New BMW 3 Series revealed

14 Oct, 2011 5:15pm Dan Strong

The new BMW 3 Series has been unveiled at an exclusive preview event and we have the full details

The new BMW 3 Series is go. With a sleek look, upmarket interior and a range of fuel efficient engines, the new 3 Series will build on the appeal of its predecessor to deliver the luxury of the 5 Series in a smaller, more affordable package.

Video: Watch official footage of the new BMW 3 Series

On sale in the UK in February, the new 3 Series will make its public debut at the Detroit Motor Show in January 2012. The Audi A4 and Mercedes C-Class rival has more space and comfort than before but is also lighter and, according to BMW, better to drive.

In addition to petrol and diesels, BMW will add a full hybrid and a four-wheel-drive model to the range. There will also be more scope for personalisation than ever before.

The new 3 Series takes its lead from the latest 1 Series with the addition of Sport, Modern and Luxury trim levels to standard ES, SE and M Sport versions. 

Prices for the new car start at £24,880 for the entry-level 316d ES and top out at £35,525 for the 3.0-litre turbocharged six-cylinder 335i, which has 302bhp, can do 0-62mph in 5.5 seconds and has a 155mph top speed.

The highlight of the engine range for many buyers will be the 320d Efficient Dynamics which has a 161bhp 2.0-litre four-cylinder diesel, does 0-62mph in 8.0 seconds yet returns 68.9mpg and emits just 109g/km of CO2, making it tax-free in the first year.

Less than a month after the initial launch BMW will unveil 316d and 318d models with 114bhp and 141bhp respectively.

Sport models get unique alloys and black gloss trim with sports seats with red stitching, red highlighting, switchable ambient lighting and a sports steering wheel on the inside.

Modern models have matt chrome, unique bumpers and new 17-inch wheels, while inside there’s a two-tone finish to the dash and part cloth/part leather seats.

Luxury versions have bright chrome exterior trim and 18-inch alloys, with chrome detailing, leather upholstery and wood trim inside.

As for the more familiar trim levels, ES comes with air-con, 17-inch alloys Bluetooth and cruise control among other items, while SE versions add parking sensors, different wheels and dual-zone aircon. M Sport models get lowered and stiffened suspension, 18-inch M Sport wheels and leather sports seats.

Weight has been reduced by 50kg compared to the previous model and the new model also features a much stiffer body and an all-new chassis with a longer wheelbase (up 50mm to 2,810mm) along with wider tracks (up 37mm at the front and 47mm at the rear) to improve handling.

There is a substantial increase in overall length of 93mm too, and there’s more space inside. Indeed, there’s 15mm more knee-room and 8mm more headroom in the back, while luggage space has increased by 20-litres to 480-litres. 

Up front, the dashboard is angled toward the driver, but the iDrive controller and the 6.5-inch display screen that accompanies it (both are standard across the range) are arranged in the centre.
As you would expect the 3 Series is loaded with gadgets. All models come with Drive Performance Control, allowing the driver to swap between ECO PRO, Comfort, Sport and Sport+ (the latter available on Sport models). All cars have stop-start too.

Other gadgets making their 3 Series debut include Park Assist, which steers the car into a parallel parking spot, a Head-Up Display showing speed limits, and Dynamic Safety, which tensions the seatbelts and closes any open windows if its senses an imminent accident.     

For the first time in the 3 Series all the engines are turbocharged, including a 2.0-litre petrol engine that will power the 328i from 0-62mph in 5.9 seconds. The same engine will also be used in the 181bhp 320i. 

Making an even stronger case for company car drivers, BMW says it will have eight versions of the 3 Series on sale by March 2012 that emit less than 120g/km of CO2. Standard transmission is a six-speed manual gearbox, but a new eight-speed automatic gearbox has been introduced for the first time too. Towards the end of 2012, BMW launch xDrive four-wheel drive versions and the ActiveHybrid 3 which gets is essentially a 335i with a 40kW electric motor.

