It’s a well known fact that any new consumer product attracts the early adopters - and these people almost invariably want the topline offerings in the range.
Two months down the track, and a pleasing number of sales down the track, the initial fuss about the new ‘3 is drawing to a close, making it just the right time to introduce the lower-cost models.
‘Budget’ and ‘lower-cost‘ are relative terms in the car business. Don’t expect any ‘$29,990 Driveaway’ signs on the windscreens of a 3 Series at your local dealer. Rather, the price list starts at $56,400 for the diesel-engined BMW 318d, with the petrol 320i carrying a tag of $57,600. The word driveaway doesn’t apply here, look to make a donation of about $3000 to $4000 to governments and dealers before you’re the proud owner of a shiny new BMW.
Two new four-cylinder engines are at the heart of the latest variants. The 318d is a turbo-diesel, displacing 2.0 litres. It’s a close relation to the existing 320d powerplant, but detuned to produce 105 kW of power, and 320 Nm of torque between 1750 and 2500 rpm. Its official fuel consumption is rated at a mere 4.5 litres per hundred kilometres. During our initial road testing out of Melbourne it was running in the low to mid fives during some spirited driving.
Likewise, the turbo-petrol engine in the BMW 320i is a four-cylinder 2.0-litre unit. This time with 135 kW and 270 Nm, the latter at an astonishingly low 1250 revs and running up all the way to 4500. Most drivers will therefore have their engine at maximum efficiently at all times.
Fuel consumption from the petrol engine has been measured by the Australian standard as just 6.0 litres per hundred kilometres. That getting down to diesel numbers - yet this engine can sprint from rest to 100 km/h in just 7.6 seconds. It used to take a gas guzzling V8 petrol to run numbers like that.
More importantly than the ability to get to 100 km/h very fast is the ability to minimise time on the wrong side of the road. During our preview testing we found the turbo-petrol was able to leap from 80 to 120 km/h (a typical overtaking requirement) in a most impressive manner.
Though BMW straight-sixes rank amongst our all time favourite engines we have admit we are really starting to love the lighter weight of these new turbo fours and the fact that they contribute towards even nimbler handling.
The diesel, despite the work put into minimising its weight, does feel heavier than the petrol when cornering hard. But that’s nit picking as the road behaviour of these small-medium BMWs really does carry on the longtime reputation of the iconic German marque for sportiness.
As announced at the launch of the topline 3 Series models, BMW now cleverly packages the ‘3 into three separate streams: Modern, Sport, Luxury. The names are self explanatory and avoid customers having to choose from a multitude of options as had previously been the case. Rather, the designers have examined customers’ past preferences and bundled them together.
Naturally, there is still a list of accessories for those who do want to make individual decisions. Rather than us filling a pair of pages listing permissions of colours, trims, dash treatments and much more, may we suggest a visit to your local dealer to see what’s on offer for your tastes?
The complete 2012 BMW 3 Series range is:
318d 2.0-litre twin-turbo diesel four-door sedan: $56,400
318d Modern Line 2.0-litre twin-turbo diesel four-door sedan: $60,300
318d Sport or Luxury Line 2.0-litre twin-turbo diesel four-door sedan: $61,300
320i 2.0-litre twin-turbo petrol four-door sedan: $57,600
320i Modern Line 2.0-litre twin-turbo petrol four-door sedan: $60,700
320i Sport or Luxury Line 2.0-litre twin-turbo petrol four-door sedan: $61,700
320d 2.0-litre twin-turbo diesel four-door sedan: $60,900
320d Modern Line 2.0-litre twin-turbo diesel four-door sedan: $64,000
320d Sport or Luxury Line 2.0-litre twin-turbo diesel four-door sedan: $61,000
328i 2.0-litre twin-turbo petrol four-door sedan: $66,900
328i Modern Line 2.0-litre twin-turbo petrol four-door sedan: $67,900
328i Sport or Luxury Line 2.0-litre twin-turbo petrol four-door sedan: $68,900
335i 3.0-litre twin-turbo petrol four-door sedan: $91,900
335i Modern Line 3.0-litre twin-turbo petrol four-door sedan: $92,900
335i Sport or Luxury Line 3.0-litre twin-turbo petrol four-door sedan: $93,900