BMW M3 CSL (E46)
BMW has insisted the 2019 3-Series will be a return to form for the benchmark sport sedan. And no one is more confident than BMW research and development chief, Klaus Fröhlich.
In fact, Fröhlich is fed up with automotive media claiming BMW’s old cars are better machines. Australian publication Motoring reported Tuesday that the R&D boss said the G20-generation 3-Series “has to beat everybody” in the segment. Driving dynamics were of utmost importance when developing the sedan because “all the Australian, UK and American journalists say ‘ooh the E46 CSL was the last real 3 Series’,” Fröhlich said.
He added, “I do not want to hear that shit anymore.”
The 2019 3-Series underwent extensive Nürburgring testing as BMW honed the car’s new CLAR architecture. The modular platform reduces weight by 120 pounds, provides a wider track, a 0.4-inch lower center of gravity, and increased rigidity. Fröhlich quoted 30 percent more overall stiffness and 50 percent more stiffness between the bulkhead and front axle.
The new 3-Series introduces standard passive dampers that change their level of damping based on spring travel. An optional M suspension further increases damping forces by 20 percent. Optional active dampers also trickle down from Rolls-Royce and use GPS technology to adjust damping to the road ahead. However, 3-Series product manager Stephan Horn said the base suspension is so good that the active dampers aren’t necessary.
2019 BMW 3-Series
Fröhlich said the work on honing the dynamics has created a car that can be driven fast but remain comfortable.
Although sales of the 3-Series have declined over the years, Fröhlich called the car BMW’s most important vehicle. He said the 3-Series is “from the heart of the brand” because it mixes luxury, dynamics, and performance in a high-volume model.
“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,” he said. “This is a multiplier and it’s sporty.”
The new 3-Series will face some tough competition from Europe, Japan, and U.S. automakers who have all upped their game in recent years as it prepares to launch next year. And soon thereafter, the G20 3-Series will spawn an all-new M3.