Disqus - noscript

Well what can I say? This may be a baby 5-Series, but this by far the best-looking car I've seen this year.

The chavy reps will be falling over themselves, i cannot think.of any other car with worse street cred than another bmw, if you have got no taste buy a bmw lmao

'but this by far the best-looking car I've seen this year.'

JPW2010, you need to get out more!

Lets hope the trim is better quality on the new BMW 3 series. Owners reported door handles sticking, central locking issues and various part of the interior trim falling off.
You can read the official BMW 3 series press release at

What does it matter what it looks like - it's a machine, not a p***s extension!
I have owned a '77 R60/7 and an '88 K100RT (as well as a '78 D207). The quality of the metal is better in earlier models. Buy 2nd-hand and get yourself a better vehicle and a better deal!

CONGRATULATIONS Auto EXPRESS......for the first time in ages actually quoting a Cd. Still missed by a mile with no weight. And you'd only say "not before time" to BMW. Couldnt care about the looks as I wont be buying one, but this article prattles on "it’s important not to underestimate just how much of the detailing has been reworked". How come the designers [?] cant get it together with joins and shutlines. They are gettiing close to Aston Martin standards [of design] then went and put a bloody obvious close for the bonnet above the propellor, when it could as easily have ended above the lights [less of a join problem] and run it across the top of the kidneys. Unless that bonnet is fitted with micron precision, the front shutline is going to stand out like the proverbial dogs bits. Expect they are still chasing Audi for assembly precision. The poverty models/rep mobiles will get all the street cred of those benzes they sell to half a million taxi drivers in Germany.

I've owned four 3 series cars - x3 e46's and x1 e91. I have to say the older BM's were far better styled than the ungainly, squashed looking Bangle era cars and I've gone right off the brand. After the 5 series, I thought they started to come back to their senses styling wise - until the mutt ugly 1 series arrived! Now this new 3 - looks like a safe reworking of the e90 (which wasn't a great design). So ... its a kind of safe step and at least its better looking than the old e90. Not sure about the lights though ... I think the C Class is a much better looking car. handling has improved a lot too and its now a genuine rival for the Bmer. Will reserve final judgement until I've seen the new 3 in the flesh and given it a test drive.

Yet the new 3 series 2.0 diesel has dropped back to 2005 year spec outputs and only offers 161 bhp? Sounds like an odd retrograde step... unless autoexpress has got only half the news and there are 2 versions of the 2.0 diesel??

Dame Edna travels in a Rolls Royce.

What can I say. Yet another ubiquitous 3 series that looks a lot like the last series and quite a bit like a 5 series - god preserve us!
I'd stick BMW's next to Moschino belts and Burberry handbags as the car every chav aspires to.

Looks like an old 3 series has been left on a Radiator to melt. Hideous and undoubtedly will be another illogical sales success.

At last the 3 series is sporty, aggressive and elegant. BMW will be laughing all the way to the bank. And for the haters, save some money up you might be able to afford it one day.

This is just change for change sake. It looks like the car from 2 models ago, i.e. the one before the E46, only uglier.

I quite liked it at first until looking at the side profile - the bonnet looks all wrong (like the new 1 series) and rather awkward. Maybe that's because of pedestrian impact considerations but I can't think of many other cars with these kind of weird proportions.

Looks like its going to take a few more generations before the damage done to BMW by Chris Bangle is finally fixed.

What a ridiculous amount of metal in front of the driver...

Perhaps BMW are looking to have passengers and driver seperated from the front bumper by a whole villages start and end?

Fussy, overstyled and trying to hard to be an Alfa...

It fails...

Another German four wheeled identity crisis!

Well you certainly have identified yourself as an ignorant cretin on this forum haven't you?!

