As we inch closer to the 2012 launch of the sixth-generation BMW 3-series, code-named F30, more details emerge—along with better spy shots. The photos seen here reveal a compact sedan that, visually, remains close to the current model: The proportions are virtually unchanged, and, with the tape-covered front and rear lights, it takes an expert to spot the differences.
Specifically, the lower body side gets a more-pronounced crease, which is picked up by the rear bumper. Somewhat surprisingly, one of the two cars captured here carries a regular sunroof, not a panoramic one, as has been BMW’s fashion of late. Prominent changes will be made to the front end, with the next 3er getting a less-convoluted headlight design. And inside, the dashboard will lose the bump above the optional navigation screen. The interior of this 3 will stay in the mold of the previous generations; there is none of the radical "layered" styling that was introduced with the Efficient Dynamics concept and which will trickle down to the series-production i8.
More interesting are the new 3’s technological changes. The next generation will remain rear-wheel drive with an optional all-wheel-drive system, but it will be powered by an entirely new family of engines, all of them turbocharged. BMW will offer four- and six-cylinder diesel and gasoline engines. This forced-induction mantra applies to the next M3 as well, which will receive a 400-plus-hp inline-six. Available transmissions across the lineup will include a manual, a torque-converter automatic, and a dual-clutch automatic.
BMW also is working on a three-cylinder engine, which could find its way into the 3-series. A hybrid 3-series is planned, too—but unlike the three-cylinder unit, it’s being created with the U.S. market in mind.
The four-door sedan will continue to be the most important model, but this time around, BMW is going after every possible niche with additional body variations. BMW will offer a station wagon, a "Gran Turismo" five-door hatchback, a two-door coupe, a folding-hardtop convertible and, at least according to rumor, a real softtop convertible as well.
The BMW 3-series is the company's core model and the benchmark for sports sedans around the world. BMW must try to stay ahead of the game in terms of handling, fit and finish, and sheer driving excitement. The mildly revised shape is a good sign—let’s just hope BMW doesn’t mess with the rest of the recipe too much.
Thanks to: Car and Driver