BMW adds a performance diesel to the U.S. lineup, but no seven-speed dual clutch.
BMW has released the first official pictures of the new 3-series sedan and wagon that will be unveiled this fall at the 2009 Paris auto show, prior to going on sale in North America in October.
The changes are not jaw-dropping—we didn’t expect BMW to mess too much with a car that remains the benchmark small luxury sedan—but the changes are noticeable. The 3-series picks up design elements from the all-new 2009 7-series with fresh front and rear styling. Slab sides and blunt fascias of the past have been given more elegance and character, new headlights and taillights bookmark the upgraded look, and there is a newly contoured hood. The familial resemblance will continue on the forthcoming new 5-series, which we have only seen spy photos of.
The big news for the U.S. is the addition of the 335d with BMW’s new twin-turbo, 3.0-liter, inline-six diesel engine with common-rail direct injection in November. It should deliver 286 hp at 4400 rpm with an engine BMW describes as its most powerful and lightweight diesel six-cylinder. Its Variable Twin Turbo system uses a small turbocharger initially at low engine speeds—working to avoid turbo lag—and as engine speed increases, the second and larger turbocharger kicks in. BMW claims the 335d will go 0-to-62 mph in 6.0 seconds in the sedan and 6.1 seconds in the wagon.
The 3.0-liter gasoline six (with twin-turbos in the 335i), is unchanged in the U.S. models. While the 325i in Europe gets direct injection, it does not spill over to the 328i for North America.
The European lineup consists of five diesel and five gasoline options for a lineup that includes the 318i, 318d, 320i, 320d, 325i, 325d, 330i, 330d, 330xd, 335i, and 335d. To save fuel, all have brake-energy regeneration and auto start/stop.
Transmissions also are unchanged on this side of the ocean, meaning the six-speed automatic remains. For Europe, BMW announces that the seven-speed double-clutch automated manual is available on the 335i coupe and convertible. All U.S. officials will say is it is not in the cards for the U.S. for 2009. Our 2009 coupe and convertible keep the same look, so there is hope that when these body styles make their styling changes, the new tranny is part of the enhancements—likely for 2010.
Like its bigger brothers, the 3-series will get the next-gen iDrive system when equipped with an optional navigation system. In Europe, it can pull routes from the internet as BMW plans the world premier of ConnectedDrive which offers internet use inside the vehicle (when stopped) as an option. The data would stream in via EDGE technology, similar to that used by Blackberries—but it is not available in the U.S. What we are promised: the oft-hated controller knob of the iDrive system will provide “fast and intuitive menu selection.” We’re anxious to prove them right.
The 3-series gets BMW’s xDrive all-wheel-drive system as an option with some models, including Europe’s 320xd which is the first pairing of xDrive with a four-cylinder engine in a 3-series.
Interior improvements include new trim combinations, more accessible electric window controls, a new 8.8-inch color monitor, 80-gigabyte hard disc to store satellite navigation software and MP3 music files.