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Saturday, March 24, 2012

BMW F30 3 Series launched in Malaysia

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BMW Group Malaysia has just launched its all-new sixth generation F30 3 Series, officially replacing the recently discontinued E90 model generation, which has accounted for nearly half of the company's total sales volume since its Malaysian introduction in 2006 - some 10,743 units finding Malaysian homes.

Three model variants have been introduced, namely the 320d, 328i, and 335i. As per usual BMW practice, the first batch of cars arrive fully imported before the start of CKD operations, which is when we expect the 320i to appear. As their badges suggest, the engine options of the all-new F30 3 Series mirror those on the F10 5 Series - they are all turbocharged and equipped with 8-speed automatic transmissions as standard. 

The 320d and 328i get 2.0-litre four-cylinder powerplants whilst the 335i is powered by a 3.0-litre straight six. The diesel-powered 320d gets the highly-lauded N47 turbodiesel and boasts some pretty impressive numbers. Crank outputs of 184hp and 380Nm will shame many sports cars, yet rated fuel consumption of 4.5 l/100km will rival the best hybrids. Of course, do not expect to reproduce that figure if you regular put its 7.6-second century sprint claim to the test.

Main-seller of the F30 3 Series will likely be the 184hp/270Nm 320i, but since that variant is not available yet, options for petrol power start with the 328i, which gets the same N20 twin-scroll turbo engine tuned to higher outputs of 245hp and 350Nm. In the new 3 Series hierarchy, the 328i replaces the E90 325i, if you're among those who mourn the departure of the beloved N52 straight six, console yourself with a century sprint of 6.1 seconds and official rated consumption of 6.3 l/100km.

It's either that, or go all out for the range-topping 335i, where you do get the trademark BMW six-cylinder smoothness allied with the superlative punch of its twin-scroll turbocharger. The ballistic N55 engine shoves 306hp and 400Nm down its prop shaft, and in the compact frame of a 3 Series, that translates to 5.5 seconds zero-to-hundred, and a still decent 7.3 l/100km fuel consumption.

Recently introduced in the 5 Series and now featured in the 3 Series as well is the Driving Experience Control button, which allows drivers to select various driving modes including the Eco Pro setting which optimizes engine power delivery and operation of ancillaries to minimize fuel consumption. The system worked brilliant on the 528i M Sport which we tested recently, and we expect more of the same in the F30.

Being a vehicle of compact dimensions, the 3 Series does not get rear-wheel steering like the 5 and 7 Series, but it does continue BMW's migration to electric power steering for its mainstream models. The 335i features Variable Sport Steering, a speed-dependent system which varies steering ratio against steering angle. On a side note, it will be interesting to see if the new M3 will follow the M5's footsteps in using hydraulic steering instead.

Compared to the E90, BMW has expanded the F30's waistline a little. It measures 9.3cm longer from stem to stern, with the front and rear axles spaced 5cm further apart. Front and rear tracks have been increased by 37mm and 47mm, giving the car a larger and more stable footprint. BMW further claims that the frame's increased torsional rigidity and array of safety systems will make the F30 the safest 3 Series to date. Well, being the latest model, it should.

Inside, BMW has also taken care to improve the F30's cabin to give added levels of space and practicality over the E90. It may not be a big deal elsewhere, but BMW certainly saw it fit to point out that there are now two cup holders in front of the gear lever, and the door pocket will accommodate a 1-litre bottle. Rear passengers are now given an additional 15mm of leg room and 8mm of headroom over the E90. 

Allowing further levels of personalization, the 328i and 335i are offered with the option of Sport Line and Luxury Line trims. Sport Line adds high-gloss black finish to the kidney grille, air inlets and tailpipe trim on the outside, and sports seats, a sports leather steering wheel with red contrast stitching, subtle red trim accents, seat details and a sports style instrument cluster design in the inside.
 Above: Sport line, Below: Luxury line.



Meanwhile, takers of Luxury Line get the same exterior trim elements as Sport Line with the addition of high-gloss chrome finishing on the window frames. Inside, there is the option of selecting classic colours and further chrome accents as well as a wood trim catering to those with a taste for the classic and luxurious look and feel.

Like all contemporary BMW vehicles, the F30 comes with all of the latest innovations in information technology through BMW ConnectedDrive. The full range of driver assistance systems and mobility services include the BMW ConnectedDrive App, an interface system which integrates the cars Video Playback and iPod Plug-In functions allowing direct access to web radio, Facebook and Twitter directly through their on-board Control Display. The app is enabled in the 328i and 335i. In addition, the 335i also receives the revolutionary full colour BMW Head-Up Display (HUD) system.

The retail prices (on the road, without insurance, with BMW Service + Repair Inclusive (BS+RI)) for the new BMW 3 Series are: 

· BMW 320d - RM 268,800 
· BMW 328i - RM 309,800 
· BMW 335i - RM 488,800 

Pictures: Official BMW release.

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