German importer BMW has moved to shake up the luxury car market, announcing it will bring its in-line, six-cylinder engine to the hotly contested sub-$60,000 sedan segment in Australia.
Renowned for its smoothness, refinement and efficiency, the straight-six BMW 323i sedan will tempt luxury buyers with a starting price of $58,300*, a drop from its previous price of $63,200*.
The 323i sedan offers luxury buyers 140kW of power, which tops similarly priced four-cylinder rivals such as the Audi A4 2.0TFSI with132kW and Mercedes-Benz C200 Kompressor with 135kW.
Equipped with the six-speed manual transmission, which is a no cost option, the BMW 323i sedan is also the quickest to 100km/h among its key price competitors, completing the dash in 7.8 seconds, while the automatic take 8.7sec.
Highlighting the efficiency of its six-cylinder engine, the manual 323i sedan uses 10 per cent less fuel than the manual V6-powered Lexus IS250, with the figures being 8.7 litres versus 9.8 litres.
The automatic 323i sedan sips just 9.1L/100km according to the latest, and stricter, Euro Five emissions standard, which is yet to be introduced into Australia.
BMW’s key rival in this segment, the Mercedes-Benz C-Class, offers a petrol six-cylinder version from $89,500*, while Audi’s six-cylinder petrol A4 starts from $90,900*.
BMW expects the move will appeal to buyers wishing to get behind the wheel of a six-cylinder 3 Series.
Managing director of BMW Group Australia, Stavros Yallouridis, believes the 323i sedan’s alluring appeal will grow thanks to its new market position.
“Australians love the refinement and linear performance of BMW’s in-line six-cylinder engine.
“Now, more customers than ever can treat themselves to the unique driving pleasure of an in-line six-cylinder BMW 3 Series.
“Our customer feedback indicates that introducing a BMW straight-six engine, into what is mainly a four-cylinder market segment, will be very well received,” he said.
Featuring a smooth 140kW, in-line, six-cylinder engine, mated to a six-speed automatic transmission, the BMW 323i Sedan delivers a powerful and responsive driving experience.
Like all BMW six-cylinder power plants, the 323i sedan engine makes extensive use of weight saving materials such as aluminium and magnesium-alloy for the block, while its smooth, responsive character has been lauded internationally.
The engine also includes Valvetronic valve control system with double-VANOS variable valve timing.
BMW says that currently about 30 per cent of customers for the E90 3 Series sedan choose a six-cylinder engine; the remainder split between diesel and petrol four-cylinder engines.
The BMW 323i sedan comes highly equipped with features including new, more sportier looking V-spoke 16-inch allow wheels, leather upholstery, active front headrests, cruise control with brake function, rain sensor, automatic headlight control, CD player, USB interface, Bluetooth and, multi-function sport steering wheel.
Standard equipment also includes through load system with ski bag, partial electric front seats, automatic climate control, front fog lights, rear Park Distance Control, Electronic Stability Control (ESC), six airbags, central locking with remote control, anti-dazzle interior mirror, paddle illumination in the door handles, exit lighting, foot well lights in the rear, ambient interior lighting and chrome line exterior.
In line with the change to the 3 Series Sedan, the 323i Touring will now be priced from $62,500*, down from $67,400*.
*All prices are Manufacturers’ List Price