Now 37 years old, the BMW 3 series in its sixth generation will debut at the 2012 North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) and for the first time will include the technology currently available in its 5 and 7 series siblings.
That technology currently includes lane-departure warning system, night vision, a system to prevent the driver from falling asleep, and radar-based adaptive cruise control with collision-mitigating automatic braking.
The 2012 3 Series is expected to be powered by a new family of aluminum four-cylinder petrol engines ranging from 135 to 245 horsepower. These will include new technologies such as variable intake and exhaust-valve timing, sequential turbochargers, and direct fuel injection. The 245 hp (183 kW; 248 PS) four-cylinder may be included in US-bound models (the last four-cylinder 3 series was the 1999 318ti with a 138 hp (103 kW; 140 PS) engine). The N52 3.0L naturally aspirated I6 may be replaced by the N20 with almost equivalent output.
A hybrid version featuring two electric motors and expected fuel savings of 20 percent, will also be available in the 3 and in the pending X5 hybrid, developed in a joint venture with GM, Chrysler, and Daimler. The new 3 Series is expected to be in sale in February
Article Last Updated: January 8, 2012.
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A sports, travel and business journalist for more than 45 years, James has written the new car review column The Weekly Driver since 2004.
In addition to this site, James writes a Sunday automotive column for The San Jose Mercury and East Bay Times in Walnut Creek, Calif., and a monthly auto review column for Gulfshore Business, a magazine in Southwest Florida.
An author and contributor to many newspapers, magazines and online publications, James has co-hosted The Weekly Driver Podcast since 2017.