The next-generation 3-Series has been expected to be larger, growing 2 inches in length with a wider track and longer wheelbase. The 3-Series will come closer in looks to the current 5-Series, adopting the softer features of the new design paradigm of BMW's. The new 3 series will have shorter overhangs with more cabin space, as indicated by the spy shots so far.
The 3-Series will keep its existing forged-aluminum five-link rear suspension and aluminum-intensive double-joint struts at the front. Optional adaptive dampers will be available to the buyer. It may even feature the adaptive anti-roll chassis from the 5-Series.
Under the bonnet, an entry-level 1.6 liter turbo (borrowed from MINI) will be tuned to around 150 PS (110 kW). More interestingly, BMW will fit a direct-injection turbocharged 2.0 liter to the 3-Series to replace some of the output levels currently furnished by the naturally aspirated 3.0 liter 6-cylinder. This is important as the current 2.0L 4 cylinder unit is totally outclassed by the excellent 2.0TFSI unit in arch-rival Audi A4. A 3.0 liter turbocharged straight-six is still likely to top the range, but dialed up a little to around the 320 PS (235 kW) mark. BMW is expected to fit its 8-speed automatic to the next 3-Series too.
The new 3-Series is likely to debut at the end of 2011. The coupe, convertible and touring estate versions will arrive in the following year.