After debuting overseas last year to select journalist and auto show attendees, a new generation of the venerated 3 Series sedan made its anticipated U.S. debut at the International Auto Show in Detroit January 2012. The all-new 2012 BMW 3 Series sedan goes on sale February 2012.The bread-and-butter of the BMW lineup is newly arrayed (for now) in a four-door version only, with several individualized trim levels that are sure to impress, or overwhelm, shoppers, and put the hurt on the sport compact's aftermarket accessories suppliers.Referred internally and by enthusiasts as the F30, the 2012 BMW 3 Series sedan gets two engine choices when it first hits dealerships: The 2012 BMW 335i keeps the turbocharged 3.0-liter inline-6 with 300 horsepower and 300 pound-feet of torque.The 2012 BMW 328i gets BMW's new twin-scroll turbocharged 2.0-liter four cylinder first found in the latest incarnation of the Z4, good for 240 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque. Transmission choices include a 6-speed manual or a new 8-speed automatic.A hybrid version, dubbed the ActiveHybrid 3, will debut in fall of 2012. It will pair the 3.0-liter six-cylinder engine with an electric motor.The BMW 3 Series continues to get bigger with each passing generation: It's two inches wider and nearly four inches longer than the outgoing model.However, it's also 88 pounds lighter. This, along with other technology such as Brake Energy Regeneration, auto stop-start, and an air conditioning system that can disconnect from the engine, is expected to earn the new 3 Series a significantly better EPA fuel rating over its predecessor.Much to the delight of racergirls and to the chagrin of aftermarket accessory dealers, the 3 Series comes in several styles that include unique exterior trim, front bumpers, wheels and interior trim.The Modern Line gets matte chrome exterior and interior trim, piping around standard leather seats a choice of textured word, pearl metallic or aluminum interior accents. The Luxury Line uses exterior chromed grille surrounds, contrast stitching on the standard leather upholstery, and inlayed wood trim. The Sport Line models come with black exterior styling trim, a 10mm-lowered suspension, red piped-and-stitched leather or leatherette seats, a black headliner and various red accents, including a black-and-red contrast dash. A forthcoming M Sport line will offer sportier cues like a larger front air intake, along with M-style wheels and interior trim.The new 3 Series is chock-full of techno-gadgets such as a new generation head-up display, a series of cameras that provide a bird's eye view of the vehicle and BMW's Parking Assistant, which uses a series of sensors to measure parallel parking spaces and help the driver park the car. It also gets a hands-free trunk opening feature which automatically releases the trunk lid with the wave of a foot underneath the car.
Although launched initially as a four-door, the new 3 Series will eventually emerge in coupe, wagon, convertible, and hatchback forms.
The sedan arrives in U.S. showrooms in February 2012 as a 2012 model. Pricing is expected to start at $33,650.