The 2012 BMW 3-Series Makes Its Virtual Debut

Posted: October 14, 2011 in BMW
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In a surprise move, today, BMW introduced the all-new 2012 3-Series on Facebook.  Facebook? WTF?

2012 BMW 3-Series sedan

No, the world debut wasn’t at last month’s Frankfurt Auto Show (that show belonged to the all-new Porsche 911).  And it’s not at the upcoming (18-27 November) LA Auto Show (even though Southern California is BMW’s largest regional market).  It will make its auto show debut at the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit (9 January 2012).   But it was Facebook that scored the world introduction.   So much for tradition.  But the reality is that Facebook is a bigger platform than any physical auto show.

It shows you just how important social media has become since the outgoing BMW 3 (internal codes E90 – E93) debuted in 2006 (2005 in Europe).  Facebook was barely getting started in 2005.  YouTube was just starting up and Twitter hadn’t been invented yet. Six years later, Facebook is the largest social media platform in the world – not just the United States – with more than 800 million users.

It speak volumes that BMW chose Facebook as the worldwide launch platform for it’s most important product. Today, if you’re looking to reach as many people worldwide as possible at a very low cost, it makes perfect sense to do it on Facebook and control the information, content and images.  It sure gets lots of people to “like” your Facebook page! You can be sure that there will be many YouTube clips posted withing nano-seconds of the live broadcast (See below).

The 3-series is the heart and soul as well as the bread and butter for BMW. It has to be a success for BMW to prosper in the future.  You can’t afford any misstep in the cutthroat automotive business or another company with newer, fresher, more desirable products will suck up your customers. Just ask Toyota. It’s US market share has dropped from 15.3% to 11.5% between 2010 and 2011.  That’s partly due to the earthquake shortage and partly due to a dull product line and heated competition from Hyundai/Kia, Ford, GM and Nissan.

A product cycle in the automotive business isn’t like any other.  It’s so costly and complex to engineer a new model that it takes a few years – a minimum of 3, and more likely 4-5 years – to complete.  By the time you see a new car in showrooms, the car company is already deep into the development of the next refresh.  If  the car is a flop or if it has serious deficiencies, it can’t just be changed with the flick of a switch or snap of a finger.  It takes an army of engineers and designers to make even small changes.

Some disasters can be reversed in a relatively short amount of time:  New Coke and Classic Coke.  Netflix and Qwikster. But even short-lived blunders can cost companies dearly in market share and brand image.

In the automotive world, serious blunders can kill sales and aren’t easily or quickly fixed.  The prime example today is the 2012 Honda Civic.  Honda’s sales are down, and it’s not just because of the earthquake earlier this year.  The new Civic looks worse outside and has been cheapened inside. With the exception of the sporty SI model, the Civic has been branded “uncompetitive.” In fact, Consumer Reports, which usually can’t find a Civic it doesn’t like, couldn’t recommend the new Civic.  Ouch.  It will take Honda longer to dig out of the Civic ditch than it will for Japan recover from the Tōhoku earthquake or the radiation leak at the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant.

2012 Honda Civic Sedan EX. The poor thing just isn't the belle of the ball any longer. It's a shame. What happened to Honda?

That future will not be in the tea leaves for BMW’s new 3-Series.  Below is the short-version press release from BMW this morning.  You can also download the full English version of the press release here:  BMW_3er_EN.

1999 BMW 318ti

The big news comes from the drivetrain department. For the first time in ages (since the BMW 318ti 1995-1999), BMW’s entry level 328i will come with a 2.0L 4-cylinder, direct-injected Twin Turbo gasoline engine making 245 hp and 258 lb-ft torque mated to an 8-speed ZF automatic transmission. Yes, a 6-speed manual will still be available, but in LA, you won’t find that many takers.  The new powertrain is more powerful and more fuel efficient that the 3.0L inline six it replaces.  The reports I’ve read of this powertrain in a BMW 528iT were very enthusiastic.

It should be in showrooms on 11 February 2012.  At the end of 2012, probably as a 2013 model, BMW will introduce a 3-series gas-electric hybrid for the first time.


  • New BMW face emphasises dynamic and elegant design.
  • BMW 3 Series now available in three different equipment lines.
  • Full-colour Head-Up Display for the sports sedan.
  • Sporty suspension tuning with enhanced ride comfort.
  • All engines with the latest BMW TwinPower Turbo technology.
  • All engines can be combined with an eight-speed automatic gearbox.
  • Driving Experience Control with Eco Pro mode; Auto Start-Stop function included as standard.

The sixth generation of the BMW 3 Series Sedan, the world’s best-selling premium car, sets new benchmarks in terms of sporting prowess, elegance and comfort. The pioneering history of the 3 Series serves as inspiration for the new sports sedan, whose powerful styling represents a fresh interpretation and conscientious development of traditional BMW design cues. The new BMW face, with flat headlights reaching along as far as the BMW kidney grille, emphasises the elegantly dynamic design of the new BMW 3 Series. The sixth generation of the 3 Series has grown in size compared to its predecessor, with its wide track (front + 37 mm, rear + 47 mm) particularly prominent, and the car’s increased length (+ 93 mm) and augmented wheelbase (+ 50 mm) also accentuate its sporting silhouette. Inside the new BMW 3 Series Sedan, the noticeable increase in space benefits the rear passengers above all. And the BMW 3 Series range is now also available in a trio of trim and equipment variants – the Sport Line, Luxury Line and Modern Line. Each presents its own individual take on the character of the sports sedan, with exclusive, high-quality material combinations and unbeatable build quality underlining the premium ambience of the new range.

