What it is: The next generation of the quintessential compact sports sedan. BMW has traditionally offered a four-door sedan and a station wagon, but we hope the misleadingly named “Gran Turismo” hunchback will remain without a successor.
Why it matters: The 3-series used to be the car that everyone tried to emulate, but while sales remain strong, it has been surpassed in dynamics, interior quality, and design. With the next gen, BMW has the chance to recapture sports-sedan supremacy. We hear the design will be far more progressive and daring than the current 5- and 7-series, and that’s another step BMW must take.
Platform: Internally called G20, the new 3 will roll on BMW’s new longitudinal-engine platform, internally dubbed CLAR, which stands for “cluster architecture.” It’s lighter than the outgoing model by a good 150 pounds.
Powertrain: Today’s BMW-group engines with more power: 1.5liter threes, 2.0-liter fours with upward of 250 horses, and 3.0-liter sixes with up to 400. The six-speed manual and ZF eight-speed automatic will carry over. The M3, which will produce close to 500 horsepower, will likely keep its seven-speed dual-clutch auto.
Competition: Alfa Romeo Giulia, Audi A4, Cadillac ATS, Infiniti Q50, Lexus IS, Mercedes-Benz C-class.
What might go wrong: If BMW continues to dumb down the driving experience, the 3 will likely become the Toyota Camry of its segment—a strong seller that traded its soul for volume.
Estimated arrival and price: Mid-2018 as a 2019 model, with pricing close to the current generation’s, meaning the poverty model will start in the mid-$30,000s.