First Look: 2011 BMW 3 Series

By Editors on January 19, 2010 1:57 PM

Due in showrooms this spring, two-door versions of the 2011 BMW 3 Series will have a new look, a new engine and even better overall performance and fuel economy. Although it has yet to confirm specifics, BMW also admits that an even-more-potent 335is model is currently being prepared specifically for the U.S. market.

As for the standard 3 Series Coupe and Convertible, the 2011 models receive multiple cosmetic tweaks that help bring them in line with updates previously made to the Sedan. While their basic shapes carry over, a new hood, a re-contoured front fascia with wider twin-kidney grille, restyled corner-following Adaptive HID bi-xenon headlamps, new LED taillamps and revised exterior mirrors are the top modifications that enhance exterior refinement. Inside, a new multifunction steering wheel, revamped trims and the latest iteration of BMW's ConnectedDrive technology with an Internet option redefine the 2011 3 Series two-door models.

Underhood, the 2011 328i Coupe and Convertible carry on with their existing 230-horsepower naturally-aspirated inline-six, but the 335i variants swap their 3.0-liter twin-turbo N54 engine for a new, twin-scroll single-turbo N55 iteration. Although it shares the same block and displacement and retains the existing 300-horsepower/300 lb.-ft. of torque output figures, BMW's first inline-six to combine turbocharging and direct fuel injection with its Valvetronic variable intake-lift technology is more responsive, produces lower emissions and reportedly will get even better fuel economy than its predecessor. BMW claims the 2011 335i Coupe will run 0-60 mph in 5.3-5.5 seconds while the slightly heavier retractable hardtop Convertible can do that sprint in a still-quick 5.5-5.7 ticks. All versions will be electronically limited to a top speed of 130 mph in U.S. trim.

The multiple merits of its new N55 notwithstanding, there still appears to be a place for the N54 six in BMW's 2011 3 Series lineup in the form of the new 335is model. Also due in the spring, this U.S.-only offering will be an admittedly less intense, but considerably more-affordable alternative to an M3. Details are due shortly, but we do know it will carry some variation of the 335-horspower N54 engine used in the new BMW Z4 sDrive 35is and bring a number of unique cosmetic and functional enhancements.

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