Having been out-BMWed (new word for you) by the current C-Class, Bavaria is keen to return to the top of the compact executive segment. Details apparently uncovered by Autocar point to a revolutionary vehicle ready to be everything to everyone.
As far as design is concerned the next 3 Series should be a step outside of the current look. Previous Director of Design Chris Bangle believed in radical styling changes only after every second generation. Should the new boss Adrian van Hooydonk keep to the same philosophy then we should see a 3 that is only slightly different from the current car come 2011. What is for sure is that it will have exceptional aerodynamics with an expected Cd figure of around 0.24, thanks in part to something called an Air Curtain.
Fuel efficiency is of course the big talking point these days. BMW already has EfficientDynamics as its flagship fuel-saving system. It will be taken to the next level for the 3. An example of this is the use of "black box" technology that currently resides in 3 Series vehicles. One piece of information gathered is that those who pilot 320d models drive the fastest and the longest distances. So the next 320d will take this into account and offer better performance and an even longer per-tank range. Some form of kinetic energy recovery system will be fitted as well.
Turbocharged units will be in full circulation at BMW by the time the 3 Series hits the streets. For its purposes we may see three-cylinder petrol turbo engines of a 1.5-litre displacement delivering about 150hp (112kW) while their diesel counterparts are likely to offer around 300Nm of torque. The 8-speed automatic gearbox first seen in the 7 Series will make its way into the 3 while the 7-speed DCT keeps its exclusive place within the performance models.
The internet is becoming far more important to the automotive world than ever before. Therefore the 3 Series will be well connected and feature technology like real-time traffic information. A new power-efficient air conditioning system is being developed to debut in the range as well.
FOR PICS of BMW model wind channel Aerodynamic Testing Centre: