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BMW adds three-pot to refreshed 3 Series

Triple score: The BMW 3 Series follows the 1 Series in using a north-south orientated three-potter under the bonnet.

3 Series update also reveals new BMW four and six-cylinder petrol engines


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7 May 2015

THE BMW 3 Series range will include a three-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine for the first time, with the German prestige car-maker unveiling details of a mid-life refresh for the three-year-old F30 this week.

The engine will feature in sedan and Touring (wagon) versions of the 318i – a nameplate not seen since the E46 was superseded in 2006 – replacing the 1.6-litre entry-level 316i in the current line up.

BMW Group Australia has not yet confirmed that the 318i will replace the incumbent 316i, but corporate communications manager Lenore Fletcher told GoAuto it was under consideration.

“Pricing and specifications for the new 3 Series are yet to be announced,” she said. “We will be doing that in the next month or two.

“In the meantime, you can be assured that we are considering all options to provide the best possible dynamics, performance and specification levels on the new 3 Series, which has been at the heart of the BMW brand for more than 40 years.”

The 1.5-litre direct-injection turbocharged petrol triple makes 100kW at 6000rpm and 220Nm from 1250-4300rpm. Quoted fuel figures for Europe are 5.5 litres per 100 kilometres for the sedan and 5.9L/100km for the wagon. No performance figures were provided.

GoAuto reported last week that the variant is under consideration for Australia, with Ms Fletcher saying then that Australians are now “more comfortable” with a smaller powerplant.

Two other EU6-compliant engines make their debuts in the 3 Series facelift a new direct-injection 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine features in the 330i, while the 340i scores a newly developed, all-alloy inline 3.0-litre six-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine, capable of putting out 240kW at 6500rpm and 450Nm between 1380/5000rpm.

The six-potter will push the 340i sedan to 100km/h in 5.1 seconds and onto a limited top speed of 250km/h, while the four-cylinder does the tonne in 5.8 seconds and the same 250km/h top speed.

BMW claims fuel economy numbers of 6.5L/100km for the four-potter and 7.7L/100km for the six-cylinder sedan.

Currently, BMW imports four petrol (316i, 320i, 328i, 335i) sedans and one diesel (320d) sedan, along with the twin-turbo six-cylinder M3.

It also brings in the 320i, 328i and 320d Touring wagons, and two variants of the GT four-door.

Chassis-wise, BMW has retuned the dampers and firmed up the suspension for the 3 Series, while rear-drive variants have lost 10mm from their respective ride heights.

BMW’s extensive launch literature also reveals upgrades for the gearboxes for the 3 Series the six-speed manual is now equipped with rev-matching software that blips the throttle between downshift, whole the eight-speed automatic transmission now sports a ‘coasting’ mode that disengages the driveline for improved economy.

Externally, the 3 Series has scored a mild front-end update, with reprofiled air intakes and reshaped full-LED headlights for higher-end models. Tail-lights are also now LED across the range, including the M3.

The lower halves of both the front and rear bumpers have been tweaked, while the sensor for the adaptive cruise control has been hidden in the centre air intake.

Exhausts have been modified, as well the exhaust system on the 340i runs individual 80-millimetre tailpipes on the left and right, while the engines for the 320i and 320d models and up now come with twin 70mm tailpipes.

The M3 also scores a new selection of 19-inch rims, along with an updated satellite navigation system and chrome interior highlights.

Inside, BMW has used new materials and added chrome highlights to the controls, airvents and central control panel. The redone centre console now sports a sliding cover over the cupholders, while the 340i also cops lashings of piano black trim.

It’s anticipated that the range will debut Down Under in early 2016.

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