I find it most amusing how you infer the reason why any person who chooses not to purchase a BMW is because they can't afford one. That's strange as the list price for the new M5 is considerably less than the vehicle that I'm currently driving yet according to you, I can't afford a BMW, therefore, I don't drive a BMW.
It can't possibly because I wish to distance myself from the reputation and stereotype of BMW drivers (in which you excel) or perhaps I dislike the styling, the recent quality issues, the limitations of not being able to purchase a right hand drive XDrive saloon or coupe, the limitations of driving one without XDrive in the snow in both this country and abroad, having to deal with the most attitude stricken and dellusional sales staff (I think we've just discovered the vocation or future vocation of 'Flash') when trying to purchase a vehicle with cash (and no I'm not talking about the deposit for the lending agreement 'Flash'), or any number of other possible reasons.

You are one of many who abuses the anonymity and distance this internet forum provides from reality. You hope that your words project you into an upper echelon, above those who can't afford what the almighty 'Flash' Gordon (!) can. Well, I have new that you're going to deny, this exists only in your mind. If you think that wealth makes one person better than another, or if an item of materialism represents the wealth of a person, or money represents their value; then I pity you. Loser.

I have to agree with MrWhat. Too many people seem to think a BMW is 'you have made it in life' but what they fail to realise just about every dog has a BMW now. It no longer has that prestigiousness it once had. Hence why some are saying chav, although I think that may be a bit too far. But its an everybody's car, jus like a Fiesta or Micra.
Give it a few more decades it would end up in the position that Ford had in the UK where they struggle to sell the Scorpio and Vauxhall the Omega and Peugeot the 607.
Would not be suprised they introduce more smaller Rolls Royce's then end sales of the 7 series in about 20 years time.

i don't mean to generalize, but in israel it seems to be the case.

i had the 550i in germany for a year. my first and last BMW....

First! AutoExpress, WTF???? Stop making the ads and video run automatically! Now, you can't even mute the damn things. We are not always in a private space when we have a minute to take a peek! It's more than annoying, it's quite rude. Stop!!!!

Secondly, each next BMW has become a slightly massaged version of the last. But, it seems they really know their target market. Most buyers are decidedly not enthusiasts, though a smaller and smaller few will always appreciate the engineering. But, even the engineering is becoming tiresome. The advanced electronics - though exciting to talk about and play with - honestly do little to enhance a real-world driving experience. And, they do zero to enhance reliability and the overall ownership experience. Put that energy into making these things stay together. I stopped buying BMWs because I realized I had gotten to know my mechanic better than most people in my life!


Isn't this auto-play video getting in the way? Let them know!

3 series never looked good but they do drive well..

I have a problem with it's image, it seems the BMW 3 Series has been a victim of it's own success becoming so popular to the extent of even outselling Ford in some segments! It's become abit like Halfords all things to all people! When I buy a car costing around £24,000 onwards I don't want to be associated with a chav image. So for that reason and also the fact that BMW was a former bubble car maker in the 1960's has put me off the marque, no matter how good the car is. I'll stick to Alfa Romeo and Audi thanks.

love the look of the new 3 series, especially the front very agressive, shame BMW didnt make the new 1 series look more like this! 2012 is looking to be a exciting year for new cars with cars like this, the volkswagen up (and family), citroen ds5, new panda, and beetle. I cant wait to see what else is on its way.

I think BMW have done a nice job on this new 3 series - it looks great particularly the front end - in fact I think its one of smartest looking cars in its class. Nice job.

Wish Ford would bring back something RWD to buy again.

Low volume quality producer BMW 3 Series has outsold the mass produced Mondeo every year since 2006. 2010 sales were BMW 3 Series 42,022 v Mondeo 30,115 sales.

Bring back a modern RWD Cortina that averaged nearly 200,000 sales every year in the UK in its last few years as it faced the axe, the Mondeo is an absolute joke that nobody wants.

Looks like the rot will continue at Ford sad to say.

All I can say Richie767 is that I agree that Ford do miss the RWD option but the Mondeo is an excellent drivers car that more people would appreciate if they would only give it the time of day and test drive one! Ford have come a really long way since the stuff they built in the 90's!!

