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Redesigned 2012 BMW 3-series revealed

Fri, 14 Oct 2011 00:00:00 -0700

BMW has revealed its sixth-generation 3-series sedan. The new model is the first in an unprecedented six-car lineup that will include a five-door GT and a four-door GranCoupe for the first time. BMW plans to put the car on sale across North America in February as a 2012 model. BMW officials suggest the price will rise an average 3 percent over the hugely popular fifth-generation 3-series sedan, on sale here since 2005.

The new car, known internally has the F30, is larger and roomier yet lighter and more economical than the model it replaces. It was re-engineered from the ground up. And double wishbones have replaced MacPherson struts in the front suspension.

Klaus Draeger, BMW's head of research and development, describes the 2012 BMW 3-series as BMW's most ambitious engineering program to date. Four years in the making, it is once again tasked with bettering key junior luxury-class rivals such as the Audi A4, the Mercedes-Benz C-class, the Lexus IS and the Volvo S60.

The car holds true to the standard rear-wheel-drive layout that has been a feature of each and every incarnation of the 3-series since its introduction to the BMW line in 1975. Initially there will be a choice of two gasoline engines--a new four-cylinder and a carryover six-cylinder in the 2012 BMW 328i and the 2012 335i, respectively. Further models are planned to follow, including the 3-series ActiveHybrid that mates a turbo six-cylinder gasoline engine with an electric motor mounted within the automatic-gearbox housing for a net output of 335 hp.


BMW's design team, headed by Adrian von Hooydonk, was charged with delivering more models and greater variation among them than ever before with the new 3-series lineup. The sedan, pictured here officially for the first time, retains the key proportions but boasts greater visual flair than its predecessor, which while offering suitable levels of practicality by class standards was often criticized for its somewhat cautious appearance.

Early concerns that it had simply been earmarked to continue the design theme seen on the larger 5-series and return the BMW to a one-design-fits-all model strategy proved premature. With shapely headlamps that butt up hard against a near-vertical kidney grille to help accentuate the width up front and two lines meant to provide a more wedged-shape outline while breaking up the visual bulk along the flanks, the new 2012 3-series boasts a distinctively unique appearance.

There are some traditional touches, too, including an elongated hood, a cab-back silhouette, a familiarly styled glasshouse, a signature Hofmeister kick within the C-pillar, and L-shaped tail lamps. As a whole, though, the new 2012 3-series sedan gets a more individual look than before.

Length is up 3.7 inches at 182.0 inches, some 2.0 inches of which was dedicated to increasing the wheelbase that stretches to 110.6 inches. Width is down 0.2 inch at 71.3 inches, but height is up 0.4 inch to 56.3 inches. The wide-track stance, a longtime 3-series design feature, also was enhanced, with the front gaining 1.5 inches at 60.7 inches and the rear up 1.9 inches, to 62.3 inches.

Despite the increase in size, BMW claims weight decreased an average of 88 pounds. This is partly reflected on the new four-cylinder 328i. Its claimed 3,153-pound curb weight is 99 pounds less than that quoted for its six-cylinder predecessor.


The interior continues the look BMW established on other recent new models, with a more driver-orientated dashboard and higher-quality materials than those of the outgoing 3-series. The instruments, switchgear and other controls--including BMW's rotary iDrive controller, now standard on all 3-series models--are largely shared with the 5-series, a step up. BMW fielded criticism of the old model's inexpensive-looking dashboard plastics.

The adoption of a free-standing infotainment monitor--similar to that in the BMW 1-series--for navigation, entertainment and onboard computer functions allowed designers to use a lower fascia and made for less dashboard bulk than its predecessor. Standard safety equipment includes front and side airbags for the driver and front-seat passenger together with side head-protection airbags front and back, three-point belts for all seats, active headrests and flat-tire warning.

