First out of the blocks are the 325i and rapaciously quick 335i, with the 330i, 330d and 335d to follow in October. By next March the line-up will be complete with the introduction of the four-cylinder 320i and 320d models. Unsurprisingly, it is the latter that the manufacturer sees as its key corporate seller.
As with its predecessors, the latest generation 3-series coupé is a beautifully designed car. Inside, there’s more room than ever before, making the car a genuinely practical four-seater.
The host of passive and active safety features is also impressive, but of course this car is all about driving pleasure, and both cars tested score top marks.
The £28,000 325i is a quick, precise and thoroughly enjoyable car to drive, with good power and a great sounding engine. However, five minutes behind the wheel of the 335i will have prospective buyers falling over themselves to find the extra £5,000 or so needed to enjoy the huge step up in performance.
Twin turbos and precision direct injection help deliver an amazing combination of performance and economy. BMW managing director Jim O’Donnell says he knows the company has a winner in its hands, and there’s little reason to doubt him.
Engine: 2.5-litre 218bhp, 184lb ft; 3.5-litre 306bhp, 295lb ft
Performance: 2.5: 0-62mph 6.9sec, top speed 153mph. 3.5: 0-62mph 5.5sec, top speed 155mph
Transmission: 6sp manual or auto
Efficiency: 21.9-29.7mpg; 203-228g/km CO2
CAP RV: £14,200-15,725 (51-47%)
Rivals: Mercedes CLK
Strengths: Looks, performance
Weaknesses: Cost of options
Opportunity: BMW is coupé king
Threat: Speed cameras
USP: The ultimate driving machine