BMW is planning to dramatically expand the number of offerings within its various model ranges, especially the strong-selling 3-series that is the backbone of the brand. All eyes are on the next 3, due for 2012.
Aside from the usual body styles—sedan, station wagon, coupe, and retractable-roof convertible—BMW will also build a five-door hatchback version featuring an aggressive design that will combine station-wagon practicality with coupelike style. In other words, the 3-series range will get its own version of the 5-series GT concept, BMW’s attempt to cross-pollinate an SUV and a station wagon. Like the 5-series GT, the 3-series GT will offer two adjustable seats with a center console in the rear and straddle the fine line between BMW SUV and BMW wagon in regard to overall height.
Optional equipment such as a lane-departure warning system, night vision, a system to prevent the driver from nodding off, and radar-based adaptive cruise control with collision-mitigating automatic braking will bring tech features of the 5- and 7-series into the realm of the 3.
Like the current 3-series, powertrain and suspension tuning will remain sporty. But for those who want greater control, BMW will offer a three-stage driving-dynamics button similar to that of Audi’s drive select. It will sharpen or soften damping as well as steering, gearbox, and throttle responses.
BMW will also offer a hybrid version of the 3-series. Like the system in the upcoming X5 hybrid, developed in a joint venture with GM, Chrysler, and Daimler, this one will augment the transmission with two electric motors. Expect a fuel savings of about 20 percent.