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Adding comfort to joy of driving

Old 12-07-2011, 06:13 AM
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Adding comfort to joy of driving

The sixth-generation BMW 3 Series, which will arrive in Canadian showrooms next February as a 2012 model, marks a significant paradigm shift for the Bavarian automaker. In the past, 3 Series cars were all about driving dynamics and stellar straight-six engine. But, with the new model, BMW is adding comfort features as well as high-tech gadgets into the mix.

It is also amending its straight-six dogma in that, while the 335i carries on with the turbocharged 3.0-litre six-cylinder, the 328i borrows the turbocharged 2.0-litre 4-cylinder found in the Z4 roadster and the X1 sport-utility vehicle, with the 320i getting a detuned version of that power plant as well. The new 3 Series also marks a first for BMW, as it will be available in three different trim and equipment variants dubbed Sport Line, Luxury Line and Modern Line.

Until recently, one could count on BMW to focus almost solely on driving performance and count on Lexus to target comfort and convenience features. But, now, each brand is moving into the other's territory. Witness the new Lexus GS, which is a much more capable performer than the previous model, while the new 3 Series can be equipped with an optional automatic hands-off parallel parking system, some-thing Lexus first introduced. When faced with the news that the new 3 Series can park itself, BMW diehards will surely lament as they cue Mur-ray Head's classic song Say It Ain't So, Joe, wondering if the new car is up to the brand's standards for handling or if it has gone all soft.

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