The new 3-Series achieved five stars for protecting its adult occupants. Its passenger cell remained stable and protected all of its occupants well; the car achieved almost a maximum score in the frontal impact.
An intelligent seat belt reminder is fitted for the driver and passenger. Child protection was good but pedestrian protection was very poor.
The body suffered minimal deformation and the driver’s door opened normally after the impact. The dual-stage airbags, belt pre-tensioners, load limiters and the stable structure worked well, keeping the loads recorded by the adult dummies’ chests and legs low.
There had been much design effort to safeguard the driver’s and front passenger’s knees and upper legs. The footwell suffered little deformation, while extensive foam padding protected the driver’s feet. Finally, control of pedal movement during the impact was good, minimising injury risks.
An impressive side impact protection system includes seat mounted thorax and pelvis airbags and a head curtain airbag, which also protects rear seated occupants. The 3-series just missed obtaining a maximum score in this section of the tests.
The car tested had an optional manual switch for the passenger frontal airbag. Its ‘off’ status’ is shown by a lighted pictogram and message on the overhead display next to the rear view mirror.
Both children were carried in Fair Bimbo Fix child seats, fitted using the ISOFIX anchorages and support legs, the older child forward facing and the younger rear facing. Both were well protected throughout.
There were passenger airbag warning labels in the form of a pictogram label fitted to the passenger door pillar and a text label on the screen. Neither label was permanently attached nor did they warn of the danger of placing a child in a rear facing restraint opposite an active airbag.
The car scored just 4 points out of a possible 36. Only small areas of the bonnet top where an adult’s and a child’s head might strike provided any cushioning. The 3-Series’ bumper and bonnet leading edge gave no measurable protection: overall, a very disappointing result for a new design.