This week BMW launches its updated 3 Series range, launching with a range of new four and six-cylinder engines, to be joined by a new three-cylinder that revives the 318i badge and takes the place of the previous 316i
The 328i and 335i badges have been retired too, replaced by 330i and 340i nameplates that reflect their increased power outputs and performance.
Along with the new name tags, new front and rear bumpers, LED headlights and taillights, and a range of new alloy wheel designs are also part of the upgrade.
The price of entry to the range has risen to $54,900, an increase of $1100 over the 136i it replaces. To offset the difference the standard features list has been plumped up.
At the opposite end of the scale, the 340i sedan costs $89,900, which represents a reduction of $3140 against the 335i that it supersedes, while adding extra equipment and offering increased power and torque outputs.
BMW Australia has sharpened the value equation by adding 18-inch alloys, live traffic updates, BMW's ConnectedDrive Lifestyle connectivity suite and LED headlamps as standard to the 318i
That’s in addition to added equipment ushered in in the first quarter of this year, which saw every model in the 3 Series range equipped with a head-up display, satellite navigation, surround-view parking cameras, lane departure warning and autonomous emergency braking.
Additionally, the 320i and 320d now gain a DAB+ digital radio tuner and electric front seats with driver's memory as standard.
Meanwhile the 330i's spec sheet is largely identical to the outgoing 328i. Though it doesn't gain any equipment in this update it does pick up a $500 price-drop to rest at $69,900.
The 340i is also cheaper than the car it replaces, but it scores a slew of new equipment to boot. Heated seats, LED headlamps, LED foglamps, active cruise control, parking assistant and internet connectivity are now standard features, making the 340i a sharp deal at $89,900.
The 1.5 litre three-cylinder of the 318i is a modified version of that used by the 2 Series Active Tourer and various MINI models, turned 90 degrees to take power to the rear wheels via an eight-speed automatic.
Power outputs for the new three-cylinder are identical to the old 316i's turbo four, at 100kW and 220Nm. Fuel economy improves by 0.8 l/100km to sit at 5.4 l/100km on the combined cycle.
Moving up the range, the 320i continues to make 135kW and 270Nm from its 2.0 litre turbocharged petrol inline four, with fuel consumption dropping slightly to 5.8 l/100km on average.
The 320d's outputs are also unchanged at 140kW and 400Nm, though like the 320i a modest improvement in efficiency sees consumption fall to 4.4 l/100km
To herald the arrival of BMW’s new-generation modular 2.0 litre four-cylinder engine the 328i badge is replaced by the 330i. Power rises by 5kW to 185kW, peak torque remains at 350Nm and the 0-100km/h dash is done is a very respectable 5.8 seconds.
But the real performance star is the 340i. It's the first application of BMW's all-new B58 3.0 litre straight-six, and though it shares the same capacity as the 335i's N55 engine it's based on an entirely new modular engine architecture - the same used by the 318i, 320i and 330i's engines.
The result is a motor that produces 240kW and 450Nm, an increase of 15kW and 50Nm over the outgoing 335i. It'll hit triple-digit speeds from standstill in just 5.1 seconds, yet drinks just 6.8 l/100km on the combined cycle.
BMW's M Sport package comes as standard on the 340i, and the variable ratio sports steering rack, previously an option, is now standard-fit on that model too.
Along with the 316i, BMW’s Active Hybrid 3 has been discontinued. Those in search of a wagon will now find both the 320i Touring and the 330i Touring, with the diesel wagon missing out on an Australian berth.
The 2016 3 Series range officially becomes available in October, though the base model 318i won't arrive until November. Pricing for the full range is as follows:
BMW 318i Sedan - $54,900
BMW 320i Sedan - $61,900
BMW 320i Touring - $65,300
BMW 320d Sedan - $63,800
BMW 330i Sedan - $69,900
BMW 330i Touring - $73,300
BMW 340i Sedan - $89,900
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