BMW's latest heads-up display technology is making its debut in the upcoming 2012 3 Series. According to the automaker, the revised system is the first of its kind to feature a full color display, and will roll out as an optional feature in the remainder of BMW's models in the near future.

Originally introduced in the 2004 5 Series, the so-called "Head-Up Display" conveniently projects basic information like audio selection, navigation system directions and the vehicle's speed to the windshield directly ahead of the driver. Today's system, which uses a monochromatic color scheme, is available in nearly all BMW models at a cost of $1,300.

But while Head-Up Display has been continuously fine-tuned over the years, BMW says the most recent iteration is the best - and the safest. That's because the added colors aren't included just to look better, but to actually improve vehicle safety by providing a more intuitive display. That helps drivers recognize crucial alerts faster, and ensures they can take necessary action sooner than with traditional warning lights or the previous heads-up display.

Despite the benefits of the new system, BMW points out that it's not just the full-color readout that makes its Head-Up Display worth considering. According to the automaker, the typical driver takes about a second to read the speedometer or glance at the navigation system - two functions that can be eliminated with the feature. In a car without the system, that second can mean travelling more than 15 yards at just 30 miles per hour with virtually no driver attention on the road.

Expected to go on sale nationwide in February, the fully redesigned 2012 3 Series features a host of revisions and upgrades. Among them is a turbocharged four-cylinder engine for the base-level 328i, a newly optional eight-speed automatic transmission, updated styling and larger dimensions. A hybrid version of the popular 3 Series is also expected sometime in the near future.

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Jeffrey Archer is fortunate to have turned a passion for cars into a career. His wide-ranging automotive experience includes work for automakers and dealers in addition to covering the news. When not writing, he spends his time searching for unique cars on AutoTrader.com.

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