Drive and chassis technology have always been key areas of expertise for the brand, and agility and driving dynamics remain outstanding attributes of the new BMW 3 Series Sedan. The new car belies its larger dimensions with a kerb weight 40 kilograms (88 lb) below that of its predecessor. In addition to the sports performance typical of the brand, the further enhanced levels of comfort on board the new 3 Series make a significant contribution to driving pleasure.

A choice of four refined, economical and muscular engines – all of which feature new BMW TwinPower Turbo technology – will be available for the new BMW 3 Series Sedan from launch. In addition to two further optimised diesel powerplants and the already successful six-cylinder petrol unit, customers can also enjoy the talents of the new turbocharged four-cylinder variant in the BMW 328i. This latest-generation petrol engine rewards the driver with a dynamic driving experience coupled with reduced fuel consumption and emissions.

BMW is the first carmaker to offer an eight-speed automatic gearbox in the premium mid-size segment. It can be specified in combination with any of the petrol and diesel engines in the range and links up with the Auto Start-Stop function that comes as standard. Compact and exceptionally efficient, it allows the new BMW 3 Series to match or outperform models fitted with the standard six-speed manual gearbox in terms of both fuel economy and emissions. The new eight-speed automatic brings together shift comfort, dynamic performance and efficiency of the highest order, making it the perfect partner for the new sedan’s dynamic potential.

As components of the BMW EfficientDynamics technology line-up, the Auto Start-Stop function, Brake Energy Regeneration, Optimum Shift Indicator and need-based operation of ancillary components (including a disengageable air conditioning compressor) also play their part in reducing fuel consumption. Added to which, the new Driving Experience Control switch not only offers Comfort, Sport and Sport + options, but also ECO PRO mode, which gives all the models in the range the potential to further improve these figures. This switch helps drivers maximise fuel economy through their driving style, thereby enabling them to increase the distance they can travel between visits to the pumps. The same goes for the CO2-minimising BMW 320d EfficientDynamics Edition, whose peak output of 120 kW/163 hp contrasts with average fuel consumption in the EU driving cycle of 4.1 l/100 km (68.9 mpg imp) and CO2 emissions of 109 g/km. BMW will add further cutting-edge engines to the line-up in 2012, when the BMW ActiveHybrid 3 will also celebrate its premiere.

Enhanced superiority, convenience and safety thanks to intelligent connectivity.
BMW ConnectedDrive offers an unmatched combination of driver assistance technology and mobility systems for the new BMW 3 Series range. A new arrival in the premium mid-size segment is the latest-generation full-colour Head-Up Display, which projects key information – in sharp resolution – onto the windscreen so it appears directly in the driver’s field of view. Also available is Surround View with Side View and Top View, which gives a bird’s-eye perspective of the vehicle and the area around it. In addition, a parking assistance system helps the driver to manoeuvre into parking spaces. Among the other assistance technology available under the BMW ConnectedDrive banner are Active Cruise Control with Stop&Go function, the Lane Change Warning System and Lane Departure Warning System with camera-based Collision Warning system, which are offered for the first time in a BMW 3 Series Sedan. Real-Time Traffic Information (RTTI) and special apps such as “BMW Connected” for using social networks are also available. An innovative comfort access function allowing hands-free opening of the boot lid and the additional Active Protection occupant protection system are likewise included on the options list, as is Advanced eCall with automatic position finding from BMW Assist. In the event of an accident, this system gives the emergency services detailed information on the nature of the collision before they arrive at the scene of the accident.

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  1. djsedm says:

    Great Post -Todd, my sister heard about some of the changes for the 2012, 3 series and didn’t like them so she pulled the plug and bought a 2011, 325 this summer! Got a great deal and loves the car.

  2. Todd Bianco says:

    Well, BMW will be giving some GREAT lease deals on the outgoing 3-series ahead of the arrival of the 2012 model. I’m sure your sister got a great deal. Good for her! I’m very interested in the 3 Hybrid. I’ve been looking for a rear drive car that gets great fuel economy.

    • Bert says:

      Todd…. As a proud 3 series owner I was intrigued to see how they were going to do the roll out today. I’m looking to buy a new vehicle next year and environmental concerns plus fuel economy are high priorities. We will see how this new model plays out.

      • Todd Bianco says:

        P.S. I’ve owned two 3-series cars. A 2004 325iT and a 2007 335i. The fuel economy really started to kill me in 2008 when gas prices spiked at nearly $5/gal in LA. I never fell in love with the run-flats either.

  3. Todd Bianco says:

    I’ll be very interested to see the fuel economy features on the new BMW 3. The combined fuel economy figure for the 328i, on the European cycle, is 6.4 liters per 100 km. That’s around 37 mpg US, but as you know, when these cars show up in the US, the EPA figures can vary substantially. The 2012 Mercedes C250 with the turbo 2.0L 4 cylinder engine is rated at 21/31/25. I’m pretty sure the new 328i will best that, but I have no idea by how much.

    I wish BMW would bring its 2.0L TwinTurbo diesel engine to the 3 in the US. But I don’t know if that will ever happen. It would be a very sporty and fuel efficient option.

    The problem I have with a car like the Mercedes C250 is that the 2012 Dodge Charger and Chrysler 300 offer nearly as good fuel economy 19/31/23 and in the case of the Dodge, for 35k (V6, 8-speed automatic) you get more options that the Mercedes even offers, plus rear drive and more room. Yeah, it’s not a Mercedes, but the overall value is unbeatable.

  4. […] The new 2012 BMW 3-series and it got its first US display in Detroit. I’ve already posted pictures and details about the new 3 and you can check those out here. […]

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