While we were patiently waiting for BMW to unveil the facelifted 3-Series range, a bunch of photos appeared online thanks to the usual suspect – the Chinese Ministry of Industry and Information Technology. The photos depict both the regular and the extended wheelbase body styles of the China-spec 3-Series, revealing an updated design that will most likely be carried over to the international model sold everywhere else, including North America, Australia, and Europe.
Starting with the front, we were already familiar with the redesigned full-LED headlights from the recently-revealed BMW i3 eDrive35L. However, the bumper of the ICE-powered 3-Series is different from the EV, featuring a larger central intake and thinner L-shaped side intakes with black trim. The grille is also different with either vertical slits or horizontal elements highlighted in chrome.
The profile remains largely unchanged, with the exception of the new wheel designs and new color options. The side sills are another point of differentiation with the electric i3 which features extra inlets behind the front wheels. Moving over at the back, the redesigned rear bumper has a significantly larger diffuser, vertical reflectors surrounded by dark-painted trim, and dual tailpipes with chrome trapezoid outlets being a lot bigger than the actual pipes.
Some of the 3-Series come with sensors on the front intake and a camera on the grille, for the ADAS suite which presumably doesn’t come standard in China. We should note that all of the pictured models are fitted with the M Sport Package, thus the M badge on the front fenders. This means we should see a slightly different bumper design on the regular trim levels. We also expect an even sportier-looking 3-Series fitted with optional M Performance parts, as hinted by our spy shots.
The 3-Series measures 4,728 mm (186.1 inches) long in regular form, with a wheelbase of 2,851 mm (112.2 inches). The 3-Series Li measures 4,838 mm (190.5 inches) long with an extended wheelbase of 2,961 mm (116.6 inches). These figures are very similar but not identical to the i3 eDrive35L.
While we don’t have access to pictures of the interior, the facelifted 3-Series range will most likely inherit the new curved display from the i3 eDrive35L seen above, incorporating the digital instrument cluster and the infotainment touchscreen which will be running on the latest Operating System 8.
According to the spec sheet, the 3-Series will be available in China with three gasoline powertrains. The 320i produces 154 hp (115 kW / 156 PS), the 325i makes 181 hp (135 kW / 183 PS), and the 330i gets 241 hp (180 kW / 245 PS). In Europe and North America, the powertrain range will definitely include more electrified options including mild hybrids and plug-in hybrids, alongside the diesel-powered variants which will likely live on for a few more years. In the States, we expect the range to mirror the current model with a 2.0-liter turbocharged four for the 330i and the hybridized 330e, and a 3.0-liter twin-turbo straight-six for the M340i.
The debut of the updated 3-Series will take place sometime in the coming months, with a market launch in late 2022. Besides the sedan, the Touring bodystyle is also going to receive similar updates for the markets where it is available (aka outside of North America).