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Auto Show:  2012 Detroit Auto Show

2012 BMW 3 Series: Detroit Auto Show


author photo by Jeffrey Archer January 2012
  • BMW's sixth generation 3 Series includes updated interior and exterior styling designed to mimic 5 Series and 7 Series models.
  • The 328i features a new turbocharged four-cylinder powerplant that replaces last year's six-cylinder.
  • The 3 Series sedan goes on sale in February; coupe, convertible and wagon body styles are likely close behind.

BMW chose this year's North American International Auto Show in Detroit to debut the sixth generation of its popular 3 Series sedan, known internally as the "F30." Although the automaker revealed photos of the 2012 3 Series last fall, this year's Detroit show marks the first time BMW has officially shown the sport sedan, which includes updated styling, new engines, a revamped interior and a host of new features.

The most noticeable update to the all-new 3 Series comes to its exterior styling, which is revised to take several cues from BMW's recently updated 5 Series and 7 Series sedans. Up front, the new 3 Series includes narrower, sporty new headlights and a revised hood that includes a significant power bulge. Updates to the sedan's rear end include new LED tail lights designed to mimic the 5 Series and a new rear bumper. Other subtle tweaks include a more pronounced profile line down the sedan's side, new wheels and sporty dual exhausts.

BMW also tweaked the interior of its all-new 3 Series, adding a larger center stack with new controls for the radio and climate control, a wider center console and a new pop-up navigation screen that replaces its predecessor's fixed unit. Other updates include a stylized new dashboard, a new steering wheel, revised door panels and even new seats.

Under the hood, the 2012 3 Series sedan also undergoes several changes. While 335i and 335d models will retain last year's muscular motors, the new 328i trades in its turbocharged 6-cylinder powerplant for an all-new 2.0-liter four-cylinder, which features a turbocharger and direct injection. According to BMW, that engine produces 240 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque and can propel the sedan to 60 mph from a standing stop in just 5.7 seconds. BMW is also showing off an all-new hybrid variant of the 3 Series in Detroit, which we've covered in a separate story.

The redesigned 3 Series also debuts several important new features. According to BMW, the model will gain an industry first full-color heads-up display, which projects important vehicle information onto the windshield ahead of the driver. Other new goodies include four driving models ranging from Eco to Sport+, an optional 8-speed automatic transmission, and a standard auto start/stop system, which shuts off the sedan's engine when stopped to improve fuel economy.

Although BMW hasn't made it official, the debut of a new 3 Series sedan means the model's coupe, convertible and station wagon variants likely aren't far off - and some rumors indicate the popular model line may be joined by an all-new hatchback. For now, we can be sure that the sedan goes on sale next month with base prices starting at $36,650 for the 328i and $44,150 for the powerful 335i.

What it means to you: The king of sport sedans just got better.

This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
2012 BMW 3 Series: Detroit Auto Show - Autotrader