2016 BMW 3 Series: Plug-in hybrid among updates

By Bob Nagy on May 7, 2015 7:40 AM

A mid-cycle refresh of the 2016 BMW 3 Series Sedan and Sport Wagon blends subtle cosmetic changes with more substantial mechanical revisions, including a new 3.0-liter TwinPower Turbo inline-6 and a retuned suspension. The automaker also announced that it would be adding a new BMW 330e Plug-in Hybrid to the family in 2016, the first-ever for a 3 Series. Here in the U.S., the lineup for these two body styles will consist of 320i, 328i and 328d models and a new 340i that replaces the current 335i, as well as the iconic M3 model which will largely carry over. 

More engaging looks  

Exterior changes to the 2016 3 Series Sedan and Sport Wagon include the front/rear fascias which now have a more sculpted look similar to the new 4 Series. New halogen headlamps - full LEDs in the 340i and M3 - are matched with restyled LED running lights and larger side air intakes to give the 3 Series a more focused face. All but the 320i will offer Adaptive LED headlamps with Automatic High-beam System as an option. The rear features redrawn full-LED tail lights with additional trim accents. The 320i and 328i get new 17-inch standard wheels with 18-inch options while the 340i features 18-inch base rims and offers a 19-inch upgrade. For 2016, the 328i/328i and 340i models - including the xDrive AWD versions -- also will come with the formerly optional Sport Line trim and offer Luxury and M Sport Packages. 

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Inside, the 2016 3 Series cabin has a richer look thanks to revised trim with more chrome and high-gloss black accents set off with ambient lighting. The standard BMW ConnectedDrive now offers an enhanced range of services and the optional navigation features improved graphics, quicker response and over-the-air map updating via the vehicle's embedded LTE technology. Other new features of note for 2016 include a Head-Up display option and BMW's Parking Assistant that now adds functionality for head-in as well as parallel parking. The 328i/328d also will be available with an enhanced Premium Package that includes Comfort Access, Lumbar Support, a power moonroof, Sirius Satellite Radio with a no-cost one-year subscription and LED headlights, all of which are standard on 340i models.

New engine, upgraded transmissions 

While the 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engines in the 320i, 328i and 328d carry on unchanged at 180, 240 and 181 horsepower, respectively, the "N55" 3.0-liter inline-6 in the 335i is dropped for 2016, replaced by a "B58" 3.0-liter from the automaker's new EfficientDynamics modular family that also includes 3-cylinder and 4-cylinder engines sharing common 500cc cylinders. Standard fitment in the new 340i model and seeing its first use in any BMW, this new 3.0-liter makes 320 horsepower and 330 lb-ft of torque compared to the 300/300 stats of the previous engine.  

BMW also revised 3 Series transmissions for 2016. An 8-speed Steptronic automatic with mileage-enhancing Eco Pro and coasting mode is standard on the 320i with all other models featuring the Steptronic Sport Automatic that adds steering-wheel shift paddles. Both automatics benefit from a wider ratio spread, decreased torque converter slip and improved internal damping for 2016 while the 6-speed manual -- a no-cost option on 320i, 328i, 340i and 340i xDrive models - now has rev-matching downshifts. 

A sweeter suspension 

Last, but far from least, BMW revised the chassis tuning on the 3 Series, making changes to the geometry, electric power steering assist, rear dampers and Dynamic Stability Control on the base as well as the available M Sport and Adaptive M Suspension systems. The upgrades are intended to reduce body roll, improve directional stability and increase steering precision while providing the driver with a greater level of feedback. All but the 328d variants also can be fitted with a new Track Handling Package that brings Variable Sport Steering, Adaptive M Suspension, M Sport Brakes, and 18-inch Orbit Grey light-alloy wheels wrapped in Michelin Super Sport tires.

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BMW was less specific on the upcoming 330e Plug-in Hybrid that will launch at some point in calendar 2016 and replace the existing ActiveHybrid 3. However, it did say that the car's new green drivetrain will develop about 250 combined horsepower and 310 lb-ft of torque, enabling 0-60 mph acceleration of about 6.1 seconds (compared to 4.6-4.8 ticks for the new 340i), top out at 140 mph and travel up to 22 miles in pure EV mode. The 2016 BMW 3 Series Sedan and Sport Wagon are due to hit showrooms in August and pricing will be released closer to their actual on-sale date. We expect to hear more about what's in store for the 2016 BMW 3 Series Gran Turismo shortly. 

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