The new BMW 3 Series!

BMW 3 Series (2020) Review

The new BMW 3 Series!
The new BMW 3 Series!

Caroline drives the new BMW 3 Series!

The BMW 3 Series is an icon that doesn’t need much to sell itself. It’s long been hailed as the sportiest compact executive saloon in its class, exalted for its playful rear wheel driving dynamics and high-end build and refinement.

Now the BMW 3 Series is in its 7th generation and it’s a gentle evolution of a familiar and popular car. You don’t mess with an icon like the 3 Series.

BMW 3 Series Video Review

What's new for the 2020 BMW 3 Series?

The new 3 Series was five years in development and BMW says that the focus for this new generation has been sportiness, innovation and design. Proportions have been revised, there’s a wider track and a longer wheelbase. These all impact on the visual appeal of the car and a new design language focuses on clean, precise lines. The design is comfortingly familiar yet modernised in line with the latest BMW ‘look’.

The 2020 BMW 3 Series is on sale in Ireland priced from €44,115. The new 3 Series is available in three trim levels: SE, Sport and M Sport.

Trim elements differ depending on specification and the 3 Series is in its sportiest incarnation in M Sport trim. The car sits 10 mm lower and there are large air intakes at the front as well as a redesigned front bumper, side skirts and rear apron. The kidney grille is finished in high gloss black. The stunning new Portimao Blue metallic is also a unique colour option for the M Sport model.

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

The interior of the new 3 Series

Inside the 3 Series gets a smart new interior very fitting of a junior executive car. There is a fine mix of materials and the quality is excellent throughout. The M Sport model adds sports seats to the specification, as well as an ‘M’ leather steering wheel, anthracite-coloured headliner, and full leather interior with heated front seats.

Cabin comfort for passengers has been improved with more shoulder room in the front and extra legroom in the back. Getting in and out of the car is easier for the rear passengers because the door aperture height has been increased. The boot has a capacity of 480 litres, while new partitioning into a primary luggage compartment and separate storage compartments has created an additional 36 litres of space.

There’s also a welcome addition of new technology features including a new digital instrument cluster as standard. The M Sport model gets the impressive 10.3-inch central instrument cluster and BMW’s brand new Operating System 7.0 with the Intelligent Personal Assistant.

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 3 Series range starts from €44,115 in Ireland
The 3 Series range starts from €44,115 in Ireland

What are my options?

Engine options for the new 3 Series include the 318d and 320d (diesels available from €44,115) and the 320i and 330i (petrols available from €44,155). A new 330e plug-in hybrid is also available from €51,475. A six-speed manual gearbox is also available on some models, as is the BMW xDrive all-wheel-drive system.

My test car was a classic 320d M Sport, four-cylinder diesel engine with 190hp and an 8 speed automatic gearbox with a list price of €52,410. The 2.0-litre diesel engine has been upgraded and it now includes multi-stage turbocharging to improve efficiency across all engine speeds. On the road, the new 320d is a gem and one of the best diesel saloons on the market. It’s smooth and refined with plenty of power and torque. Acceleration is brisk with the 0 to 100 km/h sprint achieved in just 6.8 seconds with the automatic gearbox.

BMW has also made significant improvements to aerodynamics reducing the drag coefficient of the BMW 320d for example from 0.26 to 0.23 with measures such as an almost completely sealed underbody, aerodynamically optimised wheels, the use of Air Curtains at the front and the latest generation of active air flap control, which extends across the BMW kidney grille and lower air intake. Over a week of driving my fuel consumption averaged at 5.7l/100km and motor tax for this model is €200 per year.

Rear legroom in the new 3 Series
Rear legroom in the new 3 Series

On the road in the new BMW 320d

This all knits very well with the 3 Series’ natural dynamic appeal. BMW set out to improve the handling of the 3 Series even more in this new generation of the car by increasing the track front and rear and making the whole car stiffer and more rigid while also shedding 55kg of body weight. This translates to a tactile feeling on the road that is unmatched by rivals for driver appeal. The steering is meaty and ultra precise while the whole car stays perfectly balanced and aligned through tight cornering.

Despite sporty enhancements for the M Sport model (19” alloys option on test car and sports suspension), by and large the ride is fine, though some way off the slinky ride of an Audi A4. For M Sport models, buyers can specify the Adaptive M suspension that alters damping characteristics between more comfortable and sporty driving modes.

The BMW 3 Series is an icon, a hugely desirable car among its legion of fans. It still sets the benchmark for handling in its class, defining what’s possible from the compact executive sports saloon. The interior gets a welcome addition of new technology features that keep it competitive among rivals. The 320d is a fine example of a diesel saloon with class leading refinement and splendid power. Welcome back 3 Series!

