2012 BMW 3-Series
The 6th generation of the BMW 3-Series will make its official debut at the beginning of next year during the Detroit Motor Show and it seems that the car, dubbed F30, is now during its final phase of a 3-year durability testing program. More and more prototypes have been seen around the company’s Munich HQ as well as the Nurburgring.
The sedan version is the first one that will be launched, followed later on by five other variants: Touring, GT, coupe, cabrio and a GranCoupe. The last three models will ditch the 3-Series designation and will wear the new 4-Series nameplate. The sedan is set to go on sale in the United Kingdom in March at a starting price which will be 4% higher in comparison to today’s price tag.
Design-wise, the car as we said a few days ago will look a lot more like the 5-Series, which is a smart approach BMW is taking with its two best selling models. The car will have a more wedge-shaped profile while the kidney grille will evoke the shark nose appearance of the original E21 3-Series from 1975. Other updates worth mentioning include a heavily angled window, a high bootline and defined front wheel arches, as well as more prominent lines running down the flanks.
The wheelbase of the next BMW 3-Series is going to be 50mm longer while the tracks have been increased by approximately 20 mm in the front and 15 mm out in the back. The target of BMW’s engineers is to increase the interior cabin space so that it could match its main competitors, the Mercedes-Benz C-Class and the Audi A4.
The new 3-Series will ditch the regular MacPherson strut suspension in the front in favor of a space-saving double wishbone design which promises to provide a shorter front overhang, a slight reduction in the turning circle in comparison to the current model, along with an improved wheel control. The back will still feature the multi-link suspension. However, it will benefit from a bigger number of aluminum components and will feature variable damper control.
Another update that we have to mention is the inclusion of an electro-mechanical steering that will come with an ActiveSteering option in order to provide the necessary variable assistance based on the speed of the car. A novelty of the model will be the two different wheelbases. The sedan, touring, coupe and cabrio models will ride on the SWB version while the GT and the GranCoupe will use the LWB version that will be 75mm longer in comparison to the wheelbase of the current 3-Series. China will also get a LWB version of the sedan.
The car will be available with a choice of 11 engines; five of them will be turbocharged gasoline units while the other six will be turbodiesels that will have piezo injectors. Keep in mind that the car won’t be available at first with all of these power units. The now legendary 3.0-liter naturally-aspirated 6-cylinder gasoline engine will be retired in favor of an all-new 4-cylinder 2.0-liter turbo unit that powers the X1 xDrive28i. The entry-level gasoline engine will be the 4-cylinder 1.6-liter turbocharged unit with 150 hp.
A trio consisting of turbocharged 2.0-liter engines will be available, with outputs of 180 hp for the 320i model, 210 hp for the 325i and 245 hp for the 328i. The top-spec 335i will get a 6-cylinder 3.0-liter turbo engine with 306 hp.
As far as the diesels are concerned, the new BMW 3-Series will be available with a 4-cylinder 2.0-liter engine that will be available in the following output configurations: 122 hp for the 316d model, 143 hp for the 318d and 184 hp for the 320d. These will be joined by three 6-cylinder 3.0-liter engines with 204 hp for the 325d, 245 hp for the 330d and 286 hp for the 335d. All of these engines will be mated as standard to a 6-speed manual transmission and clients will be able to choose an optional 8-speed automatic gearbox developed by ZF.
Also in the pipeline are at least three other models that will benefit from an optional 4WD configuration. We are talking about the 328iX, 320dX and the 330iX models and rumors say that if the demand will exist, BMW will roll out other similar ones. The German automaker is also working on a frugal variant of the 3-Series in the form of a 320d EfficientDynamics version that will manage to return about 75 mpg UK on the combined cycle.
After the launch of the Touring variant, BMW will most likely prepare an ActiveHybrid version that will be powered by a 2.0-liter turbocharged gasoline engine that will work in tandem with an electric motor which will be mounted within the housing of the automatic gearbox.
Some of the technology available on the upcoming BMW 3-Series include night vision, lane change warning, forward collision warning, the company’s four-color version of the head-up display that features traffic sign recognition, along with surround view parking system that has side-mounted cameras plus driving dynamic control to modify the mapping of the power unit, suspension and gearbox.