW 330e uses a 2.0-litre four cylinder petrol engine, battery and electric motor. Power output is a formidable 292 hp while there is 420 Nm of torque to play with. Yipee!

The BMW 330e is handsome. Super handsome. Finished in Portimao Blue and bejewelled with the M Sport trim elements, our 330e test car is sporty, muscular, and sophisticated.

Inside the BMW 3 Series

Inside the 3 Series has a wonderful interior that puts the driver competently in the centre of the action. This is a real driver’s car. Vernasca leather upholstery makes us feel comfortably executive, while the digital instrument panel, centre screen and iDrive system give the required touch of modernity. Material quality is excellent and this is a great car to spend time behind the wheel of!

The junior executive saloon will seat five with good sized footwells in the rear, though a large transmission tunnel eats into legroom for a middle passenger. Boot space is compromised somewhat in the 330e plug-in hybrid however, down about 100 litres to 375 litres to accommodate the battery.

The interior of the 2021 BMW 3 Series
The interior of the 2021 BMW 3 Series

Driving the BMW 330e

On the road, the 330e feels snappy and swift. Power delivery gets a professional finish. You wouldn’t expect anything less from a car wearing this badge. The 330e is as happy to cruise as it is to take on some corners. Rear wheel drive agility keeps things light and interesting behind the wheel. There’s plenty of grip and steering is direct. The set up is quite firm in this one, so rougher road surfaces do communicate more into the cabin. But on the smooth stuff, all is well.

Interestingly the car doesn’t feel quite as communicative in your hands as the 320d we tested previously. The electrified powertrain mutes the sensations somewhat. But the instant power delivery of the electric motor is immediately obvious. Boom!

But let’s not forget there is mighty wizardry at play here allowing you to slip this baby into electric mode and stealth mode slide around town on electric power alone for a range of up to 60 km. That’s more than before.

The plug-in hybrid models in the new BMW 3 Series owe their increased electric range to the latest advances in battery cell technology. Their lithium-ion batteries, designed specifically for each model and manufactured by the BMW Group, have a gross energy content of 12.0 kWh.

Using the electric range is best suited to low speed driving in town or short commutes, as the battery power will drain more rapidly at high speeds on the motorway for example. But I was lazy with the charging and still managed to post a good return on economy of 6.4 litres per 100 km.

It takes between 3 and 6 hours to charge the battery to full, depending on type of connection.

The 3 Series is a fun sports saloon
The 3 Series is a fun sports saloon

Did you like it?

BMW’s compact executive saloon gains even more power and flexibility in the 330e. The 330e gives options as we transition to more electrification, but even if you are not a frequent charger, the car performs on fuel like a decent petrol car.

There is an impressive fluidity to this car on the road, aided by the electric motor. Maybe not quite as sharp as a 320d for example. But it is a sporty car with a firm enough set up on the road.

It’s indeed a beautiful car, particularly in M Sport trim. We love the high quality interior, and that very meaty steering wheel.

The 3 Series is a legend and deservedly so!

The BMW 330e is a plug-in hybrid offering an all-electric drive up to 60 km
The BMW 330e is a plug-in hybrid offering an all-electric drive up to 60 km

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: BMW 3 Series 330 e M Sport
Price: 
€49,082
Engine: 
2.0-litre petrol electric hybrid
Power: 292 PS
Torque: 420 Nm
Top speed: 230 km/h
Acceleration (0-100 km/h): 5.8 seconds
CO2 emissions: 
34 g/km
Motor Tax: 
€140 per year