2012 BMW 3 Series Rendered, Three-Cylinder Engine, Eight-Speed Auto Expected: Report

Mike Stevens | Apr 21, 2010

AS ITS MOST popular model, BMW’s 3 Series generates plenty of interest whenever a new model is set to debut. With the next generation due in 2012, it’s no surprise that unconfirmed reports about the car's details are now beginning to circulate.

The lines of the new car are reported to borrow heavily from the latest 7 Series and concept CS to deliver a look that is less-polarising than the current car.

The bonnet and belt-line are expected to sit higher than on the current model, offering improved pedestrian protection, as this rendering of the 2012 3 Series Touring demonstrates.

One possible look at how the new 3 Series might appear.
One possible look at how the new 3 Series might appear.

Tightening emissions and fuel consumption regulations are expected to see the 3 Series debut with a three-cylinder turbocharged engine. Power is expected to be somewhere between 110 to 125 kW with torque figures of around 200 to 300 Nm.

2012 bmw 3 series preview rendering 01

As part of BMW’s EfficientDynamics technologies, the new car will feature an eight-speed automatic transmission, wind-cheating aerodynamics, on-demand electronics and more efficient heating and cooling systems.

One of the new EfficientDynamics features will be an aerodynamic ‘air curtain’. A series of ducts and vents around the bodywork will direct air more cleanly around high-drag areas, such as the car's wheel wells.

The car's construction will benefit from the used of advanced materials and lightweight metals such as aluminium to keep weight to a minimum.

BMW is looking to cut manufacturing costs for the new model. Whether BMW will offer lower specification versions of the new 3 Series is not yet clear, but the aim is to maximise production volumes without increasing cost.

Also under consideration is a slightly less-complex version of the hybrid drive system set to debut in the 7 Series and X6.

While BMW already has a range of fuel-efficient diesel engines on offer, the hybrid option is expected to be aimed primarily at the US market, where diesel take-up rates are lower than in Europe.

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Filed under: Featured, BMW, Latest News, bmw 3-series, 3-series, touring, 2012, three-cylinder, 3 series touring, News, prestige

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  • Charlie says,
    6 years ago
    A 3 cylinder engine. Like the current entry model 3 series wasn't slow enough........
  • Will says,
    6 years ago
    It really depends what displacement and how big the turbo is. However I don't really see it being more efficenty over a decent na 4 cylinder.
  • Godspeed says,
    6 years ago
    I think the idea is that the turbo would be more likely to offer power on demand when it's needed but otherwise off boost the 3 cyl arrangement would provide better economy?

    Not sure how it would fare on the motorway though, because at higher freeway speeds the turbo would likely be spooling anyway.

    It might need to be teamed with at least a 6 speed gearbox with the final gear set quite high...
  • FrugalOne says,
    6 years ago
    EVERY and anybody worth its weight is doing "downsizing", its the way to go without a day, the days of bigger-is-better are over, even our Falcon is getting in on the act.

    FIAT was one of the first, and really taking to the next level with a tiny twin cylinder as in just 2 pistons, 900cc i think, so yeah smaller cc's and smaller size than a V twin Ducati for instance...

    The Alfa Romeo Mito 1400cc/4 with have MultiAir fitted, [first production this September] as will the above mentioned 900cc/2, MultiAir, THE greatest engine development this century thus far...

    What's next, 1 cylinder?


  • Luke Skywalker says,
    6 years ago
    Personally, I don't care how many cylinders it has. If it has the ponies and torque of the 4 cylinder, then I don't see the issue.

    When they talk about an 8-speed gearbox, I assume it'll be one similar to Audi's, which in reality is a stepped CVT? Still, they're not bad. I test drove a couple of Audi A4's last night. Both had the multitronic, as it's called, and the 2.0T diesel was pretty good.
  • John says,
    6 years ago
    1 like
    3 cylinders are badly balanced motors, so there might be a lot of vibration. It is basically half of an inline 6. For the 6 cylinder the vibrations for the front half and rear half of the engine cancel out very nicely including some of the harmonic vibrations. That is why 6 cylinder engines are so smooth. 3 cylinder is worse than 4 cylinder for vibration. Most manufacturers use 4 cylinder engines because of this. So BMW is now in the company with Daihatsu as 3 cylinder engine manufacturer.
  • IBMWNOW says,
    6 years ago
    3 series with 3 cylinders, so 1 series with 1 cylinder??
  • says,
    6 years ago
    I actually like the new look.

    As long as the I6t remains smile.
  • daviepops says,
    6 years ago
    John ... re your comment ... "worse than 4 cylinder for vibration" ... I have recently taken delivery of a Skoda Octavia with a 1.8 TSi 4 cylinder and it's sooooooo vibration free and quiet that every time I stop at traffic lights I start thinking the car has stalled, because it's totally VIBRATION FREE ... so much so that the only way to confirm the motor is actually running is by checking the tacho ... one would assume BMW have done something just as good with a vibration free 3 cylinder development or they would not bring it to market.
  • Wheelnut
    Wheelnut says,
    6 years ago
    I believe Merc-Benz are thinking about dropping the 7-8 speed auto as very few customers have ordered cars with it So why does BMW think their customers would be any different?
    • Devil's Advocate says,
      5 years ago
      Mostly because BMW will not offer a choice and use that transmission as standard. It is actually mentioned in the article that the 8 speed is being used "as part of BMW's EfficientDynamics technologies". IIRC that is what they have done with the X5 as well...
  • Matthew Werner says,
    6 years ago
    1 like
    "a look that is less-polarising than the current car"? It looks like they have taken the Mazda "happy face" and turned it into an "angry retard"
  • laurie says,
    5 years ago
    1 like
    Can they possibly give more room in the back for passengers!
  • Steve Thompson says,
    5 years ago
    Maybe, just maybe the 'Bangle' era will be looked upon in a different light as BMW goes forward with this more conservative styling approach. Boring BMW......
  • 5valvepercylinder
    5 valve per cylinder says,
    5 years ago
    1 like
    Bangle did the worst interpretation on BMW cars, although his surface themes had their good
    points the final look polarized a lot of aficionados and even new buyers to the flock.

    With Adrian van Hooydonk, BMW is quickly going back to their glory days.
    Most definitely sure that ( top ) front com-gen photo will not be the production look of next 3 series.

    I think their 8-speed auto transmission will greatly aid and even-out 3 cylinder's deficiencies.
  • Godspeed says,
    5 years ago
    I think Bangle's philosophy that the cars needed to break the mould and be unconventional, confrontational even, was a sound one.

    The *execution* however, was so flawed. Even now, with many years to let the designs "grow" on you, the proportions of the vehicles (particularly E60 5 Series and E65/66 7 Series) look heavy handed and cumbersome. As you look back through the history of BMW vehicles, their designs have almost always had an air of sleekness and a high level of refinement in the detail. The aforementioned Bangle cars really lack this, with many surfaces looking somewhat "unfinished". I liken it to a diamond cutter's skill. An original 6 series, or 1988-1995 E34 5 Series, are like a brilliant-cut diamond, with many facets all in proportion; whereas an E65 is like something akin to a semi-uncut diamond which might have polished surfaces but few facets and proportions somewhat out of whack.