Special xDrive versions of the Sedan and Sports Wagon offer all-weather capability to the 3-Series, albeit only with the 8-speed automatic. On the other hand, both the Coupe and Convertible can be had in special 335is versions that add a higher-output, 320-horsepower version of the 6-cylinder engine, plus a special 7-speed dual-clutch automated manual gearbox, as well as other performance improvements that bring some of the flavor of the high-performance M3.
The M3 is seen by BMW as a separate model altogether, although it's essentially a top-performance model based on the Coupe and Convertible. It comes with a 414-horsepower V8 and either a 6-speed manual or 7-speed M Dual Clutch Transmission, plus Electronic Damping Control with an optimized M Dynamic Mode. Compound cross-drilled brakes are also included, as are an M variable differential lock and an M Drive button that allows you to save personalized settings. A Competition Package is available and has a lowered suspension and wider-offset wheels.
Separately, those who like the idea of a sport sedan but want to make an especially green statement might want to consider the ActiveHybrid 3. With its turbocharged 'TwinPower' turbo 6-cylinder engine, 8-speed automatic transmission, and a sophisticated electric-motor and management system, the ActiveHybrid 3 delivers 335 hp to the rear wheels and can accelerate to 60 mph in as little as 5.3 seconds, yet it achieves EPA ratings of 25 mpg city, 33 highway. The system permits operation on electric power alone for up to 2.5 miles, as well as coasting with the gasoline engine off at up to 100 mph. The hybrid gets special L-shaped LED rear lamps, as well as badging and Streamline alloy wheels, plus more standard features, with dual-zone climate control standard. The lithium-ion battery pack reduces trunk space somewhat.
Sedan and Sports Wagon models both have Auto Start-Stop, which shuts the engine off at stoplights and smartly starts it again when the brake is released. There's also a new Driving Dynamics Control, with Comfort, Sport, Sport+ and Eco Pro modes,
Convertible models of the 3-Series come with a reasonable amount of cargo space, and their soft-top arrangement folds tightly and neatly away in just 23 seconds. Back seat is a bit tighter in the Convertible, as well as the Coupe, with the 3-Series Sedan and Sports Wagon offering easier entry and exit plus more rear legroom and width.
Sports Wagon models are distinguished by their elongated roofline and exemplary utility and versatility compared to the other models. Powertrains, trims and materials are comparable to those in the other models, yet it offers four cargo-floor tie-downs, a storage tray under the floor, a deep stowage compartment and a partition net, all to help keep cargo secure, while the rear seatbacks can be folded down as needed in three separate sections, with a 40/30/40 split. Compared to the last-generation wagon, there's more width between the wheel arches, and a wide tailgate opening, scuff plates and available racking systems for outdoor gear or storage boxes help make the most of it. A Top View mode for the rear-view camera system, as well as a BMW Parking Assistant, are there to help with visibility, and they may prove particularly useful with a loaded wagon.
Most of the 3-Series lineup is offered in Sport Line, Luxury Line, and Modern Line versions, with each of these distinguished by separate trims, materials, and details. There's also an M Sport package that brings an entire set of appearance features that give a nod to the M3 in appearance--with a firmer M Sport suspension, too.
Major options include a variable-ratio (Variable Sports) steering system, the Adaptive M Suspension, a Head-Up Display, Active Blind Spot Detection, Lane Departure Warning and a High-Beam Assistant. The rear-view camera system has a Surround View feature to help spot pedestrians or other objects when backing up, and the available Adaptive xenon headlamps swivel with the steering angle to help see around corners.
As part of the ConnectedDrive technology suite, the 3-Series models offer Bluetooth connectivity, text-to-speech capability, and features like Pandora and MOG music streaming through a BMW Connected app. All of these are accessed through the iDrive screen-based interface.