To help position it further upmarket, BMW is making the 2012 3-series available with a wide range of optional equipment, including forward collision warning, night vision with pedestrian recognition, lane-change warning, head-up display, adaptive headlamps with adaptive high-beam control, rearview camera, park distance control with side and top views and speed-limit information. Buyers also will be able to order the new 3-series with Internet access for live music streaming, real-time traffic updates and Google-map-assisted navigation functions.

Accommodation up front is virtually unchanged. However, the increase in the exterior dimensions give the 2012 3-series added space in the rear, with more knee room and headroom than in the outgoing model. The wheelbase increase also allowed BMW to provide larger rear-door apertures to ease entry. Trunk capacity, never a real 3-series strength, is up 0.7 cubic foot to 17.0 cubic feet--still 0.35 cubic foot less than in the A4 sedan but now 0.17 cubic foot better than in the C-class sedan.

In a move mirroring that of the 1-series, the new 3-series will come in three distinct trim levels--Sport Line, Luxury Line and Modern Line. Also available from the start of U.S. sales next February will be an optional M-Sport trim package.


Among the engines available in North America when the car heads into showrooms early next year will be BMW's new turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder gasoline N20 engine. It enters the lineup as a replacement for BMW's classic naturally aspirated 3.0-liter inline six-cylinder.

Running a twin-scroll turbocharger and the latest in piezo valve direct-injection technology, together with BMW's patented Valvetronic variable valve timing and double Vanos variable camshaft control, it kicks out 240 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque at 1,250 rpm to provide the new 2012 328i with a 7.5-second 0-to-60-mph time, a limited 130-mph top speed (155 mph in the Sport Line) and average consumption of 36.7 mpg (U.S.) on the European cycle.

Also available will be a turbocharged 3.0-liter inline six-cylinder. Carried over from the outgoing model with only minimal changes, the N55-designated engine continues to produce 300 hp and 300 lb-ft of torque at 1,200 rpm, providing the range-topping 2012 BMW 335i with 0-to-60-mph acceleration in 5.4 seconds, a limited 130-mph top speed (155 mph in the Sport Line) and a combined-cycle consumption figure of 29.8 mpg.

As with its predecessor, the new 2012 3-series will offer the choice of a standard six-speed manual gearbox in all models and an optional eight-speed automatic. The latter also comes with a special sports option that adds steering-wheel-mounted paddles for remote shifting.

All models benefit from a range of standard EfficientDynamics functions, including engine ancillaries such as the oil and water pumps that operate when they are required rather than unnecessarily consuming power, brake-energy recuperation, automatic stop/start and, on six-speed manual-gearbox-equipped models, an optimal shift point display.


Underpinning the new 2012 3-series is a new-from-the-ground-up unitary steel platform claimed to provide vastly improved levels of rigidity and, in combination with the longitudinal mounting of its engines, a perfect 50:50 front-to-rear weight distribution.

"It is the fundamental element to ensuring the 3-series retains its reputation for outstanding dynamics and supple ride," Draeger says of BMW's latest model.

Sharing various architectural elements with the structure found beneath the latest 5-series, it supports an aluminum and steel body and is underpinned by a heavily reworked aluminum-intensive chassis that--for the first time--uses a double-wishbone (front) and multilink (rear) suspension with variable damping control. The new setup replaces the old MacPherson-strut and multilink arrangement, providing what BMW describes as considerably reduced unsprung masses, improved response and greater agility.

The stretch in wheelbase, together with the increases in track lengths, also gives the new 3-series a larger footprint than ever. Buyers will be able to specify four different sizes of wheel depending on the engine sitting up front: 16 inches, 17 inches and 18 inches, and, as part of an optional M package, 19-inchers.

A further new development is the adoption of electromechanical steering, a measure BMW first brought to its lineup on the Z4 and has since included on the 1-series and the 5-series. Alongside standard rear-wheel drive, BMW developed selected new 3-series with optional four-wheel drive. Details remain scarce, but indications are that the 2012 BMW 328i will get a Haldex-style arrangement to create a 328iX model.

