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2007 BMW 3 Series

by Martha Hindes

BMW 3 Series
BMW 3 Series Interior

On the heels of an award winning predecessor, BMW launches its newly revised 3 Series as we speak, after a failed hush hush attempt to keep its details from hitting American newsstands too soon. No matter. "Bimmer" philes probably have seen the photos and know some details, leaving the uninitiated to wonder about the fuss.

The official Sept. 1, 2006 publication date for the 2007 version's launch is only part of the story. That's when the all-new 328i and 335i coupes for '07 go public. The xDrive all-wheel-drive 328xi coupe waits until October, as do all three sedans and two models of sports wagon. Scorecards please.

What BMW offers is something akin to a designer's wish list packed into BMW's smallest vehicles sold in the U.S. Outside, there's a new, more aggressive design with revised kidney grilles, adaptive Xenon headlamps with corona light rings as standard equipment, and redesigned reverse "L" taillamps. Matte chrome dual exhaust tips anchor the rear corners of the 335i.

Two inline sixes underscore this newly revised entry level lux model, a 3.0-liter, 230-horsepower (328i) and 3.0-liter, twin turbocharged, 300-horsepower (335i). Both up the coupe's power for '07. Six-speed manuals are standard, with available STEPTRONIC automatic with steering wheel paddle shifters. Rear-drive models get a new, standard sport suspension and ride on 17-inch standard wheels, or upgrade to 18s, with standard run-flat tires.

Techy touches include active cruise control, active steering, Bluetooth communications capability and SIRIUS satellite radio with a one year subscription. The nav system includes voice command and a Real Time Traffic Information package with a four-year subscription. Other adds include retractable, covered in-door storage pockets, an automatic safety belt feeder arm, plus more exterior colors, leather and trim options.

Upcoming AWD models will get standard headlight washer jets, and Crimson Red and Montego Blue will replace Electric Red and Mystic Blue for upcoming sedans and wagons.

EPA numbers for the 2006 base sedan (20/30 manual; 21/29 automatic) hint at expected mileage for '07 versions when those numbers are released. And pricing, to come, could be close to '06 models, starting in the low $30,000 range.