New series of success story '3' for BMW
BMW recently rolled out the sixth generation of its 3-series in Munich. It will go on sale here on February 11 next.
The new motor -- typically evolutionary rather than revolutionary -- is bigger, longer (93mm) and roomier, although it is 6mm narrower. However, the company claims that it is not alone lighter but also faster.
It has an all-new chassis, the body is stiffer on a longer wheelbase (now 2,810mm, up 50mm) and wider tracks (37mm front, 47mm rear).
This means 15mm more knee room and 8mm more headroom in the rear. The height of the back doors and their opening angles are increased for easier access and exiting. Luggage space is up by 20 litres to 480.
Of course, it is driven by the rear wheels but BMW is planning a four-wheel-drive version and a petrol/electric hybrid is pencilled in for the end of next year.
There will initially be four TwinPower Turbo engines in the new motor.
The petrols include a new 328i 4cyl two-litre petrol (245bhp) and a 306bhp three-litre six-cylinder.
The two diesels we know from the current model: a revised 2-litre 320d with a 184bhp, as well as a fuel-sipping 163bhp version (109g/km).
Then it gets interesting. BMW say that within weeks of going on sale there will be three new engine variants: a 316d (116bhp) and 318d (143bhp) diesel and a 184bhp version of the two-litre petrol. That means there will be eight versions of the new car with CO2 emissions at or below 120g/km.
Ex-works prices will start at €34,180 for the 316d, with the 320d starting at €38,710 and the 320i from €37,710.
You can opt for an eight-speed automatic in any of the models but a six-speed manual gearbox is standard.
Also standard is Drive Performance Control; this allows you to switch between as many as four driving modes -- from sporty to super-economical.
As well as familiar ES, SE and later M Sport trim levels, there will also be Sport, Modern and Luxury.
Economy devices include stop-start, brake energy regeneration, as well as low-resistance tyres.
BMW is claiming huge strides in terms of quality, comfort and spec for a minimal price increase.
The iDrive controller for many of the car's functions and the 6.5ins display monitor (which is standard on all models) is so central that both front occupants can see and reach it.
BMW says spec levels are significantly increased and, in the main, include 17ins alloys, automatic air con, cruise control, Bluetooth, USB, multi-function leather steering wheel and automatic boot opening. SE spec, for example, adds rear park-distance control and two-zone air con.
Sport models have light alloys, black high-gloss air intakes in redesigned bumpers and matching bars in the double-kidney grille etc.
M Sport will have lowered and stiffened sports suspension and 18ins light alloys. A full-colour head-up display is optional.
The xDrive all-wheel-drive 3 Series is due towards the end of next year, with the ActiveHybrid 3 arriving around the same time.
It will use the powertrain recently announced for the ActiveHybrid 5. This combines the 306hp six-cylinder engine with a 40kW electric motor.