The 2013 BMW 3-Series will be longer and wider, but will use many components from the current model. The 2009 BMW 3-Series is shown here.
The 2013 BMW 3-Series should reprise most current-model features, starting with standard front-side airbags and, convertibles excepted, head-protecting tubular side airbags covering both seating rows. Convertibles should retain head/torso front airbags, plus rollover bars designed to deploy from the rear headrests if sensors detect an impending tip. They should also continue with a power-fold hardtop instead of a fabric roof. Returning option lists should again include a luxury-focused Premium Package, a driver-oriented Sport Package with upgraded suspension and unique trim, a navigation system with BMW's iDrive infotainment controller (doubtless revised once more for easier use), steering-linked bi-xenon headlamps, keyless entry and starting, music-player plug-in, and the BMW Assist service with wireless cell-phone link.
In all, the 2013 BMW 3-Series seems to be another of those tricky redesigns that has to be "the same yet different," much like the E90 versus the prior E46 generation. And you really can't blame BMW for being cautious with a line that accounts for over 40 percent of its yearly sales and which still defines the brand in most people's minds. Besides, why risk losing sales when the market is already so tough? All of which suggests that if you like today's 3-Series, you should like the F30 at least as much. You can bet BMW is counting on it.
A Notable Feature of the 2013 BMW 3-Series
It was in 2005 that BMW began promoting "Efficient Dynamics," technical features intended to boost fuel economy through improved powertrain and aerodynamic performance. Early examples included direct fuel injection and the Valvetronic variable valve-timing system with "by-wire" electronic control instead of a mechanical throttle. Sources expect European versions of the 2013 BMW 3-Series to add several new Efficient Dynamics technologies, but it's unclear which ones might appear on U.S. models or what they would cost.
Perhaps the most likely prospect is an engine stop-and-start system like that on many gasoline/electric hybrid vehicles. Reportedly available only with automatic transmission, it uses an integrated starter/generator powered by a lithium-ion storage cell that charges as needed when the brakes are applied. A smaller, lighter service battery helps compensate for the added weight of these components. There's also talk of an oil pre-heating circuit for the engine, transmission, and differential. The idea is to reduce gas-wasting hydraulic friction in these components through faster fluid warmup after a cold start. Some BMWs already boast a so-called Intelligent Alternator Control that engages the alternator only when coasting and braking, this to eliminate another drain on engine efficiency. The new 3-Series may have "on-demand" oil and water pumps as well. Then there's "Active Aero," a series of inner-body flaps that adjust to smooth airflow through the body as well as around it as a way to trim gas-eating wind resistance. Serving the same end is a possible "active suspension" that slightly lowers the vehicle at highway speeds--not a new idea, but a plus in an age of concern about air quality, global warming, and dwindling oil supplies.
Speaking of hybrids, BMW was a development partner in the so-called Two-Mode transmission that General Motors now offers in several large hybrid SUVs and pickups; the same basic system is due as a 2010-model option for the big Dodge Ram pickup. BMW, however, favors clean-diesel power for vehicles like the 3-Series as a faster and cheaper route to better fuel efficiency and reduced emissions. As a result, sources think the company's hybrid offerings will be limited to the X6 premium-midsize SUV and to the 7-Series premium-large sedan. And it's unclear when even those might appear, as BMW is now slashing expenses wherever it can to offset sales and revenue losses from the economic downturn.