Ask some auto geeks and they’ll claim that BMW’s 3 Series is the German automaker’s most important line. In production since 1975, the iconic compact luxury sedan is BMW’s best selling model, accounting for more than 30 percent of its total sales.
BMW recently announced the sixth generation of the BMW 3 Series, set to make it’s debut in US showrooms in February 2012. The announcement goes to great length to detail the technical specs, powertrain details and the luxurious details that make the 3 Series as popular as it is. But buried deep within the press release is a nugget sure to excite an eco-conscious car nut.
After detailing improvements in the car’s overall efficiency, like the auto start-stop function and brake energy regeneration, BMW confirms what we’ve long suspected by saying “we will add another cutting-edge engine to the line-up in 2012, when the BMW ActiveHybrid 3 will premiere.”
Look for the hybrid version of the 3 Series to feature the 225 kW/ 300 hp inline 6-cylinder engine with BMW TwinPower turbo technology and a hybrid-specific eight-speed automatic transmission with integrated electric motor which for limited periods can increase power by up to 40 kW/ 55 hp. In European testing, the ActiveHybrid 3 scored an 36.7 MPG rating.
This fourth production hybrid model for BMW, which follows the ActiveHybrid 7, ActiveHybrid 6 and ActiveHybrid 5, can also run solely on electric power for brief periods to cover a distance of between 2 to 2.5 miles. Top speeds in electric only range from 37 mph (60 km/h) under load to 100 mph (160 km/h) on overrun (coasting).