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2012 BMW 3 Series (photos)

BMW unveiled an update to the 3 Series today, showing off a larger car with new engine and tech options. The 2012 BMW 3 Series can be had with an eight-speed automatic transmission. There is also a hybrid version.

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Wayne Cunningham
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BMW showed off the 2012 model year redesign for its 3 Series, which encompasses the 328i and the 335i in the U.S. In other markets there are also two diesel engine options, and BMW will unveil the ActiveHybrid 3 next year.
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The new 3 Series shows off design refinement, with headlight casings touching the traditional kidney-shaped grille openings. The hood comes down to meet the top of the grille, presenting a sharper appearance than the outgoing model. Deep contour lines score the sides. BMW also increased the size of the car, adding 3.6 inches to overall length and 2 inches to the wheelbase. Track increased by 1.5 inches in front and 1.9 inches at the rear wheels.
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BMW continues the 335i model with its twin-scroll turbo, direct-injection 3-liter inline six-cylinder engine, producing 306 horsepower. The 328i model gets BMW's new twin-scroll turbo direct-injection 2-liter four-cylinder engine, which produces 245 horsepower. Despite the smaller displacement, the four-cylinder engine gets the 328i to 62 mph in just 5.9 seconds, only .4 second slower than the 335i.
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BMW also announced the ActiveHybrid 3, which it will unveil next year. This car will use the hybrid system BMW developed for its ActiveHybrid 7 and ActiveHybrid 5. Although BMW has not released specifications for the power train, it will likely be the same turbocharged six-cylinder engine used in the two other hybrids, enhanced with an electric motor and lithium ion battery pack.
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BMW will make all of its latest cabin technology available in the new 3 Series, including driver assistance systems and fuel economy aids. As shown here, the 3 Series gets a wide LCD that slides up from the dashboard. BMW also promises a new full-color head-up display, which will project a variety of driving information on the windshield.
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BMW makes a number of fuel-efficiency technologies available in the new 3 Series, such as brake regeneration, which helps keep the battery charged, reducing the need for the engine to act as a generator. An idle-stop feature will also be available, which shuts off the engine at traffic stops to save gas.
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To the drive modes BMW offered on the outgoing model, including Sport and Sport Plus, BMW adds Eco Pro, a mode designed to maximize fuel economy. Eco Pro has advanced features that will use the navigation system to determine upcoming terrain features, adjusting the engine tuning appropriately.
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Another fuel-saving feature is the eight-speed automatic transmission. Its higher gears allow the engine to run at lower speeds on the freeway.
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BMW continues to enhance its iDrive infotainment system with cutting-edge technology. As we detailed in a prior article, BMW is adding features such as iPhone calendar connectivity, so the car will be able to display appointments on its LCD and load meeting locations into its navigation system.
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BMW adds a number of driver assistance features to the 3 Series, such as a surround-view camera to aid in parking, adaptive cruise control, lane-departure warnings, and alerts for speed limits and no passing zones.

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