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More engines to arrive in BMW 3 Series before 2020

Entry-level, plug-in and performance petrol powertrains due in BMW 3 Series

BMW logo15 Mar 2019

UPDATED 20/03/2019

BMW Group Australia will bulk out its box-fresh 3 Series sedan with the introduction of an entry-level 320i, petrol-electric 330e plug-in hybrid and performance-orientated M340i xDrive, all due to land before the end of the year.

Available now in either 140kW/400Nm 320d diesel or 190kW/400Nm 330i petrol guise from $67,900 and $70,900 before on-road costs respectively, the 320i will land later as a new point of entry to the seventh-generation sedan range.

Powered by a 135kW/300Nm 2.0-litre turbo-petrol engine, the 320i will go toe-to-toe with the 135kW/280Nm Mercedes-Benz C200 and 140kW/320Nm Audi A4 40 TFSI in performance, as well as – expectedly – pricing.

The cheapest Mercedes C200 retails for $63,700, while the aforementioned Audi A4 variant sits at $61,400, although the latter brand also has a cheaper 110kW/250Nm A4 35 TFSI for $56,100.

For comparison, the outgoing 320i is priced at $64,400.

As for the plug-in hybrid 330e, expect to see a price parity with the $70,900 330i – a strategy BMW employed in the previous-generation 3 Series to try and drive up interest in the electrified powertrain.

While combined outputs from the 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine and electric motor remain static at 185kW/420Nm, pure-electric driving range has been amped up to around 60km – a 50 per cent jump over its predecessor thanks to a larger 12kWh battery.

As a plug-in, the 330e will not face any competition in the premium mid-size sedan market but will still have to contend with hybrid offerings from the likes of the Infiniti Q50 HEV Blue Spot, and Lexus IS and ES.

Finally, the top-tier – for now –M340i xDrive will also land in local showrooms before 2020 to take on the Mercedes-AMG C43 and Audi S4.

Significantly, the M340i will be the first Australian-spec 3 Series to feature BMW’s xDrive all-wheel-drive system and punches out 285kW/500Nm – 10kW of power more than the European-spec version due to the lack of petrol particulate filter – from a turbocharged 3.0-litre inline six that can propel the four-door from zero to 100km/h in just 4.4 seconds.

Compared with its rear-drive-only, $91,200 predecessor, expect to see pricing for the M340i move closer to a six-digit figure in line with the $99,240 Audi S4 and $108,600 Mercedes-AMG C43.

Speaking to journalists at the launch of the new-generation 3 Series sedan, BMW Group Australia CEO Vikram Pawah said that variety is key to the mid-size sedan’s success.

“3 Series has always been very important for the brand. It was that product that defined, especially in Australia, the sheer driving pleasure,” he said.

“I think it's going to attract a wide variety of customers.”

As for whether the 3 Series would ever switch to a front-drive format, like the new-generation 1 Series hatchback is expected to when it debuts later this year, Mr Pawah did not rule out the possibility.

“The answer lies in if the customer wants it or not,” he said. “We got the feedback that I want that driving dynamics and I want the technology in there, as well. I want the luxury but I also want the core of the BMW still sitting in there.”

 

The all-wheel-drive M340i, however, is expected to resonate with local buyers who are keen for improved traction and sure-footedness, according to Mr Pawah.

“We've launched the xDrive in a lot of our sedans in the last couple of years and really fantastic response to those,” he said. “The customers are saying they are looking at those options where they need xDrive, why can't it be in sedan as well?

“We expect a good response from that one for sure.

“It's a sports performance sedan and there is a niche segment (customer) sitting out there who want that as well.”

Although yet to be confirmed, it is heavily rumoured that the new-generation M3 flagship will also adopt a rear-biased xDrive all-wheel-drive layout, given the format of the M340i.


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