Consumer Guide's Impressions of the 2013 BMW 3-Series
It's still a few years off, but the next iteration of BMW's top-seller is shaping up as a mix of fresh styling, big-Bimmer tech features, and thriftier engines. And yes, the redesigned 3-Series is almost sure to cost more.
What We Know About the 2013 BMW 3-Series
The next edition of BMW's top-selling 3-Series is in the works, but don't look for it anytime soon. Reports indicate the redesigned "F30" line won't start home-market sale until 2012, which likely means a 2013 U.S. debut. Typical of European brands, the new 3-Series will launch with sedans, then add wagons and coupes a year or so later. An updated hardtop-convertible should arrive in 2014. Also due is a first-ever 3-Series 4-door hatchback, a sort of kid brother to the recently announced 5-Series GT and with most of the same functional attributes. The current E90 3-Series design will be seven years old when the rollout begins, having bowed in Europe during 2005 and in America for model-year '06--quite a long run in today's super-competitive global auto business.
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The 2013 BMW 3-Series has lately been spied testing in Germany disguised in E90 bodywork, albeit with some telling alterations. Prime among them are a reported wheelbase stretch to 110.2 inches, up 1.5 inches, and axle tracks broadened by perhaps 2 inches front and rear, matched by like gains in overall width. The F30 should also be a bit longer than E90, but little, if any, taller. Curb weights will likely rise, but we think BMW will limit the gains to 100-200 pounds. As with E90, the F30 architecture--which may or may not be technically "all-new"--will also underpin BMW's smaller 1-Series premium-compact cars that get their own redesign for release about a year before the new 3s.
Chassis design is said to be basically a current-model carryover. Though the suspension may get some redesigned hardware, the 2013 BMW 3-Series will retain a 4-wheel independent setup with front struts, so-called "Z-axle" multilink rear geometry, and an antiroll bar at each end. Four-wheel disc brakes with ABS will continue per BMW tradition. So, too, a standard stability system with traction control, available auto-adjusting shock absorbers, and BMW's optional "Active Steering" that's designed to quicken low-speed response for more-nimble handling. Wheel sizes are likely to stand pat as well, with 16-inchers, 17s, 18s, and 19s all available, depending on model. Run-flat tires should remain standard across the board, mainly because they eliminate the need for a spare wheel and thus save a little gas-wasting weight.