Latest spy pics of BMW's new junior executive saloon reveal a scaled-down 5-series

BMW is aiming for its next-gen 3-series to be a scaled-down version of the latest 5-series, judging by the latest spy images of the car captured in Germany.

This test car carries a slightly lighter disguise than earlier models. The hefty front cladding has gone, allowing a glimpse of LED-ringed front headlights. But the strongest family resemblance comes at the rear, where the next 3-series — codenamed F30 — adopts a design of tail-light that’s very similar to those of its bigger brother.

See the latest scoop pics of the next BMW 3-series

The 3-series is growing, too, in a bid to create more cabin space and free up room at the lower end of BMW’s range for the next 1-series and a new line of front-wheel-drive models.

Mechanically, the next 3-series’ biggest story is expected to be the introduction of downsized engines. There’s likely to be a 150bhp 1.5-litre, three-cylinder diesel option, and the platform will also be future-proofed for hybrids and electric power.

Read more on the next BMW 3-series

The car is also expected to feature the next generation of BMW’s Efficient Dynamics. This fuel-saving tech will work more closely with on-board systems. It’s anticipated that they could deliver a 15 per cent gain in fuel economy and take 3-series models to well under 99g/km of CO2 emissions.

The next 3-series is tipped to make its debut at the Frankfurt motor show this autumn. Other variants, including an estate and a crossover 3-series GT, will follow in 2012, before a coupé and cabrio turn up in 2013.

John McIlroy

See all the latest BMW 3-series reviews, news and video

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