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2012 BMW 3-Series Review and Prices

2012 BMW 3-Series Review and Prices

2012 BMW 3-Series Review and Prices

BMW’s top seller is redesigned ahead of schedule to combat slumping sales and tough new mpg and emissions mandates. The result should be the cleanest, thriftiest, most technically advanced 3-Series ever–and no doubt the priciest.

What We Know About the 2012 BMW 3-Series

The next generation of BMW’s most popular model is coming a year sooner than originally planned, this despite a clean-sheet redesign for “the low-carbon age,” as Britain’s Autocar magazine puts it. Codenamed F30, the new 3-Series premium-compact line is reportedly designed and engineered for maximum fuel economy and minimum CO2 emissions without sacrificing traditional BMW style, performance, and roadability. The program also includes first-time 4-door hatchbacks likely to be called 3-Series Gran Turismo. They’re similar in concept to the 5-Series Gran Turismo launched for 2010. Like those premium-midsize models, the smaller hatchbacks will likely be marketed apart from other versions, hence our separate report on the 2012 BMW 3-Series Gran Turismo.

Britain’s CAR magazine expects the F30 line to debut at the autumn 2011 Frankfurt Auto Show. Autocar, however, says the GT model could arrive a bit earlier, just as the 5-Series GT preceded the redesigned 2011-model F10 5-Series sedans. The added body style and pulled-ahead launch timing are said to reflect concern at the Munich-based automaker over recent 3-Series sales declines, at least in some markets outside the U.S.

Typical of European automakers, the 2012 BMW 3-Series rollout will be led by mainstay-selling sedans. Redesigned wagons, coupes, and convertibles will follow at carefully calculated intervals. We expect the changeover to be completed by model-year 2014, with the high-performance M3 variants the last to arrive.

Autocar quotes BMW sources as saying the F30 is planned for an extra-long duty cycle of at least 10 model years, versus the company’s usual six to seven seasons. The British weekly also reports that even more significant technical changes are slated for a mid-cycle update due around 2016. These will involve a radical rethink of basic components that have not fundamentally changed in decades. BMW believes the revamping is necessary to accommodate advanced hybrid, plug-in hybrid, and pure-electric powertrains, all of which are planned for introduction over the F30’s extended lifespan.

After several years of striving for greater visual distinction among its model lines, BMW is going back to its “different-length sausages” tactic, meaning that all its cars, regardless of size, will look much like one another. As a result, the 2012 BMW 3-Series will employ the same major styling themes as the recently refurbished 5- and 7-Series cars. Compared with today’s E90 3-Series, the F30s will sport a more-rounded “shark-nose” front with a taller fascia, larger “twin-kidney” grilles, and a higher hood line, all to meet new European rules for minimizing pedestrian injuries. Big new “cat’s-eye” headlamps and larger front-bumper air intakes are also featured. Body sides will be sculpted with a bold C-shaped “character line” wrapping around convex and concave surfaces.

Spy photos of late-stage prototypes also confirm that the wheels will be pushed even further to the corners. This should combine with a somewhat larger envelope for more interior space. The upsizing is said to involve a wheelbase stretch of 1.5 inches to 110.2 inches, and axle tracks broadened by perhaps 2 inches front and rear, matched by like gains in overall width. The F30s should also be a bit longer than equivalent E90s but little, if any, taller. The new Gran Turismo will be the exception, thanks to a higher-profile body with more-elevated seating, like the 5-Series GT.

Source: consumerguideauto.howstuffwork

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