What is it like on the inside?
Death to gesture control! That’s the big takeaway inside the latest 3 Series. Well, the simply mahoosive, 14.9in infotainment screen and swish BMW Operating System 8 are _meant_ to be the headlines, but BMW’s unashamed U-turn on a piece of technology it attempted to pioneer less than a decade ago feels like a more pressing discussion point.
It’s hard not to love an unabashed change of heart in an industry usually so steadfast on sticking to its guns. BMW has realised that pairing a large-area touchscreen with reasonably intuitive voice control is far better for quickly accessing functions than waving your hands around like you’re attempting an in-seat Macarena.
The fancy screens are fitted at every trim level, too, a 12.3in digital instrument gauge feeding neatly off that billboard screen in the middle. It’s just a shame there’s very little configuration to the dials, which always feels like a missed opportunity. But at least the relatively fixed setup is nice and legible.
The tidied-up interior is pretty pleasing, all told, not least because BMW has kept the rotary knob familiar since iDrive landed two whole decades ago: its last stand, most likely, with new generation models ditching it. Nav is standard but you might be more likely to hook your phone up to the Apple CarPlay or Android Auto.
An eight-speed automatic gearbox is standard across the range and now operates through a small toggle switch rather than an oddly shaped knob. This makes it more laborious to notch the transmission into manual mode, but for most everyday driving, that’ll never be an issue. The short spell of DIY control gifted when you pull on a paddle will be enough for most users.
The interior is nice and roomy – no change on the pre-facelift G20 – and the materials are all up to muster. BMW’s new generation of cars will bring in vegan leather alternatives, but the 3 Series isn’t ready for that kind of transformation just yet. The Touring launches at the same time as the saloon and packs up to 1,510 litres of boot capacity with the seats folded, though you need to slice 90 litres from that if you go for the hybrid.