2012 BMW 3 Series Sedan: First Look

2013 BMW 3 Series

  • Competes with: Mercedes-Benz C-Class, Infiniti G37, Audi A4
  • Looks like: A little bit bigger outside, just a teensy bit bigger inside
  • Drivetrain: 240-hp, 2.0-liter twin-turbocharged inline-four cylinder; 300-hp, twin-turbo 3.0-liter inline-six cylinder; 335-hp, twin-turbo 3.0-liter inline-six cylinder hybrid powertrain; six-speed manual transmission and eight-speed automatic transmission; rear- or all-wheel drive
  • Hits dealerships: February 2012

BMW has worked judiciously over the past few years to improve its fleetwide gas mileage, and that mantra continues today with BMW’s best-seller: the 3 Series.

Besides an all-new design that makes the car slightly larger, the redesigned 2013 BMW 3 Series makes news with the addition of a four-cylinder powertrain and a hybrid system. Other fuel-efficiency measures include a lighter curb weight, smarter automatic transmission and auto start-stop and regenerative braking technology. Despite the new green emphasis, BMW promises that the new 3 Series will be faster and handle better than the outgoing model.

The new 240-horsepower inline-four comes standard on the 328i — the same engine has already shown up on the BMW 5 Series and Z4. BMW says the new engine will be powerful — it makes 10 more hp compared with the outgoing I-6 — and will propel the 328i from zero to 60 mph in 5.7 seconds with a top speed of 130 mph, and 155 mph with the Sport Line trim.

The 328i also features an auto start-stop system and regenerative braking with either a six-speed manual transmission or a new eight-speed automatic transmission. The eight-speed is the first of its kind for a compact luxury sedan, BMW says.  The automaker will release fuel economy figures closer to the launch of the 3 Series early next year.

The 335i twin-turbocharged inline-six carries over, now producing 300 hp. Probably the most exciting news is the addition of the ActiveHybrid 3 model, which features the same hybrid powertrain found on the 2012 BMW ActiveHybrid 5. The automaker is quoting a near-37 mpg figure in combined European fuel consumption testing (adjusted to U.S. measurements). That would easily put the ActiveHybrid 3 among the top fuel misers here. Rear-wheel drive and all-wheel drive (335i xDrive and 328i xDrive) are available.

All powertrains come with new controls that modify powertrain management: Comfort, Sport, Sport + and Eco Pro. Eco Pro mode promises to reduce fuel consumption by as much as 20%.

No word if there will still be a diesel option or whether the hybrid model is meant to replace it.

The new exterior sheet metal gives the 3 Series a wider and meaner-looking stance. The wider look isn’t all smoke and mirrors, either: The new platform’s track is 1.45 inches wider, and the wheelbase is 1.85 inches longer than before.

The larger external dimensions make for a roomier cabin, but just slightly. There’s 0.71 inches of additional legroom and 0.31 inches more rear knee room, BMW says. The redesigned interior is more driver-focused; the center stack is tilted slightly toward the driver, leaving a large, clean expanse of wood- or matte silver-finished trim on the passenger side. The display unit is now free-standing, on top of the dash, when equipped. The car is equipped with either leatherette or real leather upholstery.

A new extensive list of tech features includes a color head-up display, surround view monitoring system that gives a compressive Infiniti-like bird’s-eye view, self-parking system, lane departure warning system, camera-based collision warning system ... the list goes on. The BMW will also feature an optional hands-free trunk opener, which opens the trunk by waving one foot underneath the rear of the car. (We saw something similar on the aborted Ford C-Max.)

The 3 Series sedan will go on sale in February. All-wheel-drive models will go on sale in the summer. The ActiveHybrid 3 will go on sale nearly a year from now, in fall 2012. 

2013 BMW 3 Series

2013 BMW 3 Series

2013 BMW 3 Series

2013 BMW 3 Series

2013 BMW 3 Series

2013 BMW 3 Series

2013 BMW 3 Series

2013 BMW 3 Series

2013 BMW 3 Series

2013 BMW 3 Series

2013 BMW 3 Series

2013 BMW 3 Series

2013 BMW 3 Series

2013 BMW 3 Series

BMW ActiveHybrid 3

BMW ActiveHybrid 3

Comments 

WTF

Shrunken 5-series look but shocking it's bigger than the last generation. Why?

Mike

Hmmm...Not much of a re-design. I predict the Audi A4 will take the place of the 3 as the benchmark in this class. This is a bit disappointing.

Ken L.

I wonder how long a 2.0 liter twin turbo charged 4 banger with 240 hp will last in the real world? Probably as long as the warranty on these things?

mm

The best 4 cyl by far, Mercedes is far behind again. Audi had the right idea of turbo 4, but needs to update it. Not a shrunken 5, but a better 3. I love it, also like 7, but 5 is not a luxury or sport, it is a miss...