As part of efforts that will allow owners to tailor the 2012 3-series to a particular driving style, it will be available with driving dynamics control, which allows the driver to choose from comfort, sport and sport-plus. There is also an Eco Pro mode that helps drivers maximize fuel economy through their driving style, thereby enabling them to increase the distance they can travel between visits to the pump.

PRESS RELEASE: Introducing The All-New 6th Generation BMW 3 Series Sedan Dynamic, Efficient and Luxurious

With the announcement of the sixth generation BMW 3 Series Sedan, the benchmark by which all sport sedans are measured just got raised. The pioneering history of the 3 Series serves as inspiration for the new sports sedan, whose powerful styling represents a fresh interpretation and conscientious development of traditional BMW design cues. It will not only set new standards for performance and handling but also for luxury, technology and efficiency as well.

The all-new BMW 3 Series Sedan arrives in US showrooms in February 2012 as a 2012 model.

The new BMW face, with elongated headlights reaching along as far as the BMW kidney grille, emphasizes the new BMW 3 Series' sense of width and strengthens its athletic overall profile. The sixth generation of the 3 Series has grown moderately in size compared to its predecessor, with its wide track (front + 37 mm/1.46 in., rear + 47 mm/1.85 in.) particularly prominent, and the car's length (+ 93 mm/3.66 in.) and wheelbase (+ 50 mm/1.96 in.) also accentuates its sporting allure. Inside the new BMW 3 Series Sedan, the rear passengers will appreciate the noticeable increase in space made possible by the larger dimensions. And the BMW 3 Series range is now also available in a trio of trim and equipment variants – the Sport Line, Luxury Line and Modern Line. Each presents its own individual take on the character of the sports sedan, with exclusive, high-quality material combinations and unbeatable build quality underlining the premium ambience of the new range.

Drive and chassis technology have always been key areas of expertise for the brand, and agility and driving dynamics remain outstanding attributes of the new BMW 3 Series Sedan. The new car belies its larger dimensions with an equipment equalized curb weight 88 lb (40 kilograms) below that of its predecessor.

A choice of two muscular, refined and efficient engines – which both feature new BMW TwinPower Turbo technology – will be available for the new BMW 3 Series Sedan in the US market. In addition to the already successful 6-cylinder N55 engine powering the 335i, customers can also opt for the new turbocharged 4-cylinder (N20) variant in the BMW 328i. This latest-generation engine, initially introduced in the 2012 Z4 sDrive28i, rewards the driver with both a dynamic driving experience and significantly reduced fuel consumption.

The innovative 8-speed automatic gearbox – which is a first in the segment – opens up a whole new level of driving experience. It can be specified in combination with either the 328i or the 335i and includes the new Auto Start-Stop function. Compact and exceptionally efficient, it allows the new BMW 3 Series to match or outperform models fitted with the standard six-speed manual gearbox in terms of fuel economy. The new 8-speed automatic brings together shift comfort, dynamic performance and efficiency of the highest order, making it the perfect partner for the new sedan's dynamic potential.

As components of the BMW EfficientDynamics technology line-up, the Auto Start-Stop function, Brake Energy Regeneration, and need-based operation of ancillary components (including an on-demand air conditioning compressor) also play their part in reducing fuel consumption. Added to which, the new Driving Dynamics Control switch, which allows the driver to choose between Comfort, Sport, Sport + and ECO PRO mode, gives both models the potential to further improve these figures. This ECOPRO mode helps drivers maximize fuel economy through their driving style, thereby enabling them to increase the distance they can travel between visits to the pumps. BMW will add another cutting-edge engine to the line-up in 2012, when the BMW ActiveHybrid 3 will premiere. BMW ConnectedDrive offers an unmatched combination of available driver assistance technology and mobility systems for the new BMW 3 Series range. A new arrival in the premium mid-size segment is the latest-generation full-color Head-Up Display, which projects key information – in sharp resolution – onto the windshield so it appears directly in the driver's field of view. Also available is Surround View with Side View and Top View, which gives a bird's-eye perspective of the vehicle and the area around it. In addition, an available Parking Assistant system helps the driver to parallel park. Among the other assistance technology available under the BMW ConnectedDrive banner are the Active Blind Spot Detection System and Lane Departure Warning System with camera-based Collision Warning system, which are offered for the first time in a BMW 3 Series. A Navigation System with Real-Time Traffic Information (RTTI) and an innovative comfort access function allowing hands-free opening of the trunk lid are all included on the options list.


