BMW has given the automotive world a sneak peek at its upcoming 3 Series plug-in hybrid sedan with an ultra-efficient prototype model that previews next year’s production car.

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It achieves these frugal claims by combining a 132kW/320Nm 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine with a 70kW/250Nm electric motor mounted in an eight-speed automatic transmission that drives the rear wheels, and a lithium-ion battery for a total hybrid system output of 183kW and 400Nm. The system is similar to that used by the BMW X5 eDrive concept, which first appeared at last year’s Frankfurt motor show.

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BMW claims the 3 Series plug-in hybrid has a pure electric range of approximately 35km, and can operate without any assistance from the petrol engine at speeds up to 120km/h.

The car maker says there’s only a small reduction in the plug-in hybrid’s boot space compared with the regular sedan, as the sixth-generation model was originally developed to accommodate extra electric hardware.

As with regular BMW production models, the 3 Series plug-in hybrid prototype features a Drive Experience Control switch with selectable Comfort, Sport, and Eco Pro modes, while it also gets a plug-in-specific toggle for switching between all-electric Max eDrive mode and Save mode, which keeps the battery at a constant state of charge, reserving it for use in urban sections of the drive.

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The BMW 3 Series plug-in hybrid is set to go on sale in Europe in the second half of 2015. It will effectively replace the non-rechargeable ActiveHybrid 3 in the car maker’s mid-sized range.

BMW Australia corporate communications general manager Lenore Fletcher suggested a local launch would still be “a fair way out” if the new model is confirmed for our market, but insisted the local division was “very interested in lower-emission technology” and would look at it seriously to add to the line-up.

Fletcher admitted the ActiveHybrid 3 has sold in very low numbers, but said the recent launch of the BMW i brand proved the company was committed to launching fuel efficient cars in our market.