The latest generation of the BMW 3 Series is already due for a styling refresh, which may have just been previewed in leaked images posted online. While the model photographed is likely the upcoming Chinese-market 3 Series sedan with some level of electrification—if not fully electric—but we’re likely also getting an early glimpse at the overall styling direction for the 3 Series lineup going forward.
The newly leaked images come courtesy of Cochespias on Instagram, via Motor1, who also shared more leaked images back in December, thankfully show that the new 3 Series (or electric i3) wasn’t inspired by the massive grille on the current 4 Series, instead keeping its conservative kidneys. Those are now represented by glossy panel inserts for improved aerodynamics, since there probably isn’t an internal combustion engine under the hood that needs any cooling, like on the standard 3 Series.
The lower part of the fascia design has been reworked to model more recent, and dramatically-styled, BMW concept cars like the new Concept XM, with larger angular surfacing that geometrically cuts up the front bumper into the new edgy look. At the end of the day it’s a rather reserved refresh, but the car was handsome before, so it doesn’t really need much work.
Lucky for us, this isn’t the first time this refresh has leaked online, as more images popped up earlier back in December, seemingly showing off the same new EV version of the 3 Series sedan.
Confusingly, the sedan is expected to adopt the now-retired BMW i3 name, which used to be assigned to a smaller compact hatchback. This i3 sedan will likely only be marketed in China, to compete with the locally-produced Tesla Model 3 and other EVs in that local market.
The U.S. will get a different replacement for the old i3 hatchback with a model in development dubbed the iX1, alongside the new BMW i4 all-electric sedan that’s now on sale in the U.S., already filling the niche for a 3 Series EV stateside.
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