Styling changes are likely to include only minor revisions to the front end, including a more angular front bumper, a slightly smaller kidney grille set-up and modified air intakes.
BMW will instead focus most of its efforts on updating the in-car tech by adding the latest form of its ConnectedDrive infotainment and driver assist systems, backed up by a few new dials and controls.
There’ll also be a fairly thorough overhaul under the bonnet, with three-cylinder engines expected for the first time in the 3 Series’ history. These 1.5-litre petrol and diesel units will be borrowed from the all-new MINI and upcoming 2 Series Active Tourer, and could be offered in a number of models in future, such as the next 5 Series.
BMW’s newly revised 2.0-litre diesel engine, as currently found in the X3, is set to join the range, too. This now gets 188bhp, 400Nm of torque and should return slightly better economy figures as well.
The German manufacturer has so far refused to be drawn on when the facelifted 3 Series will be unveiled, but a 2015 debut now seems likely – possibly at the Detroit Motor Show in January, before going on sale shortly after.
Any price increase should be fairly modest therefore, to help the 3 Series stay competitive, with the new three-cylinders starting from around £24,000.