The Car and Truck Fleet and Leasing Management Magazine

BMW Introduces New 3 Series Sedan

October 20, 2011

The Sport Line edition of the new 3 Series Sedan.
The Sport Line edition of the new 3 Series Sedan.

WOODCLIFF LAKE, NJ – BMW has introduced the sixth generation of its 3 Series Sedan. The new vehicle features a number of changes, including a new turbocharged four-cylinder engine in the BMW 328i, a new 8-speed transmission, and a range of safety and infotainment features.

The new 3 Series sedan comes in three trim levels, the Sport Line, Luxury Line, and Modern Line, as well as an M Sport package. BMW said the all-new BMW 3 Series Sedan will arrive at US BMW dealerships in February 2012 as a 2012 model.


For the U.S. edition of the 3 Series sedan, BMW is offering two engines, the six-cylinder N55 engine in the 335 and the new turbocharged four-cylinder (N20) variant. The new BMW TwinPower Turbo four-cylinder engine can delivers maximum horsepower of 240 hp at 5,000 rpm while. The engine can develop maximum torque of 260 lb.-ft. at 1,250 rpm. BMW said it will remain constant up to 4,800 rpm. The automaker hasn’t yet announced fuel-economy numbers for its new four-cylinder engine.

For the six-cylinder engine, the automaker said that in the EU test cycle, the vehicle gets 29.8 mpg. When equipped with the new eight-speed transmission, BMW said the engine will achieve mpg of 32.6. In terms of performance, maximum horsepower is 300 at 5,800 rpm. Peak torque is 300 lb.-ft. between 1,200 and 5,000 rpm.

The new 3 Series also offers different driving modes, Comfort, Sport, Sport +, and a fuel-efficient ECO PRO mode. BMW said it will add another engine to the 3 Series lineup in 2012 when it launches the ActiveHybrid 3.

A sport version of the new 8-speed automatic transmission is available as an option for cars equipped with the Sport Line and M Sport package.


For the vehicle’s exterior design, it has a wider front track by 1.46 inches, is 3.66 inches longer, and has a 1.96-inch longer wheelbase. Its wider stance lends it a more “athletic” appearance, according to BMW. One new feature is the addition of vertical intakes that help create what BMW calls an “air curtain.” The automaker said this technology improves air flow around the front wheels, enhancing aerodynamic efficiency and reducing fuel consumption at higher speeds. The automaker said it used a range of lightweight components in the vehicle’s design.

The optional High-Beam Assistant for the new BMW 3 Series Sedan automatically switches the high beams on and off, as conditions require. Images recorded by the camera integrated into the rear-view mirror allow the system to identify vehicles travelling up to around approximately one-quarter of a mile in front. The system detects oncoming traffic is picked up when it is just under three-quarters of a mile away, and the system also switches to low beam if ambient lighting is bright enough.


The cockpit in the M Sport edition.
The cockpit in the M Sport edition.

Inside the new 3 Series sedan, BMW said passengers will enjoy more space, with 0.71 inches of extra legroom , 0.6 inches of additional knee room, and 0.31 inches of extra headroom. The automaker said the trunk has enough space to hold three golf bags. The 40:20:20 split rear back seats offer additional cargo flexibility. The seat backs have nets for storage, the front doors have larger pockets, and the cup holders can be swapped out for a small storage tray.

In terms of the vehicle’s basic instruments, the fuel gauge, speedometer, tachometer and oil temperature gauge are shown on a black panel display.

If the optional Comfort Access is specified, the trunk can be opened hands-free and without needing to use a key. Standing behind the car, customers can open the trunk by moving their foot under the center of the rear bumper. The trunk will then automatically unlock and swing open.

The new 3 Series offers an optional Navigation system with Real-Time Traffic Information (RTTI). Positioned on the center console within reach of the driver and the front passenger is the standard iDrive Controller. BMW’s ConnectedDrive system offers a range of Web-based services, such as weather and news etc., as well as calendar entries and text-based messages (SMS and e-mail) that can be viewed in the Control Display of the iDrive operating system and read out via the Text to Speech function.

In addition, passengers can access a personal music library on a smartphone or music player inside the car. The BMW Connected app allows full in-car use of Web radio and calendar functions in combination with the Apple iPhone. In addition to Web radio music streaming serves such as Pandora and MOG can be accessed safely and conveniently through the iDrive controller and screen.


When it comes to safety systems, the new 3 Series sedan offers a range of safety systems. First, BMW’s ConnectedDrive system offers the latest-generation of the company’s full-color Head-Up Display, which appears directly in the driver’s field of view. Also available is the Surround View option, with Side View and Top View, which gives a bird’s-eye perspective of the vehicle and the area around it.

Making its debut in the BMW 3 Series Sedan, the Top View system provides an even more extensive overview of the car. This system complements the rear view camera and PDC sensors, and works using two cameras in the exterior mirrors. The system generates an overall bird’s eye view of the vehicle and displays it on the on-board monitor.

The vehicle offers an optional Parking Assistant for automatic parallel parking as well. 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 rear view camera is also available for the new BMW 3 Series Sedan as an extension of the Park Distance Control (PDC) system. PDC uses sensors in the bumpers to detect the distance to obstacles in front of and behind the car.

The new BMW 328i uses lightweight floating caliper brakes at all corners with large vented discs, while the 335i uses 4-piston fixed calipers at the front and floating calipers at the rear.

The brake system is supported by various electronic safety systems, which are integrated into the Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) system. The DSC system incorporates the following functions: Anti-lock Braking System (ABS), Automatic Stability Control (ASC), Dynamic Traction Control (DTC), Dynamic Brake Control (DBC), and Cornering Brake Control (CBC), along with start-off assist, brake drying and an electronic limited slip function for the rear differential, which can be activated using the “DSC Off” button.

The 3 Series sedan comes with standard front and side airbags for the driver and front passenger plus head airbags for both rows of seats. All seats are fitted with three-point inertia-reel seat belts, and the driver and front passenger also have belt latch tensioners and belt force limiters. Also part of standard specification are ISOFIX child seat attachment points for the rear seats.

Trim Levels

Front seats in the M Sport Package.
Front seats in the M Sport Package.

The Sport Line features exterior features in high-gloss black. It comes with two-color double-spoke 18-inch alloy wheels. The standard sports seats can be specified in a choice of two upholstery styles and three colors.

The Luxury Line trim level features discreet high-gloss chrome exterior elements, including chrome exhaust tips. It comes with 18-inch light-alloy wheels in a multi-spoke design. This line gives the radio and air conditioning units a chrome surround. It also features high-gloss wood trim (with available inlays) and seats with distinctive stitching and leather upholstery in three available colors.

The Modern Line features satin aluminum design elements, 18-inch turbine-style light-alloy wheels, leather upholstery in oyster or black, and a choice of three trim surfaces with accent strips in pearl-effect chrome.

The M Sport package offers 18- and 19 -inch light-alloy wheels in hallmark M design, M Sport suspension, a black kidney grille, and BMW Individual High-gloss Shadowline trim. The theme continues inside the car with sports seats offering distinctive upholstery choices, trim elements with blue accent strips, an M Short-shifter (in models with manual gearbox), M door sill covers, an M driver’s footrest and the new M leather steering wheel.

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