Further four-cylinder 3 Series variants will follow during the course of 2005
Ensuring that the power and torque remain in check is the responsibility of the new DSC+ system (on six-cylinder models - standard DSC on four-cylinder models). Effectively an evolution of the familiar DSC traction control system, DSC+ offers a range of benefits, including Brake Standby that pre-tensions the brakes when the driver quickly removes the pressure from the accelerator pedal. Soft Stop is also incorporated which modulates the brake application to prevent the nose of the car from ‘diving’ when travelling slowly. Also included in DSC+ is a Start-Off Assistant that uses the clutch to prevent the car from rolling back on a hill-start and a brake detector that ensures the discs are kept dry and responsive on wet roads.
Also assisting the car’s agility is BMW’s Active Steering system, available for the first time in a car of this class. Previously only available on larger 5 and 6 Series models, Active Steering is offered as an option on six-cylinder models and resolves the conflict between low-speed agility and higher-speed stability by delivering a speed-proportional steering ratio. Active Steering also brings a number of key safety benefits. In conjunction with the DSC+ system, if the car detects oversteer, Active Steering applies a small amount of positive steering angle to bring the rear of the car back into line. Additionally on the new 3 Series, when applying the brakes on a surface with differing grip levels such as snow or ice, Active Steering intervenes to stabilise the car more precisely and quickly than the driver is able to do manually.
Supporting these steering and traction control systems is a chassis that has been tuned to deliver optimal driving dynamics on all road conditions. With BMW’s trademark front engine – rear-wheel-drive layout and near-perfect 50:50 weight distribution, the new 3 Series feels nimble and agile on the road. Its double-joint spring strut front axle is made completely of aluminium, minimising the unsprung mass of the car and reducing road noise. The new five-arm rear axle, first seen on the new BMW 1 Series, delivers excellent ride comfort.
The new 3 Series body is stiffer yet lighter than that of the outgoing model. Thanks to a new joint and crossbar arrangement for the car’s load-bearing structure, the bodyshell stiffness is increased by 25 per cent over its predecessor.
The inherent rigidity of the steel bodyshell enhances the new 3 Series’ class leading safety levels. With the addition of six airbags as standard, including curtain head airbags for front and rear occupants, the car is expected to receive a five-star Euro NCAP rating. It is also one of the first cars in the world that is fully prepared for the rigorous side impact requirements in North America as well as the US high-speed rear impact test.
Also supporting these high standards of safety are a number of familiar systems from other BMW models. Brake Force Display is standard for the first time on 3 Series Saloon models, offering two stage brake lights. Brake lights illuminate normally in average driving conditions but during an emergency stop or when the ABS braking cuts in, the area of brake light illumination increases to warn those travelling behind of the situation ahead.Published 26 October 2004