The all-new BMW 3 Series unveiled: Facebook likes this


Facebook has hosted the launch of arguably the most important car in Europe, the new BMW 3 Series. Well, Munich actually hosted it, but BMW's German Facebook page streamed the event.

So already, BMW has given you a reason to like the 3 Series very much: today you finally got a legitimate excuse for staring at Facebook all afternoon during work hours. You like this.
Here it is, then: the Ford Mondeo's premium nemesis; the car that everybody wants, even though everybody already has one; the benchmark for three-box family saloons for five generations; the 'mobile' in 'upwardly mobile'.

Amazingly, BMW has sold 12 million of them since the first one in '75.

This, the sixth version, takes few aesthetic risks, as you can see. Unsurprising, given its pivotal role in the company's model lineup; even at the tail end of the controversial Chris Bangle era, the last 3 Series was spared the more extreme excesses of the 'flame surfacing' that made the last generation 5-, 6-, and 7 Series cars so visually, ahem, challenging.

The new 3 is bigger in all directions, with most of the augmentation dedicated to rear passenger space, says BMW.

Despite being bigger, it's lighter than the outgoing car, by a substantial 40kg on average – that's 88lbs, weight watchers. And performance comes through light weight, according to an eminent Lotus guru. (No, not Swizz Beatz.)

Due to go on sale in February 2012, the 3 Series will naturally be more economical than ever before, with the most parsimonious 320d EfficientDynamics Edition boasting 68.9mpg and 109g/km CO2 emissions; fires are starting in Regus centres nationwide as we speak, the result of fleet manager hands furiously rubbing together.

At the other end of the scale, the six-cylinder 335i isn't so bad with fuel either, nudging 40mpg despite pushing out 302bhp. Every version gets start-stop this time around.

An eight-speed automatic will be on the options list, as will a Head Up Display – both firsts for the 3 Series. BMW's ConnectedDrive system (what's with BMW's dislike of the space bar?) is more advanced now too, incorporating Active Cruise Control with a traffic jam abating Stop & Go feature, and a lane departure warning.

The car is built on a completely new chassis, having been developed over four years and with a total investment of over one billion euros. As usual, BMW promises class-leading refinement and handling dynamics, by which it means the car will be better than the Audi A4 and Mercedes-Benz C-Class.

We'll find out soon enough...
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