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BMW confirms 3 Series hybrid launch

BMW confirms 3 Series hybrid launch

BMW have announced that the sixth generation of their 3 Series model will go on sale in February 2012 – the popular 3 Series alone currently represents 20% of the company's global sales.

Although just four versions will be available from launch, additional engines will be added to result in BMW offering eight versions of the 3 Series saloon with CO2 emissions at or below 120 g/km, including a hybrid version.

One of the initial 4 model versions to be available is the 320d EfficientDynamics model, which emits just 109 g/km and returns a combined fuel consumption figure of 68.9 mpg. This is thanks to some additional efficiency tweaks, such as elongated gear ratios, reduced friction components and revised electronics – which compliment all the existing EfficientDynamics features.

The 320d EfficientDynamics model was previously only available with a manual gearbox, however the new version is also offered with an all-new 8-speed automatic transmission – whilst retaining the same 109 g/km CO2 emission figure. This transmission is also offered with every engine, and improves efficiency significantly – for example, the new 318d automatic model now emits 22 g/km less than the previous 318d automatic model.

BMW have confirmed that towards the end of 2012, four wheel drive and hybrid versions will join the line-up – it will be the first time that full hybrid technology is introduced to the 3 Series range. Known as the ActiveHybrid 3, the hybrid model will use the same powertrain as the recently announced ActiveHybrid 5 – a 335i's 306 hp 6-cylinder engine with a 40 kW electric motor. Although there are no official CO2 or mpg figures as yet, the large combustion engine to be used is unlikely to return better figures than the frugal 320D EfficientDynamics.

All versions of the new 3 Series Saloon feature Drive Performance Control as standard – allowing the driver to swap between four driving modes including sporty and extremely economical options. The four modes are ECO PRO, Comfort, Sport, and Sport +. In ECO PRO, the throttle mapping changes so that a firmer push of the accelerator pedal is needed to extract the power that is delivered with a lighter touch in the other models, thus encouraging a more economical driving style. ECO PRO also alters the manual gearshift points advised by the Optimum Shift Indicator, modifies the gearshift strategy on models with automatic transmission and even adjusts the power consumption of features such as the climate control and heated mirrors and seats.

Auto start-stop is fitted to all versions, manual and automatic, along with Brake Energy Regeneration, on-demand control of engine ancillary components and tyres with less rolling resistance. Weight has been reduced by up to 50 kg compared with the previous model, while the drag coefficient is down to as low as 0.26 thanks to optimised aerodynamics. The new 3 Series Saloon also features a wealth of streamlining additions, largely to the underside of the vehicle.

Prices for the new vehicle start at £24,880 OTR for a 316d ES, with the increases over the previous model remaining low. The 320i increases by only £75 for example, whilst the 320d sees an increase of only £180. The 328i is £530 more expensive than the less powerful 325i in the previous range, but £2,935 cheaper than the 330i which it dramatically out-performs. In all cases, since the standard specification of the car has been significantly enhanced compared to the previous model, the price rises are negated in real terms.


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