It's been over half a year since the last 3 Series prototypes were spied undergoing testing. This latest prototype does away with the placeholder parts used on earlier cars.
There's also less disguise up front, fleshed out side sills, a fuel cap, and exhaust tip finishers. The prototype is still wearing false body panels to hide the surfacing and other details along the car's doors and guards.
Despite the layers of disguise, it's clear the new 3 Series will have an evolutionary design. As with previous iterations of the 3 Series, the new model is expected to grow and have a roomier interior.
The new 3 Series rides on a version of the CLAR platform underpinning the latest X3, and 5 and 7 Series models. With high-strength steel and other lightweight materials, the new 3 Series should be lighter, more agile, and have better fuel economy than the current car.
Turbocharged three-, four- and six-cylinder petrol and diesel engines should feature under the bonnet. A plug-in hybrid model will also be part of the range.
Reports last year indicated BMW is looking to develop electric versions of its mainstream models, and the new 3 Series could be one of the early beneficiaries of this initiative, with a launch in 2019 rumoured to be on the cards.
It's not known when the new 3 Series will make its debut, but a concept next year seems likely, with sales possibly beginning by 2019.