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by Jez Spinks

BMW says it is confident the 3-Series can reclaim the mantle of best-selling luxury car in Australia by usurping the Mercedes-Benz C-Class.

The car maker’s trademark model was once the dominant player in the volume area of the luxury car market, accounting for a third of its segment, but has been trailing the C-Class since 2008.

In 2006 BMW sold 6035 3-Series sedans compared to 3167 C-Classes, though only the C-Class has sold more than 6000 units annually since. Last year the gap widened by more than 2000 cars, with 6428 C-Classes sold versus 4203 3-Series sales.

BMW Australia, however, believes its sixth-generation 3-Series, which has launched this week, is equipped to turn the tables.

“We’d like to think so [that we can regain top spot],” says BMW Australia’s product and market planning manager, Toni Andreevski. “We’re confident the car is good enough to certainly attract a strong customer base. We don’t have a full year of supply, though, and one of volume models like 320i doesn’t arrive until almost the middle of the year.

“I’m anticipating it would obviously be a very close battle [with the C-Class]. Certainly the goal of BMW for the new 3-Series is to give the customers a car that is capable of reclaiming its rightful position at the top of the luxury car segment.”

BMW has reacted to the market situation, which has also seen a notable rise in Audi A4 sales, by sharpening the pencil on 3-Series pricing and value.

While the new entry-level 318d is a few hundred dollars more (at $56,400) than the previous starter model, the 320i, and the 320d is $1200 pricier than its predecessor, both offer more standard equipment.

The 320i is the entry-level petrol, costing $57,600.

The four-cylinder turbo 328i is $5000 more affordable than the six-cylinder 325i it replaces, while the range-topping 335i – until the arrival in 2014 of the M3 – cuts $16,300 from its previous sticker to start from $91,900.

The 335i also now includes more standard features, such as satellite navigation, a Harman Kardon audio system, Bluetooth audio streaming, voice control and internet connectivity.

BMW is also using a new range of new trim ‘Lines’ to help ‘conquest’ buyers who might otherwise be considering a Volvo S60 or Mercedes-Benz C-Class.

The Lines, split into Modern, Sport and Luxury, cost a premium over the standard trim for each 3-Series variant. The Sport Line, for example, costs an extra $3678, for which it adds a number of exterior and interior trim upgrades, as well as further customisation options within that line.

“[These Lines mean] there’s more choice than ever before [for 3-Series customers],” says Andreevski, “but the most important thing for BMW is that we want to conquest customers also from different brands.

“So the Modern line with its light-coloured steering wheel and lighter ambience gives customers an opportunity to go for something you might expect more from a Scandinavian type of brand.

“Luxury you can imagine is the type of line that would appeal to somebody who might be thinking of buying a Mercedes, and Sport is very much traditional BMW.

“It’s important that we don’t just look at our existing customer base.

“The adaptive suspension is also important as that’s also helping to cater for different customers.”

BMW says there will typically be a three-month waiting list for 3-Series orders. It says most 3-Series customers won’t be bothered by the delay as they plan well in advance for when they’ll be changing from their current car.

The new BMW 3-Series goes on sale in late February with the 320d, 328i and 335i variants, with the 318d and 320i entry-level diesel and petrol models available for order from March for an expected delivery time of mid year.

Click to read CarAdvice’s 2012 BMW 3-Series Review.

  • Guest

    Benz is likely to protect its No. 1 position by having special editions with more equipment at discounted driveaway prices later this year. Also, if the 320i continues to be built in South Africa, Benz has the advantage of Made in Germany. The new 320i drops standard leather for vinyl seat covers (same as Benz) – a reduction in standard features.

    • Phil

      Very few buyers will care or know whether it’s made in Germany or South Afria. I don’t know about BMWs vinyl, but very few people could notice the difference between Mercedes’ vinyl and leather.

  • marc

    grossly overpriced… all these german cars

    • theillestlife

      good to know.

      Did you write this after coming home from work in your 80k folden falcodore?

  • Scottjames_12

    Sharpened the pencil? Please don’t treat us like idiots, BMW. You charge less for a M3 in the states than we pay for a base model 318d here. And don’t give me that cr@p about Australia needing higher pricing for other reasons – other fully imported brands are competitve, why cant you be?

    • Laurie


      We are becoming smarter at least I am, I’ll just sit back and wait for the new Mondeo then I will choose,specs & value for money will determine my next car not badges 

    • Tom

      I agree with most of what you are saying, except for the bit about other brands being competitive here – pretty much every other German car is similarly overpriced here, as are some cheaper cars – absurdly, a Pontiac G8 (Commodore) was about $32 000 in the US, compared to about $50 000 for an equivalent SS here…

      • scottjames_12

        I was talking more about other fully imported brands like Mazda. Their pricing is competitive (but still more no doubt) with overseas pricing, even though they have the same ‘disadvantages’ that the likes of BMW and Mercedes roll out whenever they try to justify the pricing in Aus. Things like the cost of shipping, maintaining a dealer network, etc.

