New look and a pleasure to drive

FACELIFT: The changes are more evolutionary.  Cicra 2008. Pic. Unknown
FACELIFT: The changes are more evolutionary. Cicra 2008. Pic. Unknown

Mabuyane Kekana

Mabuyane Kekana

Despite the collapse of world financial markets and the pinch consumers are feeling, motor makers are still optimistic that things will get better soon.

New cars have not stopped entering the market, including ours, even though things have not been easy.

This month saw new car sales dropping to the levels of 2003. However, experts believe that interest rates will go down by early next year. And, the car industry has not stopped preparing for the future.

Though it is difficult to sell cars this year, BMW has continued its mission to enhance its products.

The motoring media was flown down to Knysna to meet the "new" BMW 3 series.

I would not call it new, it is actually the midlife facelift of the popular German sedan.

There are minor but noticeable changes both in the interior and exterior of the vehicle.

The front has been slightly enhanced while the rear lights have also been changed.

New headlamps, rear lights with new contours characterise the brand's new design language.

The interior displays subtle but noticeable changes.

BMW South Africa's automotive c ommunications manager, Benedict Maaga, said the changes on the car were more evolutionary as opposed to revolutionary. He said a vehicle's midlife change needs just that.

The question still remains if this facelift will manage to win some of Mercedes-Benz C-Class customers.

C-Class sales have taught BMW folk that aloofness does not sell vehicles.

But, there is still hope that when the new 3 series hits the market in about two years it will return to its former fame.

At the launch, the fabulous 335i was there, the 330d and the 320d. I was most impressed with the performance of the 330d engine. It is more refined than any other diesel in this segment.

The smooth acceleration gives one the sense of joy behind the wheel. It drives so well.

Back to the 3 Series range, powerfully taut surfaces and striking character lines dominate the side view of the new 3 Series.

Pricing starts at R286500 for the 320i while 320d sells for R341500.

The 335i standard is priced at R447000. If you need whistles on your 335i be prepared to pay R510600.