The All-New 2019 BMW 3-Series Will Not Have a Manual Gearbox

BMW's iconic mass-market sedan gets a major overhaul, but for the first time, the 330i and M340i will only be available with an eight-speed automatic transmission.

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BMW

It feels like we've been waiting forever for the 2019 BMW 3-Series. We've seen spy photos and videos of it testing on the Nurburgring for years, but never an actual announcement. Well, that changes today. Meet the all-new seventh-generation 3-Series sedan.

The new design is modestly evolved from the previous model. The look falls in line with the rest of BMW's new-car design language, with headlights that connect to the kidney grilles, and angular halo daytime-running lights. One thing that does stand out is the bottom notch separating the inner and outer elements of each headlight, a new design feature for BMW. The taillights are similar to those found on the new Z4, compressed and sharper than the previous model's units. The trunk lines form a lip spoiler, rounding out the rear nicely. Altogether, the car is 2.9 inches longer, 0.6 inches wider, and 0.5 inches taller than its predecessor. Those aren't crazy numbers, but it's still a reminder that new cars are getting bigger all the time.

The 330i will be the first car to hit US dealerships in March 2019. Available with rear-wheel drive or BMW's xDrive all-wheel drive system, it sports the familiar 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-four, this time around pushing out 255 horsepower and 295 lb.-ft. of torque—seven horsepower and 37 lb.-ft. more than the previous car, thanks to an upgraded direct injection system, a lighter crankshaft, better heat management, and a new engine software management system. An M340i will arrive later in the spring, equipped with the new Z4's turbocharged straight-six producing 382 horsepower and 369 lb.-ft. of torque. It will come standard with a fully variable locking M Sport differential as well as unique M Performance chassis tuning. Equipped with optional xDrive, BMW estimates it will get to 60 mph in just 4.2 seconds. BMW is also planning to launch a 330e hybrid model, set to hit the roads in 2020.

Both engines get power to the ground via ZF's eight-speed automatic transmission. This time around it's equipped with a shift predictability program that uses the car's onboard navigation system to analyze your route and plan shifts accordingly, so you'll always be in the right gear when approaching a turn or going up a hill. The system has been in Rolls-Royces for awhile, and now it's finally starting to trickle down into entry-level BMWs. Launch control will come standard on both trims.

A BMW spokesperson confirmed to Road & Track that the automatic will be the only transmission available in both the 330i and M340i, in all markets worldwide. We've asked whether the yet-to-be-revealed M3 will be available with a manual transmission option, but since there's hasn't been an official announcement on the car, BMW couldn't share any info at this time.

Weight has been cut by as much as 121 pounds over the previous 3-Series depending on trim level, thanks to the use of aluminum front fenders, front struts, front subframe, and hood. The car's aerodynamics have also been improved, from 0.26 Cd to 0.23 on the Europe-only eco version 320d.

One of the biggest changes for the 2019 BMW 3-Series comes in the interior. It's totally refreshed, with a 5.7-inch digital gauge cluster and a redesigned 8.8-inch center infotainment touchscreen. If you get the "BMW Live Cockpit" upgrade, the gauge cluster grows to 12.3 inches and the infotainment screen grows to 10.25 inches. You also get a hard-drive based multimedia system with 20 GB of storage, as well as Apple CarPlay (but no Android Auto) and WiFi. The center console has been redone for a more modern look, with a new gear selector and iDrive controller knob. The steering wheel looks to be lifted directly off the new Z4. The car gets BMW's latest iDrive system and a host of new tech features like automatic anti-collision, automatic braking, adaptive cruise control with stop and go, as well as lane-keeping assist and blindspot monitoring alerts. There's even an optional automatic parking mode that will pull the car into perpendicular or parallel spots for you.

If this 3-Series is anywhere as fun to drive as the last six generations have been, we're in for a treat, though we're moderately disappointed that it won't be available with a manual transmission.

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