New BMW 3-Series (G20) Vs. Its Predecessor (F30): So, Is Newer Better?

What do you think about when you say BMW? Odds are, it’s something associated with sportiness, aggressive looks maybe, a premium image no doubt, and of course tradition. The Bavarian automaker has been making memorable passenger cars for over half a century.

Let’s get more specific though. What model do you feel best represents the people at Bavarian Motor Works? Because if your answer is the 3-Series, then you should know that you’re right. It’s BMW’s best-selling model.

So yeah, the fact that a brand spanking new one just dropped is a pretty big deal for the entire automotive industry, because the 3er has long been the benchmark for sports sedans as far as driving dynamics are concerned – and when you put the ‘Sport’ in sport sedan, you pretty much have a lot of weight on your shoulders to always put your best foot forward.

Recently though, rivals like the Jaguar XE have gotten awfully close to besting the 3-Series at its own game, while the Alfa Romeo Giulia already has, some would say.

Of course, there’s more to a premium product than just driving dynamics. While developing the G20, BMW had to worry about comfort and technology, efficiency, aesthetics and plenty of other aspects that you simply cannot get wrong in what is basically the quintessential Bimmer.

If you read our coverage of the 3-Series’ unveiling, you undoubtedly know that the new G20 is the most advanced 3er ever built, possibly sufficiently so as to edge out Mercedes and Audi when it comes to on-board tech. What about looks though? Do you feel BMW have done the right thing by visually turning the 3-Series into a smaller 5-Series, so to speak?

The G20 looks chunky, but in a good way

During the design process, BMW wanted to make sure its modern appearance would be emphasized by precise and contoured surfaces throughout, while the large kidney grille, new headlight design, new Hofmeister kink and slim L-shaped taillights gave it a whole new dimension compared to its predecessor, the F30.

Compared to the latter, specifically the facelifted version of the F30, the all-new model seems better proportioned. Its front end no longer looks awkward from certain angles (nitpicking), while the profile is a little more imposing thanks to a visibly higher shoulder line.

As for the rear, that’s a different story. If you felt like you don’t recognize this car as a BMW because of its rear end design, we can totally understand where you’re coming from. It’s because of the taillights right? They do look a little Lexus-ish. The F30 on the other hand had actual L-shaped taillights, rather than just L-shaped LED strips.

Clever and comfy

Arguing in favor of the F30’s dashboard design over that of the G20 is very difficult. If you like tech, then rest assured that the older car can’t hold a candle to the new one’s features. Like the Live Cockpit Professional with BMW OS 7.0, or the Intelligent Personal Assistant, larger head-up display, ambient lighting or the 12.3-inch and 10.25-inch displays. And let’s not forget about the interior being more spacious too.

There’s also an electronic parking brake instead of a manual one, plus a completely new door handle design, in case anybody cared about that. No? OK. Moving on.

Altogether, the G20’s dashboard is definitely more modern and if you think it looks like it belongs on a more expensive car, well that’s because it’s basically a less cluttered version of the latest G30 5-Series’ dash.

Worth trading up?

It’s probably current F30 3-Series owners who can best answer this question. In case some of you are in a position to consider moving on from an F30 to a G20, then tell us, would you do it?

Financially, it would be no small thing, as used F30 models have depreciated heavily these past couple of years. But if you really like what BMW have done with the new 3-Series, we reckon buying one would be a tough thing to resist, seen as how this should be the most technologically-advanced car in its class.

 

  • Ermal Morina

    the interior is miles ahead of it’s predecessor

  • Denzel

    Def gives a Lexus vibe from the rear

    • MultiKdizzle

      I see Audi S3 sedan

    • Exactly, I thought I was crazy for seeing a bit of Lexus.

  • SkyBill40

    The interior is improved, yes. The exterior is in the eye of the beholder for the most part and I’m not really high on either one though the G20 is a bit nicer in certain aspects.

  • Too much of a kink is never bad thing.

  • TrevP

    We had an F30 3 series before we got an F25 X3, and I really enjoyed the 3 series, i don’t think i would want to get this G20 model tho. I think this X3 will be our last BMW

  • MonkeyRider

    New 3 is not any better than current IMO.
    Also new 3 doesn’t look like German car but more like American+Japanese.

    • Joe E

      Good point on the American + Japanese aspect. This G20 has the aggressive, brash and bling-y styling of an American car combined with the fussy details of a Japanese car (e.g. Civic bumper). German styling traits (stoic, understated) seem to have disappeared. Audi is trending in this direction as well.

    • Matt

      Yes, I see it in aspects of the interior design the most (besides the tail lights)Alot of sharp angles reminds me of cadillac/ford. The passenger airvents looks very Fusion like, door handles similar to honda/toyota.

      I’m warming up to some of it but by far the worst part of the design imo is the fog light housing. Hideous on all trims they’ve shown.

    • Nordschleife

      I would’ve said German/Japanese

  • Zandit75

    I think this is a huge improvement on the old model. The interior especially is a much better looking environment, and much more cohesive. Outside, every change is an improvement in my eye. I especially like how the bonnet reaches the grille edge now, instead of a straight line above the grille.