        • Realtor

          Actually mazda are small scale in Europe where they have next no market share in most countries. Theirain market is in Japan and throughout Asia where everything is right hand drive. In contrast the Germans have huge markets in left hand drive and as they don’t sell in large numbers and have a relatively week market share in right hand drive countries they have to pass on those costs as well as the bunch of Australia specific modifications which make no sense and should be scraped. Its all about economy of scale verses any additional development cost with some or a lot of extra tax thrown in. If you are going to blog about how much cheaper things are in other countries do it in Canberra and not on this site. Lobby for ADRs to be inline with euro rules or go and get the owners book pouch out of someone’s EXPENSIVE euro car and have a look at the book titled Australian Suppliment Owners Manual. All the items listed in this booklet are specific to Australian cars. Once you’ve then gone away and researched the value of these modifications as well as there merit then ask yourself; Do any of these items add value or merit to or improve the safety of over the European alternative? No they don’t! They are there to protect our own industry and to push up the costs of imports. Then have a think about whatever line of business you are in how much do you get taxed? Because I can assure you the motor industry is one of the most heavily taxed and regulated industries in Australia and actually the world. So please quit bitching about the price of cars here compared to other countries. If you don’t like it move to the other country of your choice or go to Canberra and lobby for some sane regulations and reduced taxes, I wish you all the best. Just don’t winge about it anymore and keep you comments relevant I the product or the design or our market. I don’t want to read any more complaints from people who are too busy complaining about the price of things here verses there yet they do nothing about it.

          • Milsie

            My Skoda comes with the United Kingdom owners manual and no sign of a “Australian Suppliment Owners Manual”. Our BMW’s “Australian Suppliment Owners Manual” consists of one page describing the addition of a child seat metal hook mount and the location of a passenger airbag sticker. Items worth under $10 full retail. So in short, you are misinformed. Have you ever been in a European vehicle?
            It’s supply and demand and the relative costs that you should be focusing on. We are accustomed to pay high prices for foreign cars (mostly from Europe) resulting from when Australia had import tariffs. Now that they are long gone, the car importers haven’t really changed their pricing to reflect this. Relative costs are also important. The minimum wage in Australia is far higher than in the US, therefore things cost more here because that’s how the accounting equation balances. It’s the same with food pricing and petrol pricing. All relative to the average income people earn in their country.

          • nugsdad

             Good point but why does an M3 cost so much here?

          • scottjames_12

            I really shouldn’t be bothering to reply to this, but eh, I will.

            I shouldn’t be commenting about car prices on a car news website? What are you smoking?

            Your whole RHD/LHD argument is rubbish. I guarantee the car is designed and engineered from the ground up to be both RHD and LHD. The would be no “oh no now we have to make it RHD, that’s going to cost a lot of money, we’ll have to slug RHD markets to recoup that”.

            The UK is RHD and we pay 37-75% more! And that’s calculated using drive away pricing for the UK!

            As for ADR’s and taxes, get real. All cars sold in Australia have to comply with these. 

            Simple fact is, the likes of BMW aren’t passing on the full benefits of the strong Aussie dollar.

    • Snap

      Yeah, Australia gets ripped of very hard by automakers, especially German automakers..

      Everything is overpriced here for no reason

  • Noel

    They shouldn’t be aiming to beat the C class at all. C class resale values are really suffering at the moment, there’s a glut and unlike traditional used mid size cars, people don’t want them second hand. It’s a really pity because they are great cars for the money, in this case a rich man’s rubbish really is a poor man’s treasure.

    • Jauffre

      Just means second hand buyers win! I’d get a new-ish C class for much less second hand.

  • Guest

    More likely to take market share from the Audi A4 (underpowered in this segment and due for new model next year).

  • Birty_B

    They also fail to mention that majority of these petrol engines now avoid LCT up to $75K due to the improvements in fuel economy and now being “officially” under 7.0L/100km. So when you say the 328i is $5000k cheaper, a large chunk of that is because there’s no LCT in the price anymore. 

  • Jauffre

    I’d still have the Merc. 

  • gt86.com.au

    The Merc is easily the best looking :)

    • Realtor

      Run flats anyone! Mercs ride on neumatic tyres and BMW have run flats. The ride is rubbish on run flats and try finding a tyre shop that stocks a $500+ run flat tyre outside of metropolitan areas, good luck. If you are travelling in most parts of this country and get a flat with a run flat you’d better get used to 80k/h speed limits and people laughing at you as they pass your fancy BMW on the highway in their Hyundai Getz.



  • Guest

    It will be good for buyers if BMW, Merc and Audi all raise their competitive stakes to fight for market share. When Lexus brings in the new IS250 and IS350 next year (and hopefully reduce pricing), this segment will be more interesting.

  • nickdl

    The $15k drop in price of the 335i with more standard features just shows how much E90 customers were being ripped off in comparison to offerings from Volvo and Lexus.

  • nugsdad

    Is it just me or has the C class always looked just that bit bigger and more classy than the 3. The C Class always looks medium sized while the 3 series looks a small car.

  • gt86.com.au

    nickdl soo true.. And they are still being ripped off even at these reduce prices :)