The next-generation BMW 3 Series sedan has been spotted by our spy photographers in northern Europe undergoing harsh winter testing.
Beneath the swathes of camouflage, this prototype wears a version of the body that will grace the next-generation 3 Series sedan.
Despite the multiple layers of disguise we can see that the new car will keep all the line’s traditional elements: a long and low bonnet, short front overhang, and a window silhouette complete with the company’s signature Hoffmeister kink.
Subtle false body panels disguise the car’s stylistic embellishments along the flanks and boot, while temporary head- and tail-light units give us no clear indication of what type of graphics will grace the front and rear of the car.
Beneath the skin, the new BMW 3 Series range will use a version of the Carbon Core rear- and all-wheel drive architecture that underpins that latest 7 Series and the yet-to-be-revealed next-generation 5 Series models.
With a mix of lightweight materials, such as high-strength steel, aluminium and, even, some carbonfibre, the 3 Series will be lighter than today’s model. In the range-topping 7 Series weight savings clock in at around 130kg, while the next 5 Series is expected to shed around 100kg compared to the model currently in showrooms.
Under the bonnet, it’s safe to expect that the new 3 Series will be offered with a choice of turbocharged three-, four- and six-cylinder petrol and diesel powerplants; a plug-in hybrid model will also be offered.
It’s expected that the new 3 Series will grow slightly, with the biggest increase reserved for the wheelbase, which should benefit those sitting on the rear pew.
The car will also feature the company’s latest iDrive infotainment system and, at least in high-end models, an up-to-date selection of BMW’s assisted driving and safety technologies.
Given that the current-generation BMW 3 Series sedan made its production debut in late 2011, the earliest we can expect to see the new 3 Series in all its glory is 2017.