A 3.0-litre six-cylinder petrol 3 Series will continue to be offered. It’s called the 340i and has 322bhp and 332lb ft for a 0-62mph dash of 5.1sec.
All of the four-cylinder diesel options are new and are based around BMW’s latest B47 motor. It offers a modest 114bhp in 316d trim and 148bhp as the 318d, but the mainstays of the range will be the 320d and 320d ED (Efficient Dynamics).
The regular 320d has 188bhp and 295lb ft, for a 0-62mph time of 7.2sec in automatic trim. It emits 106g/km of CO2 regardless of whether it’s with that transmission or the standard six-speed manual.
The 320d ED loses a little power – to 161bhp – but keeps the same torque, so it’s only 0.6sec slower to 62mph. It dips beneath the 100g/km mark in automatic form (99g/km) but emits 102g/km as a manual. This is in contrast to Jaguar’s cleanest XE, which can’t crack 100g/km with its auto ’box.
The 330d is automatic only. It packs 255bhp and 413lb ft and manages 0-62mph in 5.6sec, while its CO2 emissions fall slightly, to 129g/km.
BMW will continue to offer the 3 Series with its xDrive four-wheel drive system. It’s available as an option on the 320i, 320d and 330d and is standard on the 335d.
The cleanest 3 Series of all (on paper at least) will be a plug-in hybrid that’s due on sale next year. Badged 330e, it will blend the petrol engine from the 320i with a 107bhp electric motor and an eight-speed automatic transmission. The 330e will be able to travel for up to 20 miles and at speeds of up to 75mph on electric power alone. BMW predicts overall CO2 emissions of just 49g/km. The prices should be in line with those of high-end diesel models.
At the other end of the spectrum, BMW is planning a revised M3 that gets the tweaks to the headlights and tail-lights and a revised interior layout, as well as a subtle reworking of the twin-turbocharged six-cylinder engine. The facelifted M3 is likely to make its debut at this autumn’s Frankfurt motor show.
The core of the line-up will be the 318d, 320i and 320d, since these motors are available with a choice of all four trim levels: SE, Sport, Luxury and M Sport. The entry-level 318i and 316d models are available in SE or Sport trim only.
UK specifications have yet to be finalised, but SE trim will have cloth seats and fewer chrome highlights in the cabin. Sport and Luxury are both expected to have leather and they’ll bring a longer options list and different designs of larger alloy wheels. The controversial Luxury and Sport line badges will continue – they’re still positioned on the front wings – but their design has been modernised.
The 3 Series Touring gets the same styling tweaks as the saloon and shares its revised engine line-up and new chassis settings. But since the car’s metal bits are relatively unchanged, so are the key dimensions. As a result, the Touring will continue to offer a flat, well-shaped load bay but less overall space than some of its key rivals.
Speaking to Autocar at the launch of the updated model, BMW Marketing boss Ian Robertson said: “The first 3 Series had a very clear vision to set us apart from the opposition - and that is still the goal.
“It is the car that put BMW on the map - in it's first three years on sale, sales rose 74% - and to date 40 million 3 Series have been sold - it is the biggest selling premium car in history and accounts for a quarter of our global sales.