Thirty eight A4-sized pages of information sum up the BMW 3 Series. That is a lot of paper indeed. But when we know that the changes BMW have made to their brisk selling 3 Series are marginal, you start thinking about rain forests rather than runflat tyres. But it is the runflat rubber that occupies seven paragraphs of the above 38 pages of information. Because it is important to communicate its virtues to a world not yet ready for spare-free motoring. In short, it talks about ‘BMW being the first manufacturer in the world to offer the Runflat System Component (RSC), a tyre safety package meeting both the statistical risk as well as any feeling of apprehension on the part of the driver.’ Oh, heavy stuff then.
It is not over yet. ‘RSC is a combination of RSC tyres on EH2 wheel rims and the TPI electronic warning system. Under loss of pressure, RSC picks up a phone and warns the driver but allows him to continue for a certain distance even when suffering a complete loss of air, the tyres remaining on the rim thanks to the, ahem, rim hump.’ Now let me assure you we are talking tyres and nothing else here. It all gets interesting when you know that these self-supporting tyres can run 50-250 km at a max speed of 80 kph without even the slightest pressure. And then you throw the tyre away and buy a new one.
Why go to such lengths when you can simply carry a spare tyre? Well, now we are talking. BMWs are performance cars and they can do away with the unwanted weight of the spare tyre, car jack and tools. And even more importantly, you won’t have to stop and change tyres by the side of a highway, risking the chance of being eliminated by a lorry. So overall, a good idea.
It has taken me 334 words to reach here. Important, since all the changes for 2008 can be mentioned in another 334 words. But the runflat preface was important since one of the biggest worries for 3 Series owners was the ride quality offered by the said tyres in conjunction with BMW’s rough road package. Or at least that is what I thought. But a brief drive of the new ‘08 model, which incidentally continue to run on runflats without even a profile change, made me understand that the tyres were not to blame – at least not completely. Model year ‘08 gets a revised suspension package with new dampers and retuned springs. ‘Enough to offer a softer ride but without losing the dynamic virtues of a BMW.’ According to Peter Kronschnabl (he who is so un-German, being a German), ‘a BMW cannot be a lounge car.’ The change in the setting was done in such a way that rear seat passengers got a better ride over bad or rough roads – important move, since 50 per cent of the 3 Series customers in India prefer their cars chauffeur driven. The new 3 rides better, and that to me is the most important change for ‘08.
Then of course there is a new diesel engine that is quieter, more powerful (168 bhp at 4000 rpm) and torquier (34 kgm from around 1750 rpm). Even the small petrol engine gets slightly more power at 154 bhp. The 212 bhp inline-six that powers the 325i continues without change in output. Also available is the 320d Highline model, which features iDrive and television features, a new hi-fi system, blinds for the rear passenger and a small hike in the price range (Rs 30,70,000 ex-showroom). Externally, the ‘08 cars can be identified thanks to the brilliant corona-rings inside the headlamp console (like in the 5 and 7 Series), a new sunroof and new wheel designs that are on offer.
So there, more reasons to covet a BMW 3 Series, and we are not even talking runflats here.