All in all, the innovative body structure and intelligent lightweight design concept of the new BMW 3 Series Sedan ensure that it is now larger and safer, but – depending on the engine specified – also lighter. The dynamic proportions and athletic overall impression of the new 3 Series bring the sporting character of this hugely successful model into even sharper focus.

The BMW 3 Series Sedan is an iconic figure in the sports sedan segment and over the years has come to symbolize the aesthetic appeal, dynamics and sporting capability of BMW. With its dynamic lines and athletic overall presence, the sixth generation of the world's best-selling premium vehicle highlights the sporting character of the brand's mid-size model. Although the new BMW 3 Series has grown moderately in all dimensions compared to its predecessor, it retains a perfect balance of sportiness and elegance. As in previous generations, the sedan's dynamic proportions are shaped by the sweeping hood, short front overhang, long wheelbase and set-back greenhouse typical of BMW.

Striking face with precise contours and multi-faceted surfaces.

The wedge shape of the new 3 Series' silhouette and its wider track underline the sporting appearance of the new BMW. By clearly accentuating the width of the car, the multi-faceted surfaces of the expressive front fascia give the BMW 3 Series a more athletic face than ever. A wide, squat interpretation of the upright, slightly forward-slanting BMW kidney grille emphasizes the assured presence of the new BMW 3 Series. LED accent lights positioned like eyebrows above the striking twin headlights with corona rings (if xenon headlights are specified) lend an extra intensity to the classic BMW focused look. Clearly defined headlight surrounds now extend up to the frame of the kidney grille, merging the headlights and grille of the new BMW 3 Series Sedan into a single stylistic unit and adding further emphasis to the car's broad-set stance. The BMW 3 Series replaces the central air intake of its predecessor with two larger intakes, which are positioned underneath the headlights to the outer edges of the front fascia and add extra depth to the car's sporty styling. On the far left and right of the main ducts are small vertical intakes which help create the “Air Curtain”. This new technology improves air flow around the front wheels, enhancing aerodynamic efficiency and reducing fuel consumption at higher speeds.

The closely spaced, squat openings of the kidney grille, with their eye-catching surrounds, form the most prominent element of the new BMW 3 Series Sedan's front design. This is also where the precise lines of the heavily contoured hood, spawned by the roof pillars and flowing over the full length of the hood, come together on the their journey towards the road. The result is a front that appears lower-slung, giving the BMW 3 Series a clear sporting edge when viewed head-on.

Precise lines produce a stretched silhouette and enhance the car's dynamic impact.

Powerfully taut surfaces with sweeping lines dominate the side view of the BMW 3 Series Sedan, stretching the car visually and lending extra verve to its dynamic stance. The flanks of the car are shaped by an eye-catching double character line running alongside each other. The higher character line emerges out of the low-slung nose and flows over the front wheel with an understated sweep, in a nod to the sedan's fleetness of foot. The second character line develops lower down behind the front wheel and follows a delicately arching path towards the rear. Together, they reinforce the dynamic wedge shape of the car's flanks. As well as providing a discreet increase in muscularity in the rear section below the character line, these styling cues also create vivid light and shade effects, which draw further attention to the car's wide track.

The striking interpretation of the hallmark BMW Hofmeister kink at the base of the C-pillar injects the silhouette of the new 3 Series with even greater

By Greg Kable