has taken the wraps of the sixth generation of its BMW 3 Series, which BMW proudly state is the world’s best-selling premium saloon.
The new model is longer and wider than the car it will replace. The length is extended by 93mm, with 50mm of that being reflected in the wheelbase. The track has increased by 37mm at the front and 47mm at the back. As well as being longer and wider the new body is also stiffer. But, although it is larger, BMW say the new car is also lighter by up to 50 kg. They also claim it is more fuel-efficient, nimbler, more agile and safer.
Responding to customer demand (and also with an eye on the lucrative options list no doubt) BMW say they will offer a wider choice of trim and specification than ever before, to enable buyers personalise their car to a greater extent.
The emphasis on environmental performance means that BMW claim eight versions of the new 3 Series will have carbon dioxide emission of less than 120 g/km – a claim that becomes even more impressive when you consider that less than 1% of cars on sold in 2000 could get below 130 g/km
When the car goes on sale in the UK in February, there will be just four engines, but with other engines options will be added less than a month later in March 2012.
The launch line up starts with the BMW 320d which will be offered in two versions, one of them with BMW’s ‘Efficient Dynamics’ environmental package. This version, costing £28,080, has a combined fuel consumption of 68.9 mpg and carbon dioxide emissions of 109 g/km. The smaller petrol engine model is the BMW 328i at £29,060 with a combined fuel consumption of 44.8 mpg and a 0-2 mph acceleration of 5.9 seconds. Top of the launch range will be the £35,525 BMW 335i with a 0-62 mph time of 5.5 seconds and a combined consumption of 39.2 mpg.
All versions of the new BMW will have a what BMW call ‘Drive Performance Control’ as standard. This switch allows a driver to choose from up to four driving modes ranging from ‘ECO PRO’ for economy, Comfort, Sport and Sport+ (the latter only being on sporting models or ones with certain options).
In the ‘ECO PRO’ setting, the throttle mapping is changed so that it requires a firmer push on the throttle to achieve the performance. The idea is that this will encourage a more economical driving style. ‘ECO PRO’ also alters the recommended gearshift points for manual cars and changes the gearshift points in automatic models. It even adjusts the power consumption of electrical equipment such as air conditioning, electric seats and even mirror heating.
Auto Stop-Start is fitted to all versions of the new 3-series, along with brake energy regeneration. The engine’s ancillaries are controlled to operate only on demand and tyres with less rolling resistance are also fitted. Aerodynamics also come into play in the quest for better economy and lower emissions, and, with features like streamlining of the underside of the car, the new 3 Series has a 0.26 drag co-efficient.
Automatic versions of the new 3 Series will all benefit from BMW’s new eight-speed gearbox, in place of the previous six-speed. This will result in a wider spread of gear ratios and, significantly, BMW say the automatic versions of the new 3 series are as fuel-efficient, or more so, than their manual equivalents.
As we head into winter, the good news is that (no doubt with more than half an eye on the success of Audi with their quattro versions), the 3 series is to be offered with a four-wheel-drive option on some models.
The first public appearance for the new BMW 3 Series will be at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit in January.