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BMW unwraps 2012 3 Series

Today, BMW released details and photos of the 2012 3 Series, an evolution of its popular sedan. The new version comes out with refined styling and a new engine option.

2012 BMW 335i
BMW released photos and specifications for its updated 3 Series today.

Rather than wait for the upcoming Los Angeles Auto Show, BMW took the cover off its 2012 BMW 3 Series today, showing off a car loaded with new cabin technology and boasting a new engine option. And there was one more thing, the announcement of a hybrid version.

As often happens with model updates, the 3 Series gets larger, increasing length by 3.6 inches. But the good news is that BMW also increased the front and rear track, at the same time lowering overall weight by 88 pounds. And BMW insists it maintained its traditional 50/50 weight distribution.

Among the four immediate models BMW announced, the U.S. will probably not get the 320d or the 320d EfficientDynamics version, both using a 2-liter, four-cylinder diesel engine. We should continue to get the 335i, powered by a twin-scroll turbo 3-liter inline six-cylinder engine. The 328i gets the biggest change, featuring BMW's new twin-scroll turbo 2-liter, four-cylinder engine. Making 245 horsepower, that smaller engine gets the 328i to 62 mph in 5.9 seconds. BMW did not mention a 335d model, suggesting that the six-cylinder diesel variant has been scrapped.

BMW will make its eight-speed automatic transmission available in the 3 Series, along with its six-speed manual. An idle-stop feature shuts down the engine at traffic stops, helping to save gas. BMW also adds an Eco Pro setting to the drive modes that is designed to maximize fuel economy.

For cabin tech, BMW announced an array of new driver assistance features, such as a full-color head-up display, which would not only show navigation and current vehicle speed, but can also indicate the speed limit on the current road, and whether passing is allowed. Other features will include adaptive cruise control, lane-departure warnings, and surround-view cameras to help prevent parking lot dings.

In our story on BMW's apptastic future, we covered new connected features of BMW's iDrive system. The new 3 Series benefits from many of these innovations, such as iPhone calendar integration, which can show your upcoming meetings on the car's LCD.

And the one more thing happens to be the ActiveHybrid 3, a hybrid version of the 3 Series following on the ActiveHybrid 7 and ActiveHybrid 5. This latest hybrid will not be unveiled until next year, and BMW released no specifications for the model. But we expect it to come with essentially the same power train as its hybrid predecessors.