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New BMW 3 Series revealed

Saloon is bigger, safer, faster and more efficient

BMW 3 Series

BMW has announced details of the new 3 Series

BMW has unveiled the next generation BMW 3 Series saloon.

A notable absentee at last month’s Frankfurt Motor Show, the new BMW 3 Series is bigger and safer, yet also lighter, faster and more fuel-efficient.

BMW 3 Series: all turbo engines

The new BMW 3 Series saloon is up to 50kg lighter than the car it replaces.

Despite the weight reduction, the 3 Series is 93mm longer than before, with a 50mm increase in wheelbase for improved passenger room. BMW says cabin quality is better, and EfficientDynamics technologies help improve fuel consumption.

It launches with a choice of two petrol and two diesel engines, with more to follow later. Every car will feature the latest BMW TwinPower turbocharging tech – including a new 2.0-litre turbo four-cylinder petrol unit that initially joins the range in 241bhp guise, badged as the 328i and replacing the previous six-cylinder 325i and 330i models.

This car will reach 62mph in just 5.9 seconds and is electronically limited to 155mph, yet still returns a claimed 44.1mpg with 149g/km CO2 emissions when fitted with the standard six-speed manual gearbox. As with all versions of the new 3 Series, an eight-speed automatic transmission is optional, and depending on the model this either maintains or improves the fuel economy and emissions.

The 328i is joined by 335i turbo petrol and 320d and 320d EfficientDynamics turbodiesel engines at launch, all familiar from the current 3 Series. Later additions will include a 320i powered by a 181bhp version of the new 2.0-litre turbo petrol, plus 316d and 318d turbodiesels.

BMW 3 Series

Eight new models offer car tax under £30

Even more EfficientDynamics

In time there will be no less than eight model variants of the new 3 Series that emit less than 120g/km CO2. As BMW rather smugly points out, the obvious rivals can only muster one model apiece – with the 320d EfficientDynamics maintaining its position as the eco superstar.

This car emits the same 109g/km CO2 as the outgoing version but now, thanks to the eight-speed ‘box, you can have it as an automatic with the same emissions. The claimed fuel economy for this model is 68.9mpg.

There are eco improvements right across the range, though, as start-stop becomes available on every single model, including the autos. Other tweaks include low-rolling-resistance tyres and aerodynamic optimisation, including a flat underside and new ‘Aero Curtain’ air channels in the front bumper that smooth the airflow around the front wheels.

Every new 3 Series also gets Drive Performance Control as standard, a three- or four-setting (depending on model) driving mode system. All versions feature Eco Pro mode, which optimises all electronic systems for maximum economy while retuning the throttle response to soften inputs.

A 3 Series hybrid badged ‘Active Hybrid’ will follow in due course.

BMW 3 Series

Six trim levels will be available

Six trim levels

BMW is aiming to increase customer appeal with extra personalisation for the new 3 Series. To this end, it will feature no less than six trim levels.

Entry-level is the ES – only available with the 316d engine – but even this features 17-inch alloys, air conditioning, Bluetooth, 6.5-inch colour screen, iDrive, keyless go, USB connection, cruise control and a multifunction steering wheel.

The SE upgrades this with rear parking sensors, dual-zone air-con, automatic lights and wipers for an extra £850. Beyond this are Sport and Modern (£1,000 more than SE), Luxury (£2,500 more than SE) and M Sport (£TBC).

Sport, Modern and Luxury trim levels do exactly what they say on the tin – with specification to match. This includes individual exterior and interior detailing, as well as the equipment levels. M Sport cars will be particularly distinctive, with unique bodywork,  a different steering wheel and a shortened shift action for the manual gearbox.

Options highlights include a full-colour head-up display, Dynamic Safety, internet connectivity, Park Assist, and reversing and surround-view camera systems.

BMW 3 Series

The cheapest model starts from £24,880

Priced from under £25,000, on sale February 2012

The new BMW 3 Series saloon gets its public debut at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit in January 2012.

It is scheduled to go on sale in the UK in February 2012. Prices will start at £24,880 for the 316d ES.

Cost increases across the range are inevitable, but when adjusted for standard equipment work out as low as £75 on the 320i model, while the new 328i is £530 more expensive than the current 325i but a whopping £2,935 less than the 330i which it also replaces and outperforms.

Four-wheel-drive models and the hybrid are set to follow – UK firsts on both counts, since a four-wheel-drive 3 Series has never previously been available in right-hand drive.

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