2009 BMW 3 Series Preview

Jeff Youngs | Dec 31, 2008
FAST FACTS
  • Refreshed model for 2009
  • New front fascia, headlamps and tail lamps
  • Improved interior ergonomics
  • Next-generation iDrive
  • Newly available diesel powerplant
  • Upgraded all-wheel xDrive system
  • In showrooms Fall 2008

Introduction

The 3 Seriesis BMW's best-selling model. Tracing its roots back to 1975, the entry-level luxury vehicle is offered in sedan, coup_, convertible and sport wagon body styles with a variety of engine and driveline choices. With each subsequent generation, the 3 Series grows in size and refinement while adding innovative technology to keep it ahead of the competition from its primary rivals Audi and Mercedes-Benz. The current fifth-generation model first appeared in North America as a 2006 model. Now, BMW has rejuvenated the 3 Series with a new front and rear fascia, improved interior appointments, upgraded electronics, and an efficient diesel powerplant. The 2009 BMW 3 Series will arrive in showrooms in the fall of 2008.

Model Lineup

There are more than a dozen different BMW 3 Series models for 2009, making this the most diverse model in the German automaker's lineup. Consumers first choose a body style: sedan, coup_, convertible or sport wagon. Each of these is offered with a selection of three different 6-cylinder engines that for the first time this year include a diesel powerplant. A choice between rear- or all-wheel drive (RWD or AWD) is also available on many models.

Even the most basic BMW 3 Series model will feature a long list of standard equipment. For 2009, all 3 Series models are equipped with standard power windows, power locks, automatic headlamps, rain-sensing wipers, cruise control, and automatic climate control. To simplify the options, BMW has grouped many of the popular choices into packages. The Sport package adds sport suspension, sport steering wheel, sport seats, larger wheels and tires, and more. The Premium package adds leather upholstery, auto-dimming mirrors, lumbar support, and dual power seats. The Cold Weather package adds heated seats and a ski bag. Stand-alone options include adaptive Xenon headlamps, adaptive cruise control, on-board DVD-based navigation, Logic 7 premium sound, satellite radio, and an iPod adapter.

The 3 Series convertible models feature a power-operated, 3-piece, fully retractable hardtop with steel roof panels. Optional interior leather upholstery features sun-reflective technology to help keep the seats cool on a hot day. 3 Series Sport Wagon models offer a high-lift tailgate with a separate opening rear window. Roof rails, with available cargo accessories, and a wide-view Panorama moonroof are standard on the Sport Wagon.

Hardware

BMW offers a choice of three very different 3.0-liter, inline 6-cylinder engines. The standard powerplant, found in all "328i" models, is a normally-aspirated, gasoline-fed 3.0-liter engine rated at 230 hp with 200 lb.-ft. of torque. The second engine choice, and the most powerful offering for the standard 3 Series, is found under the hood of the "335i" models. Equipped with twin turbochargers and other performance enhancements, the gasoline-fed 3.0-liter engine is rated at 300 hp and 300 lb.-ft. of torque. All-new for 2009, BMW is offering a powerful 3.0-liter twin-turbo diesel engine on the "335d" models. The diesel 335d models will accelerate to 62 mph in just 6.2 seconds, BMW says. Average fuel economy is estimated at 23 mpg city/33 mpg highway.

BMW is one of the few automakers who still offer a standard 6-speed manual transmission in this segment; an automatic 6-speed STEPTRONIC transmission is optional. While RWD is standard, BMW's innovative xDrive AWD system (upgraded for 2009) is also available on select models. All 3 Series models feature fully-independent suspension with disc brakes front and rear with anti-lock control. Depending on model, standard wheels are either 16- or 17-inch aluminum alloy. Eighteen-inch aluminum wheels are optional on Sport package models. Run-flat tires, combined with a tire-pressure-monitoring system, are standard features on all 3 Series vehicles. BMW provides a 4-year/50,000-mile new-vehicle limited warranty and a 4-year/unlimited mileage membership in the BMW Assist Safety Plan. The BMW Maintenance Program includes all factory-recommended maintenance items for the first 4-year/50,000-mile period of ownership.

Safety

All 2009 BMW 3 Series models arrive with a long list of standard safety equipement. These include a dual-stage front-impact air bag Supplementary Restraint System (SRS) with dual-threshold deployment and 2-stage smart air bags protecting the driver and front passenger. Side air bags, and a front- and rear-seat Head Protection System (curtain air bags) offer additional protection to occupants. All models also include standard anti-lock brakes (ABS) and Dynamic Stability Control (DSC). The DSC includes BMW's versions of electronic brake proportioning, cornering brake stability enhancement, Dynamic Brake Control, Brake Fade Compensation, Brake Standby, Dynamic Traction Control, and Start-off Assistant. The AWD models include Hill Descent Control. Each outboard seating position features automatic pre-tensioners to further restrain occupants during a crash. Lower Anchors and Tethers for CHildren (LATCH) attachments are standard at outboard rear seating positions.

Technology

To improve the fuel economy and efficiency of the 2009 3 Series, BMW has fitted each model with Brake Energy Regeneration. In simple terms, the technology controls the electrical system to only charge the battery while the vehicle is braking, coasting or decelerating. This unique approach transfers full engine power to the driven wheels during acceleration (to improve fuel economy), and utilizes the kinetic energy that is typically lost during deceleration to charge the electrical system (to improve efficiency). According to BMW, Brake Energy Regeneration improves fuel efficiency by upwards of three percent. The system is continuously monitored by the vehicle's electronics. If necessary, it will continue to charge the battery during acceleration to prevent the electrical system from being completely drained.
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