The Refreshed 2016 BMW 3-Series Will Be Faster, Stiffer, and Greener

May 07, 2015 07:00 AM EDT | Jeff Jablansky

In the face of luxury marques around the world refreshing and growing their entry-level and compact sedans and wagons, BMW is stepping up with a refresh of its own for the 2016 3-series. It's hard to believe that the current 3-series has only been around for about three years, but competition from Cadillac, Lexus, and Mercedes-Benz, among others, is keeping BMW awake at night.

What is it?

This is the sedan that put BMW on the map, so don't fault the automaker for not messing with success. If the overall look of the 2016 3-series sedan is sportier to your eyes, that's no accident. The Sport Line trim is now standard on the 328i and above, and the headlights and taillights now appear much sharper. LED headlights will be available for the first time, too.

What's new or changed?

The greatest changes in the 2016 3-series lineup are under the skin, starting with a refreshed engine roster. A new 3.0-liter, 320-hp turbocharged inline-six engine in the all-new 340i and 340i xDrive displaces the heretofore most powerful engine that belonged to the 335i and 335i xDrive. Existing 3-series models, the 320i and 328i, are unchanged. A 8-speed automatic remains the standard transmission across the board, while a 6-speed manual will remain a no-cost option.

In addition, BMW will introduce the 330e, its first plug-in hybrid effort in the segment. BMW estimates total system output of approximately 250 hp, and we guess that it will use a four-cylinder gasoline engine in the United States, much like Mercedes-Benz's own hybrid.

Work has been done to improve the suspension, as well. BMW avers that the revised 3-series variants will have better steering and "reduced roll" over the models that they replace.

Beyond the powertrain and mechanical updates, new headlights and taillights are differentiating factors. We see a lot of 4-series coupe in the new design. Design changes are much more subtle on the M3 sedan, which receives some styling updates (shown below) but little else. The M3—and its two-door complement, the M4—is a 425-hp powerhouse in its own right. Additionally, to make life easier for the directionally challenged and mapless, BMW will push updates directly to 3-series navigation systems.

Can I buy it?

Soon. Expect the '16 3-series before the year 2016.

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