2012 BMW 3 SERIES
BMW's all-new 2012 3 Series has been revealed in Munich today, marking the sixth generation of the carmaker's most important model.
Approach the new midsized sedan from the side and you would be forgiven for seeing the outgoing model's shape in the profile of the new 'F30' 3 Series.
Here's a few quick points of difference: there's a sharper and longer character line running from the front wheel arch through to the rear tail-light - which also extends further into the rear quarter panel than before. There's also a more coupe-like rear deck with a prominent upkick in the boot lid.
Move around to the front, and it quickly becomes clear that this is an all-new car.
The new model is also a good deal larger than the outgoing 'E90' 3er, growing in length by nearly 100mm and riding on a 50mm longer wheelbase.
The front and rear tracks are also wider, up 37 and 47mm respectively.
Despite all of this, the new model - depending on specification - is up to 50kg lighter than its predecessor.
Internationally, the new 3 Series will be offered with four engines from launch: two petrol and two diesel. A number of others -including a hybrid - will join the range down the line.
All four launch engines are turbocharged, and available with either a six-speed manual or - for the first time - an eight-speed automatic.
Petrol - 328i
The petrol pair is kicked off by the 328i, driven by the same turbocharged four-cylinder engine driving the updated 528i. This engine produces 180kW and 350Nm of torque, with a 0-100km/h time of 5.9 seconds (6.1 for the auto).
Fuel consumption for this entry variant is listed at 6.4 l/100km when paired with the six-speed manual and 6.3 l/100km with the auto.
Petrol - 335i
Topping the petrol options is the familiar 335i, driven by a turbocharged inline six-cylinder petrol engine that delivers 225kW and 400Nm of torque - identical to the current model.
The 0-100km sprint is completed in 5.5 seconds (a 0.3s improvement) for both transmissions, while fuel consumption has fallen from 8.7 to 7.9 l/100km for the manual and an even sharper 7.2 l/100km for the automatic.
Diesel - 320d EfficientDynamics
Starting for the diesel duo is the efficiency-focused 320d EfficientDynamics, its four-cylinder diesel and BMW's fuel-saving technologies delivering 120kW/380Nm and a miserly 4.1 l/100km in auto and manual form.
The 0-100km/h sprint for this model is wrapped up in 8.0 seconds.
The EfficienctDynamics features include Brake Energy Regeneration, Optimum Shift Indicator for the manual, on-demand-only operation of ancillary features, electromechanical power steering, low rolling-resistance tyres, a map-controlled air pump and a disengageable air-conditioning compressor.
Diesel - 320d
The regular (and more powerful) 320d utilises a higher tune of the same four-cylinder diesel to produce 135kW and 380Nm of torque.
Fuel consumption for this variant is listed at 4.5 l/100km for the manual and 4.4 for the auto. The 0-100km/h is completed in 7.5 seconds and a hair slower for the auto at 7.6 seconds.
Early in 2012, BMW will flesh out the 3 Series engine range with a trio of entry-level options. These will include the 137kW/270Nm 320i, followed by the 86kW/260Nm 316d and the 106kW/320Nm 318d.
A six-cylinder diesel engine will join the range later down the line (likely the 330d), and an ActiveHybrid 3 will follow, pairing the 225kW six-cylinder petrol engine to a 40kW electric motor.
Suspension for the new 3 Series is managed by a double-joint arrangement at the front, including ultra-light aluminium struts and wishbones designed to reduce unsprung weight.
At the rear is a "refined and revised" version of the outgoing model's multi-link arrangement.
Joining the standard international ES, SE, Sport and M Sport trim grades are two new personalisation lines: Modern and Luxury.
The M Sport package will offer the usual assortment of styling and handling upgrades: stiffer suspension and bracing, 18- and 19-inch alloy wheels, chrome highlights and interior options covered in the M Sport logo.
Standard features across the range will include Bluetooth and USB/iPod connectivity, a 6.5-inch screen connected to the familiar iDrive system, keyless start, a multi-function steering wheel, cruise control and automatic boot opening.
Local dates for the new 3 Series have not been announced, but expect to see it on our roads sometime in the first half of next year.