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BMW set to hatch 3 Series compact

Truncated: The new 3 Series compact uses essentially the same underpinnings as its sedan sibling but its styling clearly sets it apart.

BMW will position the new 3 Series compact more or less in line with its predecessor

10 Jul 2001

BMW has announced pricing and specification for its new 3 Series compact models, due on sale here in late October.

The new lineup comprises two models - 316ti and 318ti - powered by 1.8 and 2.0-litre engines respectively. Both powerplants are equipped with BMW's new Valvetronic technology, which is claimed to deliver improved performance and economy.

The 1.8-litre engine used in the 316ti produces 85kW of power and 175Nm of torque while the 2.0-litre unit in the 318ti cranks out 105kW and 200Nm.

A five-speed manual transmission is standard - but a Steptronic five-speed auto is available as an option.

Pricing has increased slightly, starting at $41,750 for the entry-level 316ti and $46,900 for the 318ti. The outgoing 316i, discontinued in May, was priced from $40,300, while the 318ti cost from $45,505.

BMW says the new-generation Valvetronic engines are designed to provide effortless driving characteristics, with maximum torque on tap from 3750rpm.

The manufacturer claims the 316ti can accelerate from 0-100 km/hr in 10.9 seconds while the 318ti performs the sprint in 9.3 seconds. Combined cycle fuel consumption is quoted at 6.9 l/100km for the 316ti and 7.2 l/100km for the 318ti.

The compact features essentially the same front and rear suspension and steering set-up as its 3 Series sedan siblings.

It uses front springs and struts with forged aluminium track control arms, rack-and-pinion steering and rear central arm axle with two sleeve gas pressure dampers and anti-roll bar.

BMW says the compact's inherent 50/50 weight distribution endows it with grip and handling unmatched by its competitors.

The standard equipment list is generous, comprising eight airbags (including ITS Side Head Airbags) air-conditioning, in-dash CD player, 15-inch (316ti) or 16-inch (318ti) alloy wheels, rear windscreen wiper, sports seats, leather sports steering wheel and front fog lights (318ti only).

Also included at no extra cost are CBC (Cornering Brake Control), ASC+T (Automatic Stability Control + Traction) and anti-lock brakes.

Although 21cm shorter than its sedan siblings, the new 3 Series compact is claimed to be a versatile package and load capacity can be extended from 310 litres to 1100 litres by folding down the rear seats.

A low loading lip along with a high-opening tailgate makes it easier to load large objects in the cargo area.

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