The BMW 3 Series is an icon, a hugely desirable car among its legion of fans.
The BMW 3 Series is an icon, a hugely desirable car among its legion of fans.

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: BMW 320d M Sport Saloon Automatic
Price:
€52,410
Engine: 2.0-litre turbo diesel
Power: 
190 hp
Torque: 400 Nm
0-100km/h: 
6.8 seconds
Top speed: 240 km/h
Fuel economy:
4.4-4.7 l/100km
CO2 emissions:
112 g/km
Motor tax: 
€200 per year


The new Mazda MX-5 30th Anniversary edition!

Mazda MX-5 30th Anniversary Review

The new Mazda MX-5 30th Anniversary edition!
The new Mazda MX-5 30th Anniversary edition!

The Mazda MX-5 turned 30 in 2019 and to celebrate, Mazda has produced a limited edition 30th Anniversary model. Only 3000 will be made and distributed worldwide with just ten of those cars making their way to Ireland. In December I had the pleasure of spending a week with car #16 of that limited production run.

Finished in exclusive Racing Orange paint, the Mazda MX-5 30th Anniversary edition is a showstopper. Priced from €40,995, this model now sits at the very top of the range and is a significant investment over the entry level MX-5 (available from €28,195). But it’s special y’know.

Only 3000 models will be distributed worldwide
Only 3000 models will be distributed worldwide

So what's so special about the Mazda MX-5 30th Anniversary?

The orange paintwork and 2.0-litre petrol 184 hp engine are non-negotiable. Yes, the MX-5 30th Anniversary edition gets by default the more powerful engine in the range - the 2.0-litre petrol engine has been improved to output more power – up from 160 hp to 184 hp – since we last tested the MX-5 in 2017. This is paired to an ultra-precise and mechanical feeling six-speed manual gearbox. Bilstein dampers, a strut-brace and limited slip differential mean best possible performance from the tiny two seat roadster.

Other special features include exclusive 17" wheels, orange brake calipers with Nissin brakes on the rear and Brembo brakes on the front wheels, and a 30th Anniversary badge displaying the model’s serial number. It’s one very cool looking machine.

The interior of the MX-5 30th Anniversary
The interior of the MX-5 30th Anniversary

What's the MX-5 30th Anniversary like inside?

The black interior has been laced with orange trim for a modern, youthful feel. There’s orange piping on the Recaro seats with Alcantara trim, orange trim around the air vents and on the inside door panels, steering wheel, dashboard and gear lever. The infotainment screen is controlled via steering wheel mounted controls and a rotary controller on the centre console. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto come as standard.

The cabin of the MX-5 is snug and sporty. You’ve got to enjoy tight spaces. Feet stretched out in front of you on the pedals, press the start button to fire up the engine, left hand on the gear shifter as you slot the car into first gear…there’s a tactile, raw feeling to the Mazda MX-5 that stays for the entire journey.

The Mazda MX-5 30th Anniversary is available from €40,995
The Mazda MX-5 30th Anniversary is available from €40,995

Driving it

A perfectly balanced chassis translates to lightening quick steering and chassis responses in corners that account for the magic feeling only a true sports car like the MX-5 can give you. This car flows through corners with just delicate movements on the steering wheel and a lightness of touch that's absolutely thrilling when the roads get twisty and you give it a bit more throttle. Sitting so close to the ground means you feel like you're flying all the time. There’s lots of engine noise through the gear changes and the lack of refinement from the fabric roof just adds to the atmosphere.

This is a stiff set-up and can be teeth jangling on very rough roads. Over a week of driving my fuel consumption averaged at 6.1 l/100 km, which is remarkably good.

The Mazda MX-5 is a wonderful sports car for people who love driving for the fun of it. It's small, a bit uncomfortable at times...but I doubt you will ever regret buying it other than the day you are asked to do an airport run.

You do pay a premium for the 30th Anniversary model but the orange theme adds a surprising amount of energy. A fantastic birthday makeover for an icon!

Caroline says sayonara from the cabin of the MX-5 30th Anniversary - we have our memories

Caroline says sayonara from the cabin of the MX-5 30th Anniversary - we have our memories

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Mazda MX-5 30th Anniversary 2.0 Skyactiv-G
Price: 
€40,995
Engine: 2.0-litre petrol
Power: 
184 hp
Torque: 205Nm
0-100km/h:  
6.5 seconds
Top speed: 219 km/h
Economy: 
6.9/100km
CO2 emissions:  
161g/km
Motor tax: 
€570 per year