Cars & Technology13 Sep 2018

The latest generation of the BMW 3 Series Saloon is entering the final phase of an extensive programme of testing that every new BMW model must go through as part of its pre-production development. Here, the full range of stresses and strains a car will encounter over many years of everyday driving are reproduced in concentrated form.

From extended periods driving flat out to endless stop-start traffic, sub-zero temperatures to searing heat, winding country roads to pothole-infested tracks, ice and snow to gravel and desert sand – the prototypes sent through the test programme have experienced everything their production equivalents will come across in everyday life.

Arjeplog, Sweden.

Arjeplog offers perfect conditions to mirror day-to-day driving in central Europe, North America or Asia. The closed-off expanses of ice offered by Lake Kakel and the “Mellanström-Runde”, one of the most popular test routes around Arjeplog, couldn’t be better suited for fine-tuning the DSC stability system and its myriad functions.

Arjeplog, Sweden is the perfect location for cold climate testing

Death Valley, Nevada.

Multi-day heat tests in Death Valley see the cars fried repeatedly in the sun for several hours, then cooled and thoroughly checked over. Everything has to work – even when the temperature tops 50 degrees Celsius in the shade outside the car and 60 degrees inside, and the interior is then cooled again as quickly as possible. The bone-dry desert roads provide an ideal place to find out how effective the cars’ flaps, doors, bonnets and lids are at keeping out dust.

Hoover Dam, Nevada.

The electromagnetic rays emitted by the hydroelectric plant at the Hoover Dam represent the ultimate test of strength for the functional reliability of the electronic systems on board the new 3 Series. This is why all the car’s functions – from the digital instrument cluster to the tyre pressure indicator – are tested extensively in the shadows of the huge forest of electricity pylons on the banks of Lake Mead.

Aerodynamic Test Centre, Munich.

At the BMW Group’s Aerodynamic Test Centre, full-size vehicle models, prototypes and production vehicles are tested using precise reproduction of real-life airflow conditions on the road. At the centre’s wind tunnel, the new BMW 3 Series Saloon has been given the detailed touches required to bring its drag coefficient down to 0.23.

The state-of-the-art wind tunnel optimises aerodynamics

Miramas, Southern France.

The testing programmes at the BMW Group’s test facility in Miramas, southern France are even more extensive. Used by BMW for the development and testing of new models for over 30 years, Miramas has a long asphalt oval, a motorway “ring” for high-speed testing, slalom, twisty and spherical tracks, plus several handling courses and circuits with surfaces of every kind.

Nürburgring’s Nordschleife circuit, Germany.

The acid test for driving dynamics remains at the legendary venue in Germany’s Eifel mountains, where precise tuning of all powertrain and chassis systems is carried out. If a car gets the green light from BMW test engineers at the Nordschleife, you can be confident it will provide driving pleasure in everyday conditions throughout its lifetime.

Aschheim, Germany.

The proving grounds at Aschheim provides the venue for undisturbed dynamic testing. It was here, at an early stage of the development process, where the first steps were taken in imbuing the new BMW 3 Series Saloon with its impressive dynamic potential.

Dynamics testing takes place at the Aschheim proving grounds

Find out more about the current BMW 3 Series here.

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