As customer preferences have shifted towards SUVs and crossovers in recent years, sales of the BMW 3-Series have been steadily declining. Nevertheless, the sedan remains an important staple in the brand’s luxury range and is set for a significant update to shove it in line with the latest Mercedes-Benz C-Class and Audi A4.
In this set of spy shots, our man with the long lens spotted not one, but three prototypes of the next 3-Series sedan, codenamed G20. In the gallery below, you’ll find the M Sport-equipped model first, followed by the high-performance M340i that’s distinguished by beefier black wheels and brakes, and a base trim model with smaller wheels last.
Oh, yes, it looks just like a mini 5-Series
As we’ve come to expect from BMW’s Russian doll design philosophy, the latest-generation 3-Series will bear a striking resemblance to the current 5-Series. In fact, as these spy shots reveal, it will simply look like a slightly smaller 5-Series from most angles.
With this in mind, we can see an all-too-familiar front fascia beneath the camouflage that incorporates enlarged headlights with a new DRL design. The M340i and the M Sport models get more complex front bumpers with additional (and larger) openings.
The changes don’t stop here. Look at the rear and you’ll notice a comprehensively modified trunk lid with a prominent lip at the rear. The taillights are also different to what we’re accustomed to from a 3er and our sources suggest they will adopt a different graphic set to eventually find its way into other BMW models.
Again, the M340i (pictured above) and the M Sport models get a different bumper at the back along with re-positioned reflectors, while the M340i also stands out thanks to the M550-like exhaust trims and dark alloy wheels, as well as a more lowered suspension.
Sadly, we don’t have any images of the vehicle’s interior. However, a digital gauge cluster like that from the 5-Series should be present but for the most part, don’t expect any evolutionary changes that make the cabin as plush as the C-Class.
Three, Four And Six-Cylinders
Based on BMW’s latest CLAR (cluster architecture) platform found on all their recent models, the new, lighter 3-Series will continue with 3-cylinder engines on their base offerings, albeit not in North America, where it will be sold exclusively with four- and six-cylinder units.
In Europe and other markets, we’ll see the entry-level petrol and diesel models (316i and 316d) sharing the group’s familiar (from other models like the 2-Series and MINIs) 1.5-liter 3-cylinder units.
As with the current car, a wide assortment of 2.0-liter four-cylinder gasoline and diesel units will account for the bulk of sales for the 3-Series, delivering up to around 260 horses. We’ll also see at least two plug-in hybrid models, based on the 1.5-liter and 2.0-liter engines.
BMW’s M Performance arm will develop two models, the Mercedes-AMG C43-competing M340i (available with xDrive too – though, we don’t know at this point which version will come to the States) with a 360hp 3.0-liter turbocharged inline-six gasoline engine, and the M340d xDrive, set to get a 320 horsepower 3.0-liter twin-charged straight-six diesel. A purebred M3 model with a 500hp straight-six featuring water injection will top the range.
The overhauled BMW 3-Series should be revealed before the year is out.