We first caught glimpses of the new BMW 3 Series when a CARtoday.com reader photographed examples being tested in SA earlier this year. New pictures suggest the upcoming compact saloon will share several design cues with the BMW X3!

We first caught glimpses of the new BMW 3 Series when a CARtoday.com reader photographed examples being tested in South Africa earlier this year. New pictures suggest the upcoming compact saloon will share several design cues with the BMW X3!


CARtoday.com reported in March that Nic Retief, a 19-year-old Management Accounting student at University of Stellenbosch, had taken pictures of disguised 1 Series, 3 Series saloon and touring and a facelifted 7 Series vehicles being tested outside Stellenbosch. Read story


The fifth-generation 3 Series, due to be launched internationally middle to late next year, will be bigger and bolder than the current E46 and could have V8 engines in its lineup. In addition, new pictures reveal that the next Three will be adorned by the same kind of changing radius curved headlights as seen on the 1 Series and X3, which was recently launched in South Africa.


The 3 Series’ front end and flame-surfaced sides bear a striking resemblance to those seen on the 1 Series (styling themes introduced by current BMW Group design chief Chris Bangle), although BMW seems to have applied the adopted styling principles in a more elegant, sleek manner than on the smaller car.


The rear of the car has a raised bootline (first seen on the 7 Series and later, to a lesser degree, on the 5 Series) – a fact that became evident from the pictures Retief took in March. A design aspect that will probably be criticised by many of Bangle’s critics is the look of the somewhat compartmentalised X3-style rear lights. However, the rear of the next 3 Series (especially the upwardly-sloping bumper) will clearly be more individualistic than that of the current car.


The car’s new rear-drive platform features a MacPherson strut (front) and trapezoidal-shaped multi-link (rear) suspension, parts of which will be shared with the 1 Series. The steering sticks with a speed-sensitive rack-and-pinion mechanism, but it has been extensively reworked to incorporate BMW’s new Active Front Steering system, sources say.


The usual electronic driving aids anti-lock brakes, DSC+T stability and traction control, CBC (cornering brake control) will all be standard, as will a comprehensive safety package with a full complement of airbags, those up front featuring multi-stage detonation. Also planned are adaptive headlamps that swivel to follow the angle of the front wheels to improve night-time visibility.


The base 3 Series will continue to be powered by a four-cylinder engine. Higher in the line-up, BMW’s classic in-line sixes will be re-engineered with the Valvetronic throttle system, and a third-generation version of the Vanos variable valve timing and direct-injection system from the 760i flagship.


BMW is apparently looking to equip the 3 Series with an updated version of the 3,6-litre V8 used in the 735i. The V8 would provide stirring performance it develops 203 kW in the 7-Series and help plug the performance gap between regular 3 Series models and the M3. A replacement for that car may also use a version of the V8. Prototypes of the V8 saloon have been spotted but the eight is by no means guaranteed, insiders say, despite it being a logical model to take on eight-cylinder Audi and Merc rivals.


On the diesel side, there will be reworked versions of the popular 2,0-litre in-line four and 3,0-litre in-line six turbocharged common-rail engines. Transmission choices will include a new standard six-speed manual and optional six-speed automatic. The manual will be available with BMW’s SMG sequential shift arrangement and steering-wheel-mounted buttons.

Original article from Car