BMW’s new 3 Series set for Paris debut

All-important new model will feature two plug-in electric variants and a full-electric version

The world’s carmakers are abandoning the Paris motor show at an unprecedented rate - but not BMW

The world’s carmakers are abandoning the Paris motor show at an unprecedented rate - but not BMW

 

The world’s carmakers are abandoning the Paris motor show at an unprecedented rate - but not BMW.

While the Volkswagen, Opel, Nissan and Volvo brands have pulled out of the biennial show, BMW will use it as a platform to launch the most important model on its books.

The next generation of the 3-Series will make the critical move to the larger CLAR architecture, which debuted with the 5-Series and X3 models.

The shift will allow the 3-Series to use the same all-electric powertrain and battery pack as the upcoming i4 electric car, earning itself an i badge to call its own.

BMW will hint at the strength of the 3-Series’ electric future with two plug-in hybrid versions early in its production cycle before unleashing the full electric version in time for the tighter EU7 emissions rules in 2020.

The first of the plug-in hybrids will run the Mini Countryman plug-in hybrid (PHEV) powertrain, which combines a 1.5-litre, turbocharged petrol engine with an electric motor.

A more powerful PHEV should use a 2.0-litre turbo petrol motor in concert with a more powerful electric motor and could even use a 330e badge.

The full BEV 3-Series should arrive in time for the Ionity European charging network (which BMW is a founding partner of) to hit a critical mass of recharging stations.

The powertrain layout is based on the Vision Dynamics concept car from last year’s Frankfurt motor show and should deliver about 700km of pure electric range per charge.

It will also run a wide array of three-, four- and six-cylinder petrol and diesel engines, though most models will rely heavily on the eight-speed, ZF automatic transmission. All-wheel drive will remain an option.

Six-cylinder engines are likely to be only available on the top-spec 340i in both petrol and diesel forms, while the M3, due around 2020, will borrow heavily from the switchable all-wheel drive of the M5.