    • OdysseyTag

      My thoughts aswell.

  • F30 exterior, G20 interior for me

  • Dansk

    I like the exterior although the rear and side profile gives me Lexus vibes! I think the interior looks cheap I don’t like that huge cover over the cup holders! NOT A FAN!

  • enthusia

    i’m indifferent towards the new model, but seeing it compared to the outgoing model? its far superior. especially the interior, which on its own really isn’t that interesting, but at least its different and modern. man, the f30’s interior did not age well.

  • Six Thousand Times

    I’m OK with the evolutionary change. The proof of the bimmer will be in the driving, though. The new car is lighter and they say BMW have gone back to sporting dynamics from the soft, cosseting luxury of the current 3er. We shall see.

  • DLu

    If rumors about the G20’s improved “sportiness” hold true, then it is definitely worth the trade, IMO.

    I had a 2017 340i with M Sport package and manual. I found the 340 to be unbearably bad in the steering department. Whereas the E90 made you feel, even at legal (slow) street speeds, like you are a driving hero and it was eager to attack corners, the F30 was just aloof. I mean, it stuck like “it was on rails”, but you have to push it a lot (not that I’ve ever done it, ahem, but double to triple the speed limit) to make it feel alive. I took the hit on depreciation and dumped it a year later.

    If you approach it from a mindset of, “I need a luxury sedan that’s fast and I have to have a manual,” then the F30 is a fantastic car. I, however, wanted to fulfill my E90 dreams but didn’t want any used high-mile examples — and manuals are impossible to find!

  • Six_Tymes

    New is much better in and out, and weighs less

  • designer_dick

    The interior architecture is a vast improvement, but certain aspects of the exterior seem off, like the massive grille, Peugeot 308 inspired headlights, and the new intepretation of the Hofmeister kink.

  • Unplugged

    I will move to the Tesla Model 3. It’s literally the future, while BMW is still reworking the past.

  • New one is surely a better car, interior wins, but the outside? The F30 exterior is still modern, yet more classic sedan proportions ans will probably age better. Never looked old to me, and still doesn’t for the exterior compared to the G20.
    To me me it’s like the new Iphone vs the new one.

    • Eivind Brækkan Engstad

      F30 look way better in any direction if you ask me. if you look at it from the side the front wheel arch on the f30 with the lights and wheels looks much nicer.

  • Yishay

    Honestly, other than the interior they both look roughly the same. Refreshed, perhaps but Definitely not extraordinary.

    Y A W N

  • Anthony Oden

    I think it would have been a better Apples to Apples comparison had you used the body images configuration of the f30 M sport package. The G20 images are of the M sport, the f30 is a standard non-m config. I’m aware of this because I own both f30 sport and non sport configurations in Diesel.

  • Raul

    These peons here say this new one is boring, ugly, or even dated, this car is still going to sell no matter what. I bet majority of these people here are poor and broke at the same time while they can only afford a damn toyota yaris or a damn unreliable jeep or ford.

  • Toronado_II

    I like it even if the bumper are overornate and there is no stick anymore (design for my aunts and not for drivers). I’ll wait to see the 4 Grand coupe. This one is, at my humble opinion, what the 3 series should be…

  • I like it.

  • Bobbie Brighto

    The G20 3-series exterior is also miles ahead of it’s past two predecessors. The new design style is finally coming into its own instead of the sagging fat blob that it was.

    The E46 was part of a different generation pre-plastic panels which still manages to be miles ahead of this one in the looks department. That one unequivocally belongs in a museum (at least the E46 M3). These new one? Not so much.

  • Astonman

    In rear comparison, the F30 looks to be thicker and sits higher compared to the new G20. What a difference how great designs will fool the eyes.

  • George Bailey

    I’ll keep my E90, thank you. I was never a fan of the exterior design of the F30 and see it as a step backward. The G20’s proportions look better than the F30 but the car looks like it was designed by committee. The “new” Hofmeister Kink is over-designed and self-conscious (look at me, I’m different) as is the future M3 engine vent seam on the lower side front fender. I love the new interior but the air vents, especially the center ones, seem to be set too low. This thing is as big as my E39 5er and not as pretty. No manual transmission is a dealbreaker.

  • Miknik

    SIdeview is nearly identical, and front and rear end look less BMW to me (especially the rear end which says Lexus).
    Inside is an improvement, but I’m not sure about the rather tiny HVAC buttons

  • DJ

    may as well be an infinity,lexus,Acura. The grill isn’t even kidney shaped anymore. : (

  • Tumbi Mtika

    I’ll take the Alfa. Or an E90. I hear those have manuals.

  • Undisputed Navy✓ᵛᵉʳᶦᶠᶦᵉᵈ

    Looks stunning to me!

  • Kagan

    Manual gearbox and handbrake!!!!

  • fgclolz

    Not a big fan of either. The ones that preceded them looked way better!

  • Rollan Enriquez

    I’m happy with my F30 335i M Sport. It’s made in Germany, and perfect in stock form. Will it be an obstacle to get a G20 that’s made in Germany? I wouldn’t want one that’s made in Mexico, or China.

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