BMW will tell you it isn’t so, but the new 3 Series is the start of a softening of Chris Bangle’s most angular design language. The car you see is not an evolution of an existing car but a ground up model, an energetic attempt to re-invent the most popular BMW model with unarguably good looks that match its top class driving dynamics.
The first thing you notice is that the car has dropped the current teardrop headlamps and done away with the aircraft carrier trunk lid. Next to go are the cut lines and the aggressive mix of concave and convex panels. It’s still recognizably a BMW though. The big news underneath is the new multitude independent suspension (borrowed from the 5 series) is designed to combine unrivalled ride comfort, with taut handling. On top of that you can expect Dynamic Drive (that’s adjustable anti-roll bars), Active Steering(TM), and a four wheel drive system as options. The fifth generation BMW 3 Series superstar shines brighter than the predecessor with a torque loving, direct injection, and environmentally conscious engine. (Don’t rule out a hybrid just yet – by 2009 BMW’s partnership with DaimlerChrysler and GM will have born a fruit, enabling the Germans to catch up with Lexus.) Additionally, the new 3 Series features increased passenger room and enhanced safety features.
Step inside the cabin of the 2006 BMW 3 Series, you’ll find the interior has an instinctive feel to it; every switch and readout is ergonomically placed for a reason, where you will look for it. The surrounding materials are made from high quality wood, leather and plastics enhancing the appeal of this sports machine. The seats offer ample support to the lower back and thigh while enhancing the body’s disposition for spirited driving. And the intuitively placed center display rewards the enthusiast spirit by enabling the driver to easily read every dial and be in touch with the engine.
Turn the key and put the car in gear, you’ll find the car engineered to move. The smooth delivery of speed is exhilarating. The engine pulls like a conditioned sprinter all the way up to its 6800 redline. The real joy is experiencing the sound of the engine. The loud, visceral scream is clean and mechanical, distinct from any muffler or aftermarket accessory. Additionally, the optional Active Steering(TM) reduces steering inputs at high speed and increases inputs at low speeds, enhancing the overall tactile responsiveness of the car. The 2006 BMW 3 Series features the first magnesium block engine to reduce engine weight. The new inline six-cylinder produces 215 horsepower in the 325; and 255 horsepower in the 330i. Linear velocity is smooth due to BMW’s revolutionary Valvetronic(TM) system that helps the engine breathe more efficiently even at low RPMs. To experience more fully, simply find an open road and press the accelerator.
In terms of handling and cornering, the 2006 BMW 3 Series also features a perfect 50:50 front to rear weight distribution, making it extremely responsive in turns and at the limits. The rear wheels provide the thrust while the front steers the vehicle with exceptional feedback. The new suspension with double-joint aluminum control arms in front and a five-link fully independent system in the rear is borrowed from the larger 5 Series. Additionally, the new 3 Series also features BMW’s most sophisticated Dynamic Stability Control(TM) with more sensors to monitor and enhance the ride.
For those of you who prefer the stick shift, the 2006 BMW 3 Series transmission and gears have also been refined; a six speed manual, an optional six speed automatic, or the six speed electro-hydraulic Sequential Manual Gearbox(TM) (SMG) are three very promising choices. The SMG is a manual with no clutch pedal, a welcome relief for the enthusiast drivers who prefers sporty shifting but dislikes using the clutch in toe-to toe traffic.
Additionally, the 2006 3 Series builds on BMW’s lineage on passive and active safety by adding advanced, intelligent safety systems. The passive safety begins with BMW’s rigid “safety cage” that surrounds the occupant with deformable energy absorbing tubes. In case of an extreme crash, impact energy is absorbed and routed around the passenger cabin. Sensors throughout the car measure crash severity and deploy airbags as needed. Six airbags are on hand to shield occupants from harm, two in front and the rest as part of the side curtain that protects from the A-pillar in front to the C-pillar at rear. All BMW 3s are also equipped with Dynamic Brake Control(TM) which is designed to help you stop more quickly during emergency braking. Brake sensors determine how forcefully you step on the brake pedal and apply maximum braking power to stop the car if needed.
As BMW’s most successful model, the 3 Series was first introduced in 1977, and now accounts for 40 percent of all sales worldwide. Gradually, the car has formed a loyal following. To meet enthusiast driver’s individualistic needs, the 2006 3 Series is available in nine iterations: 325i sedan, 325xi sedan, 325Ci coupe, 325Ci convertible, 325xi sports wagon, 330i sedan, 330xi sedan, 330Ci coupe and the 330Ci convertible, with MSRP ranging from $30,900 to $44,900. Although not available as a Hybrid yet, the 2006 BMW 3 Series averages 20 mpg city, 30 mpg highway to successfully reinvent a top automotive performer.