- David Twomey
At the reveal at Phillip Island Race Track in Victoria we didn’t get to drive the new 3 Series cars, which come in Sedan and Touring body styles but were treated to the opportunity to drive the iconic, and new to Australia BMW M3 Sedan – a First Steer from behind the wheel of that high-revving V8 will be available shortly.
BMW says the car that invented the luxury compact sports sedan segment in 1975 and which has dominated the class over five generations will now be even more popular with Australian buyers, thanks to the increase in standard specification for the entry model.
The new entry point is the 320i Executive, complete with Dakota leather trim, power front seats, light alloy wheels, active front headrests and standard six-speed automatic transmission. Priced from $54,500 plus dealer delivery and statutory charges it also offers further standard features including front fog lights, rain sensor, and rear Park Distance Control.
What BMW calls Professional Navigation System (standard on the 335i) has been taken to a new level with a new iDrive Controller and a completely new menu structure. It now comes with an 8.8-inch high-resolution colour monitor offering full screen mode for viewing maps; three- dimensional relief maps, DVD drive, and an integrated 80GB hard disc drive. This allows the storage of up to 8GB of audio files from CD or USB devices.
The iDrive also features eight favourite buttons, allowing drivers to take a short cut to their preferred settings.
The full range of new BMW 3 Series models comprises the 320i Executive Sedan and Touring, 320d Executive Sedan, 323i Sedan and Touring, 325i Sedan, 335i Sedan and Touring. All but the 320d and 335i models are available with manual transmission (as a no cost option).
Thanks to its impressive combined fuel consumption of 6.0-litres per 100km, the new BMW 320d Executive escapes the Luxury Car Tax net, making it even better value for customers. Its four-cylinder engine boasts 130kW of power and 350Nm of torque, and epitomises the benefits of the BMW EfficientDynamics program.
In the second quarter of next year BMW will also introduce the 330d, offering its new 3.0-litre diesel engine, at 520Nm the highest torque engine in the 3 Series range, with even more torque than the high-revving V8-engined M3.
BMW spokesman Toni Andreevski also pointed out today that the engine in the 330d was not only complaint with Euro5 emission standards but would also comply with the yet to be legislated Euro6 standards.
“We know what those standards will be, even though the laws have not yet been passed, and the engine is so far ahead it will comply with them when they do eventually become law,” he said.
He added that the 330d would benefit from a $5400 lower price under the Luxury Car Tax rules for its lower than 7.0L/100km fuel consumption.
Although pricing won’t be announced until closer to its launch CarAdvice believes the 330d will sell for under $100,000.
The key features of the new BMW 3 Series Sedan and Touring range are a redesigned front facia panel, new bonnet with power bulge, redesigned side profile and door mirrors, new tail light cluster and a wider track (up to 24mm depending on models).
Since the introduction of the E90 generation in May 2005, more than 25,000 cars have been delivered in Australia, more than the previous generation over a similar time frame.
Globally, the E90 has been the most successful BMW 3 Series yet with more than 1.75-million delivered; an increase of 300,000 cars compared with the same period of the E46 generation’s life.
“The BMW 3 Series is the most successful luxury compact sport sedan in the world and we have further improved the offering to the market with the new cars,” said Tom Noble, General Manager, Marketing, BMW Group Australia.
“The range is extremely well equipped from the start, at a very attractive price point below the Luxury Car Tax threshold.
“The high-performing 320d Executive resists LCT thanks to its super efficient diesel engine that is the most powerful in its class and the fastest accelerating.
As well as the BMW M Sport Package, which will be available on the 3 Series the company also announced today that a BMW Performance package will be available early in 2009.
Details of the new package, already offered on the 1 Series, are yet to be confirmed but BMW says it will be a stepping-stone between the standard and the M3 cars.
At the same time the 335i will get a version of the double clutch seven-speed transmission, similar to that currently offered on the M3 range.
The car will no longer be available with a conventional automatic gearbox, although a manual six-speed gearbox will be offered.
The new double-clutch gearbox will cost owners an extra $3500 but BMW believes buyers of this high-performance model will appreciate the technology.
Pricing of the new BMW 3 Series Sedan and Touring range
320i Executive $54,500
320d Executive $57,500
320i Executive $57,700