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All-new BMW 3-Series revealed

A new look, new interior and new engines are what BMW hopes will place this new 3er at the top of the sales charts...

BMW has revealed the next-generation 2012 3-Series.

Visually the new 3er takes some design cues from the latest 1-Series, with a lower, more streamlined nose. BMW have some spiel that claims this is for aerodynamic benefits and a new corporate look, but we know fully well that these lower nose designs are dictated by the latest pedestrian impact regulations both here in the EU and in the US.

But what we get is a smoother look with the stock BMW kidney grilles enlarged yet again to be the biggest found on a 3-Series yet. The complex shaped headlights contain DRLs, traditional halo rings around the lights and for the first time they extend right up to the grille. The lower bumper has 3 different designs in line with the new trim levels, and that takes us up to the A-Pillar. Because it would appear that that is where BMW stopped designing the new car, and just used the old one. Even a die-hard car geek would find it difficult to differentiate the new from the old from a rear three-quarter view - the rear lights, boot shape, side sculpting and rear bumper is almost identical, or near enough that no-one would notice. Having said that, the old 3-Series was a very good looking car, but BMW could have done more with a whole new body shape.

The next 3-Series is bigger than its predecessor. The new 3er is 93 mm (3.66 inches) longer than the previous model, offering up 15 mm (0.59 inches) more legroom and 8 mm (.0315 inches) more headroom for the passengers at the back. This extra interior room is complimented by the new look dash and control area. The new dash adopts the free standing infotainment screen seen in the new 1-Series, and uses the new iDrive controlled to good effect, minimising the amount of buttons on the dash.

BMW will initially offer the 3-Series in four variants - the 328i and 335i on the petrol side, and the 320d and 320d EfficienctDynamics on the diesel end. More variants will be added later on  including the 318d, 325d, 330d and 335d for the diesels and a 318i and 320i for the petrol engines.

The range-topping 335i comes with a twin-turbo 3.0 liter inline six-cylinder unit producing 306 PS (225 kW / 302 hp), but the big news is the new 328i. The replacement for BMW’s fabulous naturally aspirated 3.0-litre six, the 328i employs a twin-scroll turbo, the latest piezo-valve direct-injection, Valvetronic variable valve control and double Vanos cam control to kick out a hefty 242bhp and 258lb ft of torque at a lowly 1250rpm.

Faster than the discontinued 330i and only a shade slower than the new 335i turbo-six, the 328i is 11mpg better than the old 330i saloon and promises to be one of the highlights of the new 3-series. The new 3er still offers the 320d EfficientDynamics diesel with 163 PS (120 kW / 161 hp) with a fuel-economy rating of 68.9mpg and a CO2 quotient of 109 g/km, which is likely to be the biggest seller in Europe.

As for pricing in Europe, the 320d will sell for €35,350 and the 335i will start at €43,600.

Other variants will be added starting in the spring of 2012, including a Touring and GT (similar to the 5er GT in concept) variant, while a full-hybrid variant of the 3-Series will be launched next autumn. The next Coupe and Convertible models will most likely adopt the 4-Series moniker, though oddly the M variant will still be called 'M3' as a nod to history.


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About Tim Oldland

Contributing Editor - Long time petrolhead, automotive design engineer and journalist. Also Social Media Manager for the ecurie25 Group - Tim has worked in the automotive sector for many years, but has been a fan of anything with 2 or 4... read more