BMW took the top position in the U.S. luxury car market last year and to make sure that it keeps the title this year, its new entry-level 3-Series sedan is set to be released in U.S. showrooms in the weekend. BMW, the largest premium automaker, faces competition from Daimler AG's Mercedes-Benz, General Motors Co.'s Cadillac and Volkswagen AG's Audi.
BMW was able to outperform Mercedes in 2011 largely due to the success of the 3-Series, which was first presented in 1975. BMW also credited the 3-Series for having wrestled the U.S. luxury crown away from Toyota Motor Corp.'s Lexus.
The new 3- Series, which has more power yet greater gas mileage than previous versions, will be competing with several competing entry-level luxury sedans. Ludwig Willisch, the CEO of BMW North America, said that ever since the release of its highly successful 3-Series, the automaker has been “hunted” by rivals. The new 3-Series makes its debut as Mercedes is hoping to do better than BMW.
Last month, Mercedes was the top-selling U.S. luxury brand with sales rising 24% to 20,306 while BMW had a 3.1% increase to 16,405. Lexus, which was no. 1 for 11 years until 2011, is aiming to raise U.S. sales by over 25% this year to 250,000.
Mercedes began to sell an updated C-Class sedan in September that ended the year with an 11% increase, surpassing the 3- Series sedan with just 500 units higher. Audi intends to release an updated A4 sometime middle of the year. Furthermore, GM's Cadillac will release the ATS in the first quarter. This would be Cadillac’s first compact luxury car in about 25 years.
The BMW 3-Series Sedan has been the symbol of the premium carmaker’s dynamics, sportiness as well as stylish elegance. The latest and sixth generation of the BMW 3-Series Sedan continues to possess and preach those attributes and even improves on these matters by providing an ideal balance of sportiness and elegance. Its dynamic proportions are defined by its long wheelbase, short front overhang, sweeping bonnet and its set-back greenhouse.
Meanwhile, the sporty appearance of the new BMW 3-Series Sedan is defined by its wedge shape, its wider track (plus 37 mm at the front and plus 47 mm at the rear) and its athletic front end.
Its aggressive stance is highlighted by a wide, squat version of the slightly forward-slanting BMW kidney grille, as flanked by twin headlights with LED accent lights. These headlights feature corona rings if xenon units are availed.
When viewed from the front, it seems that the headlights and kidney grille of the new BMW 3-Series Sedan form a single unit, thanks to the fact that these lamps extend to the frame of the grille.
This styling helps the sedan’s wide stance. Sporty touches could also be seen up front of the new BMW 3-Series Sedan, like the two larger intakes – replacing the central intake – located below the headlights.
On the far left and right of these main intakes are small vertical ducts that help create the so-called "Air Curtain" that could enhance air flow around the front wheels for better aerodynamic efficiency. This Air Curtain also helps the new BMW 3-Series Sedan save fuel when cruising at high speeds.