2012 BMW 3-Series – Officially Unveiled

After many rumours and great anticipation BMW has revealed its all-new 2012 3-Series at an event in Munich. Codenamed F30 the new model is the sixth generation of BMW’s luxury sedan. Since 1975 the 3-Series has sold more than 12 million units and has become the benchmark in its segment. So the stakes are high for this new model.

In terms of size the new 3-Series has grown by 93mm in length and the wheelbase (50mm) and track (37mm-47mm) have also seen increases. The design remains familiar and similar to the outgoing model but with noticeable progressions. There’s a sharper and longer character line running from the front wheel guard through to the rear tail-light and there’s a  higher, coupe-like rear deck with an upwards flick to the boot lid. Facial changes include a larger twin-kidney grille that meets the headlights for a more continuous appearance.

Inside the larger body allows for 15mm more legroom and 8mm more headroom for rear seat passengers. Cargo capacity in the boot is also increased but despite the larger body, numerous weight saving measures mean the new 3-Series is 40kg lighter (depending on version).

Internationally, the 2012 3 Series will be offered with four turbocharged engines at launch: two petrol and two diesel which will be matched to two transmissions, a six-speed manual or the new eight-speed auto box. In the future, the new 3-Series will receive more engine variants including a six-cylinder diesel, all-wheel drive xDrive versions and a hybrid system.

The pair petrol engines will begin with the entry-point 328i which is powered by the same turbocharged four-cylinder engine to go in the updated 528i (read news). Power output for this motor is rated at 180kW with a solid 350Nm of torque. The 0-100km/h sprint will be covered in 5.9 seconds with the manual and 6.1 seconds with the auto box. Fuel consumption is quoted at 6.4 l/100km when matched with the six-speed manual and 6.3 l/100km with the auto.

The higher spec petrol option is the now familiar 335i which continues with the current turbocharged inline six-cylinder petrol engine that delivers 225kW and 400Nm of torque. The 335i covers the 0-100km/h dash in just 5.5 seconds for either transmission and fuel consumption has been dropped to 7.9 l/100km for the manual and 7.2 l/100km for the automatic.

First of the diesel options is the 320d EfficientDynamics with a four-cylinder diesel mill and BMW’s latest fuel-conserving technologies. This model produces 120kW of power and 380Nm of torque and will sip away on 4.1 l/100km in auto and manual form. It will get from 0-100km/h in 8 seconds flat.

The EfficienctDynamics features include Brake Energy Regeneration, Optimum Shift Indicator (manual only), on-demand-only operation of ancillary features, electromechanical power steering, low rolling-resistance tyres, a map-controlled air pump and a disengageable air-conditioning compressor.

The standard 320d is more powerful and uses a higher tuned version of the same four-cylinder diesel engine to produce 135kW and 380Nm of torque. Fuel consumption is listed at 4.5 l/100km for the manual and 4.4 for the auto. The 0-100km/h sprint is achieved 7.5 seconds for the manual and at 7.6 seconds for the auto.

Next year it’s expected that BMW will boost the new 3-Series range with more entry-point options including a 320i petrol and a 316d and 318d diesel vehicles.

For trim levels the 2012 3-Series will offer ES, SE, Sport and M Sport grades and two new personalisation lines – Modern and Luxury.

As usual the M Sport package comes with lower and stiffer suspension 18- or 19-inch M alloy wheels, chrome exhaust outlets and exclusive bodywork.

Standard features across the 3-Series range will include Bluetooth and USB/iPod connectivity, a 6.5-inch screen with BMW’s iDrive interface, keyless start, a multi-function steering wheel, cruise control and automatic boot opening.

Expect to hear more on New Zealand specification and pricing as the 2012 3-Series gets closer to its local launch next year.

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