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BMW 3 Series Compact unveiled

The most startling change to the 3 Series Compact is a new interpretation of BMW's four-eyed face

13 Nov 2000

THESE are the first pictures of BMW's all-new 3 Series Compact, due to go on sale here towards the end of next year.

Two models will be initially available in Europe - the entry level 316ti powered by an 87kW 1.9-litre engine and the 325ti which uses a 143kW 2.5-litre straight-six.

BMW Australia spokesman John Kananghinis said it was too early to say what the pricing and specification of Australia-bound cars will be.

"It is far too early to say which models we will take. We have not even had that discussion yet," he said.

Although just two variants have been announced initially, the 3 Series Compact line-up will eventually comprise a range of engine options, including turbo-diesels.

While there is no official word on local pricing, the entry level model is likely to cost just over $40,000 - compared with $48,315 for the base model 318i sedan.

Should BMW Australia opt to bring in the 325ti, it may cost around $60,000.

Visually, the newcomers stand clearly apart from the existing 3 Series Compact.

The most startling change is a new interpretation of BMW's four-eyed face, with tiny inner headlights and keyhole-shaped outer headlight/indicator clusters.

The stubby rump is adorned by clear-lens tail-lights reminiscent of the Lexus IS200.

Its overall proportions bear an obvious resemblance to its 3 Series sedan and coupe siblings, with minimal front and rear overhangs.

BMW claims both models are characterised by excellent fuel economy with the 316ti returning 6.9L/100km and the 325ti 8.9L/100km.

The new Compact benefits from many of the developments introduced in the current 3 Series range. Sharing its siblings' rear-wheel drive layout, the Compact features a revised chassis that BMW promises will offer superb handling and outstanding refinement.

Access to the rear seats has been improved and the choice of interior trim colours expanded.

With an optional maximum of eight airbags, BMW also claims its new model is poised to raise class safety standards to new heights.

The existing 3 Series Compact - introduced here in March, 1995 - was greeted with lukewarm reviews by the motoring media but it still generating significant sales volumes internationally.

Australian buyers did not embrace the car as readily as their European counterparts, but this may be partly because sedans and coupes tend to fare better than hatchbacks in the local prestige segment.

Nevertheless, Mr Kananghinis said the Compact had fulfilled its objective in Australia.

"The Compact has achieved reasonable volumes. It's been averaging about 100 sales per month," he said.

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