The next generation of the BMW 3 Series Limousine is just completing the crucial stages on the way to serial production maturity. There was only one possible setting when it came to driving dynamics testing and set-up runs: the legendary Nordschleife at Nürburgring. Test runs at the “Green Hell” traditionally serve as an endurance test for the drive and suspension technology of newly developed BMW models.
A particularly extensive testing programme was developed for the camouflaged prototypes of the new BMW 3 Sedan. After all, the comprehensive renewal of the wheel suspension, steering, damping/suspension and brakes provided the developers with a broad range of opportunities to optimise ride comfort and dynamic performance, enabling the ultimate sports sedan for the mid-range premium segment to mature lap by lap.
In terms of the engine portfolio, one particularly striking feature is a thoroughly revised 4-cylinder petrol engine. It is the most powerful 4-cylinder engine ever to be fitted in a BMW series production model. Yet its fuel consumption figures are still some 5 per cent below those of the predecessor engine: one contributing factor here is the further developed 8-speed Steptronic transmission. What is more, a particulate filter optimises the emissions response of the new engine, enabling it to meet the Euro 6d-TEMP exhaust standard.
Long known for its diversity, the track layout of the Nürburgring Nordschleife quickly transpired as the perfect setting for selective refinement of the interaction between the new damping technology and the other suspension components. “We’re using the lift-related dampers as an active set-up element so as to create supreme driving properties in all conditions,” explains Peter Langen, Head of Driving Dynamics. “With short spring travel, a sensitive damping response ensures comfortable vibration compensation. When the car passes over large bumps, the body movements are controlled by increased damping forces.”
The lift-related dampers are a standard feature of the suspension technology in the new BMW 3 Series Sedan. In a specific set-up they also form part of the M sports suspension, which additionally includes a lowering of 10 millimetres, 18-inch light alloy wheels and mixed tyres. This provides a boost to driving dynamics – something that can be experienced more intensely than ever before.
In order to further reinforce the car’s dynamic characteristics, the new M sports suspension is offered solely in combination with the Variable Sports Steering. In addition to the speed-related steering assistance Servotronic, this also provides a variable steering ratio. Variable Sports Steering has also been specially reconfigured for the new BMW 3 Series Sedan.