With a front wheel drive 1-Series and four door 6-Series on the way, it’s easy to forget that BMW is soon to launch a new version of its best seller, the 3-Series.
The F30, as it is codenamed, is the sixth generation of a car that in the UK outsells the Ford Mondeo — BMW transcended from prestige into mainstream some years back. This new model takes inspiration from that other fairly recent BMW saloon addition, the new 5-Series (F10), and is likely to be available as traditional four door notchback, a Touring estate, plus a GT five door, all of which we have spotted and taken photos of. A coupe and convertible are also expected, but we can’t be sure they will use the 3-Series badges — they may be badged as 4-Series, as has been rumoured will happen for a while.
Riding on an extended wheelbase to today’s model, the new 3-Series will be roomier. Technology from its bigger brothers will find its way into the car, so expect to see a lane departure warning system, a system to prevent the driver from dozing off (don’t judge the driving experience based on the perceived need for this!), night vision and adaptive cruise control with automatic braking to avoid collisions.
There will not be a three cylinder engine, as had been suggested, but the range will be made up of four cylinder and six cylinder petrols and diesels. Remember that new BMW engines are now being developed around a common 500cc cylinder size, so the four cylinder 2.0 petrols will be available in various states of tunes, varying from 145bhp all the way up to 220bhp, mainly thanks to different degrees of turbocharging. The most powerful two litre petrol will be as powerful as the outgoing straight six 3.0 litre petrol.
The diesel engines will be available with from 204bhp all the way up to 300bhp. A hybrid is also expected.
You can see the aggresive ‘Angel Eyes’ headlights on the dark saloon, with a nose that clearly resembles that on the 5-Series. The saloon’s tail lights are also fairly obvious beneath the camouflage. The Touring is still wearing fake rear lights.
Expect a reveal at the Frankfurt motor show in September with UK sales staring early in 2012. The price is expected to start from about £23,000.