Well said OMG and Abdurrmann.
Yes, its better looking than the 1 series but thats not saying much!

At last. a BMW that has a little style.
Its no style icon, but at least its not as ugly as the cars BMW have been serving up since Chris Bangle ruined the brand.
They need to get back to a design that isn't ugly and brutish.
The revamped 1 series proves they still haven't rid themselves of the Bangle "Mantra"

The advertisements at the beginning is what pays for us being able to read these editorials, so why complain about them?

I like the fact that the shape has changed very slightly, which means that person owning the older models won’t feel like they’re driving an outdated car, even if the brought it second hand. I don’t know what to make of the bonnet stopping before it reaches that obvious plastic facia/grille. It looks rather untidy and detracts from what otherwise would have made the car look much better. The same thing was observed on the 5 series.

I like the selection and wide range of engines and that all the models are turbocharged. Once you drive a turbo, you never want to step foot in anything again. It will also open the door to an unlimited amount of aftermarket tuning; that is if you care to tune an already expensive car. At 35,000 quid, this is not cheap by any means, even though more people are able to afford one.

I like the facts about the extra length and reduced weight etc, and I would have liked to know which models will have 4WD. For instance we know that the only the previous US model 335i was equipped with 4WD. Have they upgraded the UK model now? I cannot imagine living in a Country with snow, without 4WD. In quoting the power output, it is useless to tell us the HP without mentioning the torque, as this is the real measure of a car. And what of the M3? No mention is made of this at all, even to mention that it is yet to come; or is the M3 no longer considered a 3 series? Whatever the category, I hope that BMW will do justice to the new M3, which has been totally outclassed for the past few models.


You have clearly not been in a Ford for a while. I run a leasing company and I can promise you that they are always very well received by our customers, many of whom are genuinely surprised at just how good the vehicle is. As for my money, the Ford S-Max is the best car £ for £ on the market today. The only criticism I would have of them is that they lack an 'excitement' model, but as for quality they are as good as almost anyone.

You think that an Audi isn't classed as a chav car? Dear Lord, they have become the most common and boring brand around. What;'s more Audi/VW are taking the proverbial p155 with their UK customers as far as supply is concerned. We are seeing some clients moving back to BMW simply because of this. Everyone knows that all the twats and wannabees now drive an Audi (that's not to say that ALL Audi drivers are twats of course).

This BMW will do well simply because of whether it stands or falls on its merits, and for the majority of it's target market (the Business User driver) it will hit many spots from the driving, status and financial perspectives.

@richie767 and co.

I still believe the 3 series is a competitor for the Focus and not the Mondeo, because price is not the key decision maker for car buyers in the UK to me. I think size is more important. Mondeo buyers would never settle for a 3 Series, because it is too small in comparison... the Mondeo is really a Granada or Scorpio that is now selling well. The real replacement for the Cortina has become the Focus. And yes, the buyers would probably love a RWD Ford the size of a 3 series, but that would split sales with the Focus, and make no business sense as it would be more expensive than the Focus yet more or less the same size. So in all reality, the Focus outsells the BMW 3 series every year. And the Mondeo steals sales away from the more prestigious BMW 5 Series, as the buyers looking for space suddenly realise they can make do with a Mondeo and lose nothing in comfort. Just losing the snob appeal.

@Kwashi - Focus and the 3 Series are competitors? That is the stupidest comment in the history of comments on the internet!

@Kwashi - Focus and the 3 Series are competitors? That is the stupidest comment in the history of comments on the internet!

I'm going to put this one on my shortlist. very nice car with some promising engines and fuel efficiency. I just got very sick of seeing black E90s.

