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Take An Early Look At The Next-Gen BMW 3 Series

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The next iteration of the benchmark sports sedan promises to be better in every way.

BMW has been hard at work preparing to bring the next-generation 3 Series to market. And these latest photos of the thinly camouflaged prototype and initial details released today paint the clearest picture yet of the improvements that the Bavarian automaker has been developing for its benchmark sports sedan.

Ever focused on chassis dynamics, BMW tests all its vehicles in the punishingly varying conditions of the Nordschleife. And that applies to the next 3 Series at least as much as any other vehicle it makes, boasting perfect 50:50 weight distribution front to rear.

The new 3 also weighs as much as 55 kilograms (121 pounds) less than the model it will soon replace. The track is wider, too, and BMW has for the first time fitted a new type of rebound dampers to keep everything under control.

"We're using the lift-related dampers as an active set-up element so as to create supreme driving properties in all conditions," explained BMW's driving dynamics guru Peter Langen. "With short spring travel, a sensitive damping response ensures comfortable vibration compensation. When the car passes over large bumps, the body movements are controlled by increased damping forces."

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Under the hood, we're told that we'll find (among other options) a throughly revised four-cylinder engine that's both BMW's most potent yet and five percent more fuel-efficient – thanks in no small part to the eight-speed automatic transmission to which it's mated.

There'll be many M-specific components as well, including an optimized sports suspension that will come exclusively with a speed-adaptive steering system. The electronically controlled rear differential is being thoroughly reworked as well, all of which adds up to a new sedan that promises to be better than the existing one in every way.