Wednesday, October 24, 2012

BMW's New 3 Series - Entirely New Model Inside and Out, More Technology, and Finally a 3 Series Hybrid

One of the greatest cars for the last 20 some years is the BMW 3 series, and now it is getting an entirely new model for the 2013 model year.  Not only is the exterior and interior entirely different with this model, there is much more technology and gadgets in this model and something we've been waiting for for years - a 3 series hybrid!  Now you can have all the sportiness of a 3 series, including active suspension and 8-speed transmission, with the great mileage of a hybrid.  The new 3 Active Hybrid can drive entirely on electric power, or can use both electric motor and internal combustion engine to give you the speed and power you want with the awesome mileage that your wallet needs (especially after forking over up to $60,000 for a 3 series).  There is also much more technology and features in this new 3 series, hybrid or not, than previous models.  Much of this technology has been seen before in higher end BMW models, but now they can be had on the 3 series for a slightly lower price.  For instance if you want a new 7 series with all the cool cameras, heads up display, smart phone connectivity  etc. then you will be paying around $100,000, while if you get it all on a 3 series, it can be had for much less.

The styling is much like that of the current 7 series and 5 series platforms, which is much more universally accepted than the BMW models of the early 2000's.  Now BMWs accross the line are much more visibly appealing for more people inside and out.  The whole lineup has been redesigned and looks a lot better now, including the new 3 series model that has just been released.  Along with an all new exterior and interior the new 3 has all kinds of new technology and features now.  The new body style 3 series is super customizable, available in 3 distinct models: Lifestyle Edition, Sport Edition, and Exclusive Edition; and offering tons of different options.  You can get the 3 series you want to fit you and the way you drive while expressing yourself and your own personal style with a variety of different  trims, colors, interiors, wheels, body kits and more.  Whether you are interested in a cheap entry level 3 series to introduce you into the luxury lifestyle, you want a super fuel efficient hybrid model, or you want the super fast and sporty twin turbo model, BMW can accomodate.

Fuel economy is a huge factor in all the new 3 series editions, from the 3 Active Hybrid to the 335i with over 300 horsepower.  With tons of different engine options, both diesel and gasoline, as well as suspension and transmission choices the 3 series can achieve very high mileage while still offering the sportiness that BMW is known for.  An feature called Auto Start/Stop allows the car to turn off the engine while stopped in certain situations to save gas while at a red light or in traffic.  This allows the car to save fuel while still giving you the same driving experience by using input from sensors such as the alternator, battery, air conditioner, engine temperature, etc.  Brake regeneration is another feature that allows the engine to save gas.  By allowing the brakes to capture energy while slowing the vehicle, the car can use this energy to charge the battery, therefore lessening the drag the charging system has on the engine therefore causing the engine to use less gas.  Even the tires that BMW ships the 3 series cars with are designed to get maximum fuel economy by reducing the rolling resistance.  Manual transmission 3 series models come equipped with a feature that tells notifies the driver of when to shift for optimum mileage, depending on the current driving conditions, road speed, amount of acceleration and more.  All in all, the all new 3 series is thinking about your gas mileage more than you are - so no matter what you can still have a sporty car and still get great mileage.

As usual, the new 3 features tons of safety and convenience devices too.  Some features increase safety and make the car easier to drive at the same time, like active cruise control which monitors the vehicle ahead of you and modifies your driving speed accordingly.  If the car in front brakes, the active cruise control will slow down to keep the same following distance.  When going around a corner or when the wheel is turned slightly to one side while the lights are on the headlights will shine more light to that side so you can see where you are going in a bend.  The headlights also have a feature that automatically puts on the brights when necessary or turns them off when it detects other cars around that would be bothered by them.  Even the body of the car itself was designed with better crumple zones and enhanced strength to keep the passengers safe in the event of a crash.  Another feature to help in a crash is the emergency call function with location information.  As soon as a crash is detected, the car connects directly to the BMW call center who can then contact the proper authorities and let them know that you are in need of help and exactly where you are as well as such information as if the airbags were deployed and much more so that the emergency workers can be prepared enough.  Some features are purely convenient for the driver, such as the ability to start the car from the outside with a button on the key, or the heater that can turn on at certain times or when the car reaches a certain temperature to warm your car before you even get into it.

iDrive is the heart of the navigation, entertainment and control system of the car, the large LCD screen in the middle of the dash shows everything from navigation and car settings to the stereo and entertainment system and is controlled by the wheel and button located near the shifter in a perfect place to access it while driving.  The screen's functionality is enhanced when options are added as well, such as the parking distance control that shows where items are located around the car when backing up and parking, or the camera package that adds a set of color video cameras around the car to further assist in parking and navigating the car is tight situations.  If you have a compatible smart phone that you connect to the car's iDrive system, you can access apps right in your car.  Some of the things that these apps allow you to do is get traffic info, access your email and social network updates from twitter and facebook.

Just as all the previous iterations of the BMW 3 series right back to the original, this new model is groundbreaking.  The price may also do some breaking.  Like breaking your back to pay for it after it breaks your wallet!  Previous 3 series could be had for under $30,000.  However now, the cheapest 3 series is almost $40,000, and the most expensive model with all the options can almost tip the scale of $80,000 - and thats not even the high performance M3 that is sure to come in the next year or two at an even higher price.