Chris K

Oh no, is that the auto shifter from the 5 series? That thing is AWFUL. It's not a moving shifter, it's a momentary lever like a joystick.

As a 2011 328xi owner, I'd love the HUD and the parking cameras, but despite the better mileage I think I'd prefer the I6 in my 2011 E90. I didn't even bother checking out the A4 because I don't like the feel of turbo 4's, and with all the problems BMW has had with their turbo 6's I'm not too eager to buy one of those, either.

Surely the 5.7sec 0-60 time for the 4-banger 328 is an error? That's about the same as the current 335i, and MUCH faster than the current 328i.

Still the same old cupholder-less cabin. I don't care if BMW thinks drinks have no place in a car... I do, and BMW sucks at cupholders.

The new front end sure is mean looking. Can I buy a new front clip for my 2011, BMW? ;)

George

E39 5-series sized.

Did BMW finally abandon run-flats?

sheth

I like the wheels. Exterior is predictable and less appealing than current car. Interior is expected upgade but nothing new or threatening to the competition. Bmw added a lot of content to this car that driving enthusiasts likelyy don't care about. Its more luxury than sport at this point.

Chris K,
in fact the new 3 has regular cupholders like the new 5 series. They fixed that.

d

nice 2 see they finally put the turn signals in the mirrors instead of the fender! Nice headlites but looks very similar from the side just like new Camry! & Y do they gotta make all Bimmers look alike??

d

oh & those orange gauges are very Circa 1995!

55

What an ugly, high nose and with a scar on the hood too. Not good..

cody

i love this 3 series. i haven't 'loved' a bmw since the 90's! i especially like that bmw avoided the current trend of raising the belt line. i'm getting tired of feeling like i'm sitting in a tank when i get in some of these newer designs. compromising visibility for the sake of style isn't a smart compromise in my book.

WTF

Identity crisis continues at BMW. Used to be Ultimate Driving Machine...now Ultimate Luxury Machine that's sporty

Nic

I want to say they are wrong about being the first for an 8 speed in a compact luxury. The Lexus IS-F has had an 8 speed since it's birth.

sheth

nic:

They mean first in class for the entry level lux class. The isf starts at 60k or so and is a fraction of is sales. The 3 seriesis first sedan in this class to have 8 speed as standard auto trans.

Belly

Really Nic, if anyone is going to correct the staff at Cars.com it has to be Shet.

Nic

Forgetting about price it's still not a true statement however you want to try and justify it. Click enough options and one of the 3 series can balloon to over 60k. Technically the IS-F had it first.

Nic

And no need for a reply. I understand your point. I just think they should have worded it differently instead of acting like it is something special.

Nic

And no need for a reply. I understand your point. I just think they should have worded it differently instead of acting like it is something special.

WTF

BMW said "first of its kind". That doesn't necessarily mean they are talking about the number of gears.

Chris K

Really, David? I didn't see them in the photos here. That's WONDERFUL news. The pop-out ones in my 2011 328 are useful only for cans and a very small cross-section of cup sizes. And even then they hold cups very precariously.

For the orange gauges, the old car has them too. I like them. They are soothing at night but easy to read in all brightness levels. White face gauges are nicer in the day but not great at night. Green is bad all the time, and I can only imagine that blue is blinding at night, although I've never driven a car with them.

A

What a great looking car. Anyone that compares to the new 5 and says it's a bad thing is crazy; they can't keep those in stock right now. When my lease is up I will be leasing a 328i xdrive.

PS. IS-F is a joke. Best drivers car: M3, Raw power and noise: C63, Waste of money: IS-F.

Kelly Van Rijn

UGLY! What is up with those headlights? And the leading edge of the hood- why a line that cuts across the front end instead of a single hood that integrates nicely into the kidney grill? BWM got really lazy this time around. There is a reason Audi has been eating into their sales...

Xevin

Wow..a 2013 car with a 1995 grill!


That line that separates the hood and front end is hideous btw!

Raj

Styling not exciting at all. A 4 cylinder? Since when are Americian worried about gas mileage? I know Canadians would like to have a 4 cylinder opition in a 7 series if it was practicial? I am pretty sure the zero to 60 was due to the 8 speed. BTW, who need 8 gears!!! I have the E90 and the 6 gears seems useless! The gears still need to be spaced out otherwise you loose time shifting (automatics too). 2.0L turbo=poor throttle response. The Eletronic throttle with the 8 speed will be working over time on this model to make it feel ok. My E90 2.5L is lacking low end grunt!

M

I saw it in person the other day and I was so disappointed by how low the front is and how the flow of the car just lacks the harmony of the 5 series or even the old 3 series coupe. It is a step up from the old 3 series sedan given it's ugly back, but I still won't be getting this one. I loved the interior though.

Lou


WTF is with the headlamps & the car looks pretty much the same as the previous model. This guys simply ran out of ideas.
It's ugly as hell. I wouldn't drive it even they gave to me for free.

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