Making its first public appearance in Detroit, the 2012 BMW 3 Series Sedan heralds the arrival of a new and improved sixth-generation of the automaker's most important model line. On sale here in February, its bolder looks, greater operating efficiencies, more refined handling and additional comfort/convenience/tech touches will appear in all other members of the BMW 3 Series family in the months and years ahead.

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As we outlined in our original first look at the 2012 BMW 3 Series Sedan, the car is slightly larger than its predecessor, with an all-new structure, more aerodynamic bodywork and a completely redesigned suspension. Buyers will be able to enhance the base package with new Sport, Luxury and Modern trim packages that bring unique exterior and interior cosmetic touches. An M Sport package will join the options roster by midyear while a new 3 Series Wagon and xDrive all-wheel drive also are coming by the end of 2012. However the choice many 3 Series aficionados may find most intriguing is once again being able to opt for either four-cylinder or six-cylinder power.

For the first time since 1999, an American-spec BMW 3 Series will feature a 328i model with a four-cylinder engine. This time around, it's a 2.0-liter turbocharged/intercooled unit that relies on BMW's dual-scroll TwinPower Turbo technology along with direct fuel injection, Valvetronic variable valve timing and Double Vanos variable camshaft timing to make a formidable 240 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque. As we discovered from our recent first drive in a new BMW 328i Sedan, this free-revving base motivator delivers impressive performance, whether backed by a standard six-speed manual transmission or the optional eight-speed automatic. BMW claims it will send the 328i four-door from 0-60 mph in just 5.7 seconds.

Those still desiring the power of six can go for the 2012 BMW 335i Sedan, which retains the same 3.0-liter inline-six used in the 2011 3 Series. Also fortified with TwinPower Turbo might, it cranks out 300 ponies and 300 lb-ft of twist and can be paired with either transmission but now is even more fuel efficient - six to 16 percent more, depending on gearbox choice. In addition to their optimized aero elements, both the 328i and 335i models also boast numerous other mileage-maxing technologies, including Auto Start/Stop, Brake Energy Regeneration and BMW's ECO PRO Intelligent energy management system.

As a final touch, the 2012 BMW 3 Series Sedans offer even more premium standards and optional features, from a new generation full-color Head-Up Display, Active Blind Spot Detection and Lane Departure/Collision Warning systems to a Rear View camera with Surround View, BMW Parking Assistant and a hands-free decklid opening function. While complete pricing has yet to be released, the 2012 BMW 3 Series Sedan line will start at $35,795.


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