BMW today slid the covers off the new 3-series. Dubbed F30 in BMWspeak, this is an important car for Munich, selling in six-figure numbers across the world. One in five BMWs sold globally is a 3-series.
The new 2012 3-series family will be available as a saloon (F30) first, with a 3-series Touring estate (F31) and 3-series Coupe (F32), Convertible (F33) to follow. It's the sixth generation 3-series family.
There'll even be a 3-series Gran Turismo this time (that'll be F34) and potentially a four-door coupe (F35). Make no mistake, BMW's throwing the kitchen sink at the new Three.
When can I buy the new F30 BMW 3-series?
UK sales start in February 2012 and prices will start at £24,100. That entry point should dip over time, as new engines arrive.
At launch the range looks like this:
328i 2.0-litre 4cyl twin-turbo, 242bhp, 258lb ft, 5.9sec 0-62mph, 155mph, 44.1mpg, 149g/km, £29,060
335i 3.0-litre 6cyl twin-turbo, 302bhp, 295lb ft, 5.5sec 0-62mph, 155mph, 35.8mpg, 186g/km, £35,525
320d 2.0-litre 4cyl, 181bhp, 280lb ft, 7.5sec 0-62mph, 146mph, 62.8mpg, 120g/km, £28,080
320d EfficientDynamics 2.0-litre 4cyl, 161bhp, 280lb ft, 8.0sec 0-62mph, 143mph, 68.9mpg, 109g/km £28,080
By March 2012, BMW will offer eight different models with CO2 emissions under 120g/km – Munich says the opposition can only muster one each. That's some achievement.
Every petrol engine at launch has BMW TwinPower turbo tech. Downsizing is rife here: the 328i ditches the 3.0-litre straight six for a 2.0-litre bi-turbo four.
A 316d and 318d arrive in March 2012, mustering 114bhp and 141bhp respectively. A 181bhp 320i arrives at the same time.
What tech can we expect on the new 3-series?
There's the latest version of what BMW calls Drive Performance Control. It's a switch on the centre console that flicks the Three between Comfort, Sport, Sport + and Eco Pro, tweaking throttle mapping, steering assistance and damping (where adaptive) between different modes to set the car up for dynamic handling or eco pootling.
Lowering CO2 is very important, naturally. Every model has stop-start as standard – regardless of manual or eight-speed auto transmissions – and the new F30 3-series is up to 50kg lighter than before, despite a minor growth spurt which sees the car stretch by 93mm (the boot's 20 litres bigger, too, at 480).
That 5-series Lite design is slippery, too, with a drag coefficient of just 0.26 claimed. There's no penalty for picking an auto these days; with an overdriven eighth ratio, the automatic 3-series are all as economical or better than their manual equivalents.
Will the F30 Three still handle?
Sounds like it should. Weight distribution is 50-50 front-rear and suspension is by wishbones (front) and the five-link axle at the rear from the outgoing E90 3-series.
Run-flats will again be fitted to alloys of at least 17in in diameter (though the 320d ED rolls on 16s). We're sure you'll all go and spec yours up with big rims and the M Sport styling pack.
See the new BMW 3-series for the first time at the 2012 Detroit auto show; UK sales start on 11 February 2012.