That change was coming. BMW held out with three pedals and a self-shifter in the 3 Series for longer than its rivals, but now in all models it is replaced by the ubiquitous Steptronic eight-speed automatic, with all versions getting steering column paddles.
There are just two levels, Sport and M Sport, and two BMW Performance models, which all sounds sporty enough but this refresh does suggest a subtle shift of emphasis towards ease of use, efficiency and connectivity. Think ‘ultimate driving machine’ whose headline ability is to park itself, or drive itself backwards for 50 metres.
You can choose from six engines, four petrol and two diesel. Outputs range from 184PS (135kW) in the entry 320i to 374PS (275kW) in the top 340i. There’s one plug-in hybrid in the new range, the 330e, while both diesels get 48v mild hybrid tech and unsurprisingly the best (theoretical) economy and lowest CO2.
An early pick for best model is the 330i, the most powerful of the four-cylinder petrol variants and available with rear-wheel drive. BMW says its 2.0-litre TwinPower Turbo engine has been comprehensively updated with integrated exhaust manifold and upgraded turbocharger. Power is now 258PS (210kw) with 400Nm (295lb ft) of torque from as low as 1,550rpm. Zero to 62mph is despatched in 5.9 seconds.