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As the current-generation car heads into its mid-life phase, the BMW 3 Series has been given a light makeover and a selection of new engines and drivetrains.

Visually, the 3 Series update features revised front and rear bumpers, which have been tweaked to emphasise the car’s width. The company has played with the headlights’ internals, and buyers can now opt for full LED lighting, if they so desire.

At the rear, the 3 Series sedan and wagon sport standard LED tail-lights with revised graphics. On the inside, there are new materials around the place, extra splashes of chrome and a new sliding cover for the cupholders in the centre console.

The Professional navigation system is said to feature LTE mobile network connectivity and faster route calculation, as well as three years worth of free over-the-air map updates.

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The big changes with this update occur under the bonnet, with a selection of new engines and drivetrains available.

At the bottom end of the range, a reworked 318i replaces the 316i, and sports a turbocharged 1.5-litre three-cylinder petrol engine with 100kW of power and 220Nm of torque on tap.

Above the 318i are models powered by a new 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine. In the 320i this motor generates 135kW/290Nm, while the 330i has been tuned to deliver 185kW/350Nm.

At the top of the petrol-engined tree is the 340i, which displaces the current 335i. In the engine bay there’s a new 3.0-litre turbocharged straight-six that develops 240kW of power and 450Nm of torque. BMW says the automatic 340i is capable of completing the 0-100km/h standard in 5.1 seconds, or 4.9 seconds when fitted with all-wheel drive.

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In Europe the updated range is available with the company’s 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel engine in four different states of tune: the 85kW/270Nm 316d, 110kW/320Nm 318d, 140kW/400Nm 320d and 160kW/450Nm 325d.

The diesel range is topped by a 330d powered by a 3.0-litre turbocharged six-cylinder with 190kW of power and 560Nm of torque.

Most models are available with either a six-speed manual or eight-speed automatic. Practically all models, apart from the entry-level petrol and diesel variants, can be optioned with all-wheel drive. Availability of drivetrain options will differ greatly between various markets around the world.

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From 2016, the 3 Series range will also include a plug-in hybrid model, which will be branded as the 330e. This all new variant features a 135kW 2.0-litre petrol engine and an 80kW electric motor.

All up this drivetrain can output 185kW of power and 420Nm of torque. In hybrid mode the 330e can complete the 0-100km/h dash in 6.3 seconds on its way to a top speed of 225km/h.

The 330e has a claimed electric-only driving range of 35km, and the car’s combined fuel consumption rating is said to be 2.2L/100km under the EU testing scheme.

Timing and availability of variants in the updated 3 Series range has yet to be confirmed for Australia.

Update: See some preliminary Australian-market info here. 




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