“I do not want to hear that shit anymore!” declares BMW development boss
Kampala, Uganda | AGENCIES | Negative media reviews of recent BMW 3 Series generations have motivated the German car-maker to aim for new driving benchmarks with its latest mid-size luxury sedan.
Speaking at the Paris motor show recently, where the new BMW 3 Series sedan made its global debut, the company’s development chief Klaus Frohlich said the latest G20 version had to be the best driving car in its class.
“It has to beat everybody in the segment in driving dynamics because all the Australian, UK and American journalists say ‘ooh the E46 CSL was the last real 3 Series’,” Frohlich told motoring.com.au.
“I do not want to hear that shit anymore.”
The seventh-generation BMW 3 Series sedan reaches markets in the first quarter of 2019. The 320d and 330i will be the first models on offer, followed later in the year by the M340i and 330e petrol-electric hybrid.
A new BMW 3 Series Touring wagon is imminent internationally and a new 4 Series Coupe, Gran Coupe and Convertible will also follow the sedan onto the market, as will the high-performance M3 and M4.
However, the high-riding 3 Series GT has been axed.
Faced with increased dynamic competition in recent years from the likes of the Jaguar XE and Alfa Romeo Giulia – as well as its traditional rear-wheel drive rival the Mercedes-Benz C-class — BMW has made numerous changes to the new 3 Series.
The most fundamental is the adoption of the stiffer new CLAR — or cluster — architecture, a reduction in weight up to 55kg despite the new generation car being bigger than its predecessor, a 10mm lower centre of gravity, wider tracks and the adoption of new passive dampers which BMW variously dubs stroke-dependant, travel-dependant or lift-related.
Frohlich said the work on dynamics had achieved the intended results.
“First thing and this is for me the most important thing; you can drive fast and completely relaxed. You don’t feel how fast you are.
“Second thing and this thing is a big achievement; this car is much more valuable, it has much better materials and it is solid like a rock.
“From the comfort it is more like a 5 Series, because this cluster architecture is so, so stiff; for example 50 per cent stiffness increase between front axle and bulkhead, 30 per cent overall stiffness [increase].
“You do not only feel it in driving, you feel it in ride comfort.”
Frohlich made it clear that the 3 Series remains the most important model in the entire BMW line-up, even though its sales have been diluted by spinning off the 4 Series and the rise of SUVs.
“I think it is about what is the brand standing for,” declared Frohlich.
“I think as a company BMW has a big history of compact four-seaters with a lot of power — 1600, 2002, the first 3 Series, the 323 with two exhaust pipes. This is BMW still in the minds of many people.
“Commercially for example the 5 Series is I think a bigger contributor; for example in China we would sell millions of cars of that type.
“But from the heart of the brand [the 3 Series] is still the most important car. It is the right mixture of having the character and having the volume. You can have a super-sharp brand shaper very race equipped, but it will only sell some thousand units — it will not affect the brand.
“This is a multiplier and it’s sporty.”
In a separate interview, BMW 3 Series product manager Stephan Horn said the ability of the new passive damper had prompted discussions about whether BMW would continue to offer adaptive dampers as an option.
“We still have it there because many customers like it and love it but you don’t really need it,” he said.
The new damper, which is standard on 3 Series, has been developed in conjunction with a supplier BMW refused to name.
Meanwhile, another important driver for BMW with its new 3 Series was separating its styling more convincingly from the 5 Series sedan.