1 Feb 2012
BMW launched the sixth-generation 3 Series in February 2012 with an all-new body, value pricing, increased personalisation options, more space, better dynamics and significant efficiency improvements.
With a profusion of 2.0-litre Twin Power four-cylinder engine choices, only the 335i features the classic in-line six-cylinder petrol engine configuration that BMW is famous for. Every powerplant is turbo-charged.
The standard transmission is a class-first ZF eight-speed automatic, though a six-speed manual gearbox is available throughout the range.
Devised with low consumption and emissions in mind, the ZF transmission is part of BMW’s EfficientDynamics tech that also sees ASS Auto Stop/Start, BER Brake Energy Regeneration, EPS Electric Power Steering (that only draws power when required), and a drivetrain efficiency maximisation setting called Eco Pro (as part of a new DEC Driving Experience Control device that also includes Comfort and Sport settings it shaves fuel use through reduced throttle responsiveness and other controls) fitted as standard.
For the first time, a diesel engine opens a 3 Series line-up in Australia.
The 318d’s 1995cc 2.0-litre in-line four-cylinder turbo unit produces 105kW of power at 4000rpm and 320Nm of torque from 1750 to 2500rpm, for a 9.3 second 0-100km/h sprint-time, 210km/h top speed, 4.5 litres per 100km EU combined cycle readout, and 118 grams per kilometre carbon dioxide emissions rating.
Essentially the same 1995cc engine, the 320d ups the power and torque ante to 135kW at 4000rpm and 380Nm from 1750-2750rpm respectively, for a 7.6s 0-100km/h-dash time, 230km/h V-max, yet with exactly the same EU Combined consumption and emission figures as above.
On the petrol front, the 1997cc M20 2.0-litre Twin Power turbo unit delivers the same 135kW (but at 5000rpm), as well as 270Nm from 1250-4500rpm, for an identical 0-100km/h run of 7.6s, along with 233km/h, 6.0L/100km and 141g/km.
Usurping the old 160kW/250Nm 2.5-litre in-line six in the E90 325i, a retuned version of this fiery four-pot lump motivates the 328i to the tune of 180kW from 5000-6500rpm and 350Nm from 1250-4800rpm, securing a 6.1s sprint time to 100km/h, a 250km/h top speed, 6.3L/100km and 147g/km of CO2 pollution.
Purists may prefer the 2979cc Twin Power turbo in-line petrol six, with its 225kW (from 5800-6000rpm), 400Nm (1200-5000rpm), 0-100km/h-sprint time of 5.5s, artificially limited 250km/h, 7.2L/100km and 169g/km. Specifying the manual, by the way, ups economy and emissions by 0.7L/100km and 17g/km respectively.
Built on an all-new platform, the newcomer is 93mm longer than before, at 4623mm, with a 50mm gain in the wheelbase. The track has been widened yet the overall width is down by 4mm to 1811mm. A 50:50 axle load ratio continues.
Suspension is a variation of a proven theme, with an all aluminium double-joint spring strut axle up front and a five-link arrangement out back, while the Servotronic EPS continues with a rack and pinion design.
Australian-bound F30s are built in South Africa.