BMW have just unleashed the details of their all-new 2012 3 Series. The most important facts to note are the fact it’s wider, longer and more spacious than its predecessor, while also managing to be lighter and more fuel efficient. The 3 Series has always led the sports sedan field in terms of handling, and for the latest 3 Series BMW have made extra strides designed to enhance performance even further. To achieve this, they have made extensive use of lightweight chassis components, newly-engineered axle components and a high-precision steering system. The 2012 3 Series is also fitted with BMW’s latest electronic control system to manage the vehicle dynamics and provide a balance between sporty performance, luxury and safety.
For the sixth-generation 3 Series there are several drivetrain choices, ranging from an under-powered 116 horsepower 2.0 litre diesel, all the way up to a 306 horsepower, 3.0-litre twin-turbo six-cylinder which gets from 0-60 mph in under 5.5 seconds and tops out at an electronically limited 155 mph.
All engines in the new 3 Series Saloon feature BMW TwinPower Turbo technology. They include a new four-cylinder 2.0-litre petrol unit, developing 245hp and 350Nm of torque, in the 328i. It replaces the six-cylinder 3.0-litre engines in the previous 325i and 330i. In some markets there will be 316d and 318d diesels, powered respectively by 116hp and 143hp variants of the 2.0-litre diesel engine, plus another version of the 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine. This will be used in the new 320i, and will be tuned to deliver 184hp and 270Nm of torque. Transmission choices include a standard six-speed manual, or an optional eight-speed automatic. The eight-speed auto can be ordered in a sports version (for Sport Line and M Sport models) with steering wheel mounted paddles.
All versions of the new 3 Series Saloon feature Drive Performance Control as standard – a switch which allows the driver to select between up to four driving modes, varying from sporty to extremely economical. The four modes are ECO PRO, Comfort, Sport, and Sport + (Sport + is included only on Sport models or with selected optional equipment).
Optional Variable Sport steering and Adaptive M Sport suspension with electronically variable dampers will also be available – both interacting seamlessly with the Drive Performance Control and adding the ‘Sport+’ mode to this switch.
The 2012 BMW 3 Series Saloon is fitted with electromechanical power steering which consumes no energy when the car is being driven in a straight line or in steady-state cornering. Servotronic speed-sensitive power assistance is standard on the 328i and 335i derivatives and optional on all others.
Light-alloy wheels of at least 17 inches in diameter and wrapped in Run-flat tires linked to a Tyre Puncture Warning System are now fitted to every version apart from the 320d EfficientDynamics model – which has 16-inch aerodynamic alloys and non-Run-flat tires. The rolling resistance of the tires has been reduced by 15 per cent compared with those on the previous model, with no loss of dynamic performance.
The popular ES and SE models will be again available from launch, whilst Sport and M Sport are targeted at the more enthusiastic driver and Modern and Luxury bring their own unique benefits. By offering six different trim variants BMW are hoping to cater to an increasingly diverse customer base.
SE is available with all engines except the 335i, and adds, among other things, different alloy wheels, rear Park Distance Control, two-zone air conditioning and a rain sensor with automatic light activation.
The Sport trim offers unique light alloy wheels, black high-gloss air intakes in redesigned bumpers and matching bars in the double-kidney grille, and a black chrome tailpipe finisher. Red stitching adorns the sport seats and leather-rimmed sports steering wheel. The interior is in high-gloss black with a red finisher, the instrument cluster has red highlighting and there is extended and switchable interior lighting with exclusive colours, chrome rings around the climate and radio controls and ‘Sport’ insignia on the door entry sills. Sport also comes with an additional ‘Sport+’ mode on the Drive Performance Control and is available on all four-cylinder models except the 328i and 320d EfficientDynamics.
Modern is available on all engines except the 316d and 320d EfficientDynamics and replaces the high-gloss black exterior embellishments of Sport with matt chrome and has its own exclusive 17-inch light alloy wheel and bumper design. It also has switchable interior lighting colours, the extended lighting package and matt chrome trim detailing and signature door sills. The standard seats are in part cloth and part leather, whilst there is a two-tone Oyster finish on the dash, with Dark Oyster on the instrument panel and multi-function leather steering wheel.
Luxury models have a refined, sophisticated appearance, offer the finest quality materials and include an enhanced level of standard equipment. Luxury is available across the range apart from the 316d and 320d EfficientDynamics. Bright chrome replaces the high-gloss black of Sport models or the matt chrome of Modern, and there are exclusive 18-inch light alloy wheels as standard. Inside, the detailing is also chrome, while the upholstery is Dakota leather with an exclusive stitching pattern and the dash and door cappings are in Anthracite wood with a Pearl Chrome finisher.
The M Sport package includes lowered and stiffened sports suspension, unique aerodynamic body styling and 18-inch M light alloy wheels. The interior is trimmed in Aluminium Hexagon with a Blue finisher. The sport seats will be covered with Dakota leather, and the door trim, steering wheel and shortened gearshift will reflect the car’s position as the sportiest 3 Series Saloon model.
The new 3 Series Saloon will appear in public for the first time at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit in January 2012.