Out of the woodwork they crawl. At every new release the BMW haters come out and denegrate the brand. Hey, if you don't like it don't buy it. Simple!
It must be galling for them to see the enormous success each new car enjoys.
What can we be thinking???? Why would anyone want to buy a modern, efficient, best engined, rewarding car to drive like a BMW. As a 6 times new BMW owner I must be a major wanker.
Well you are entitled to your petty insulting jibes, but really -- get a life.
They don't always get the styling perfect - I'm not a Bangle fan myself - but they seem to be getting past those errors, and the styling is now amongst the best out there.
Times are tough right now and I can't afford to replace my 2004 645ci with the new model, maybe the 3 coupe when it comes out? But I think I'll take a miss on the sports interior - it's a little boy racer-ish.
BMW haters - enjoy your Fiats, Fiestas & Golfs, don't worry about BMW's.

I have always admired the quality of engineering and build quality of BMW's. But its about time they had a major rethink of their styling. Its never changed for 20 to 30 years. Like porsche its out of date.
Come on BMW, wake up!

Another same old boring BMW, they are old man's cars these days like Mercedes. Give me Audi interior quality and design any day, BMW are yesterday's news!

I would sit all day and feel good in an Audi, I would sit in a BMW and know everyone sees the badge, then I would be wishing I bought the Audi instead!

With today's fuel prices no one cares about high powered engines any more, so manufacturers need to get electric drive out!

Cars are getting more and more expensive because of the need for very expensive exhaust control and it's going to get a lot worse, so we need electric!

Oh dear old chap, mere opinion, including yours. If you dont agree, too bad. We're all unique one-off individuals, and here's the killer......there's no accounting for taste. Probably think thats an insult but think about it and its a compliment.

Is this really a site/forum for car enthusiasts or whatt??
You haters have to see that you're a minority out there. Yes there's reliability issues with BMW, but then its the same with most manufacturers these days. Everyone somewhere has a problem with something.
As for the Bangle bashing. Well I'm just glad BMW gave the fella a chance- would have loved to see more of his work. Most interesting and innovative designer to come out of anywhere in ages. Such was the strength of his work, most of you reading this now will own cars from companies all over the globe, that have been designed by people who have all been influence'd by Chris Bangle.
All those fancy creases on the sides of countless Mercs. The almost horizontal ridge that runs from the base of the door windows, out to the (almost standard on every make and model of car) crease/seam usually level with the door handles.
Convex/concave surfacing on every other bonnet, flank, wing. You've all been Banglized. Love it!
More importantly though. Who can fault BMW engineering? Less fuel, more range. Smaller engines, more power and speed. More rules and regulations to tend with, yet they still make an effort to build cars that are exciting to drive.
The long and the short of it seems to be this.. Chavs love to drive and especially like cars that drive well. Clever lot these chavs! I think they understand that no matter how a car looks, if it doesn't drive right then the looks don't count for much- Audi/Alfa

I just thought people still bought BMW's during his reign because of the way the cars drive or the customer's opinion of the badge.
I personally think that Bangle's designs are some of the most ridiculous looking abomonations ever seen; I've seen better cars drawn by 5 year olds. Being different and not bland doesn't have to mean ludicrously ugly. Bangle's original 7 series was just an exercise in pure arrogance - i.e. "Look at me, aren't I great for convincing BMW to actually build this stupid looking thing".
And yes, good point raised about a lot of people driving cars influenced by Bangle - all of them ugly too, or at least having their weakest styling influences inspired by him.
When I buy a car, I don't like the bodywork to look like it's already been in a crash.
This is all my opinion of course, neither right or wrong, and if it causes offence or a stream of insulting posts, well that's your problem not mine. But being a car enthusiast, that's why I feel the need to criticise Bangle for clothing some of the world's finest engineering in the ugliest bodywork ever seen.

Same old BMW - most people wouldn't notice the differences between the new version and the current model. Perhaps Autoexpress could run a 'spot the difference' competition? It would be a bit of a challenge! First prize a BMW, second prize, 2 BMWs - :-)

I agree with the earlier poster that the video ads are very intrusive on the AE site.

Just the people who drive them.. They seem to think they are superior to every other driver on the road, the ultimate drivers maybe??? ..

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