Six generations on and 12.5 million cars later, BMW's 3 Series continues to lead the pack in the hotly contested sport-luxury market. Recent economic, environmental and social trends have forced automakers to take their vehicles in new directions. The all-new 2012 3 Series is BMW's answer to these trends in the sport-sedan segment that they themselves created back in 1975.
The 5th generation that this new 3 Series replaces was a fine car in every respect. It drove well, proved reliable, and wasn't too thirsty at the pumps. In fact - even several years after its initial launch, the "E90" 3 series (internal code name) was still winning comparison tests with the best the competition had to offer. So what could BMW have possibly improved upon to render the all-new 3 Series a better car?
Many things, apparently, as we learned from the 3 Series' global launch in Barcelona, Spain. To start off, BMW has implemented a new vehicle behavior switch that allows the driver to chose between five unique drive modes. The 'game changer' among these modes is called "Eco Pro" mode, and it introduces a slew of features that result in better economy. To start off, the gas pedal becomes stiffer and harder to press - which ultimately results in you pressing it less. A new gauge on the instrument display shows a blue bar that grows longer as you depress the gas pedal. The challenge is to keep the blue bar as short as possible - and if do you so, the car rewards you with 'bonus' miles you've gained from the current tank of gas, shown in blue under the efficiency bar. This may seem rudimentary, but it works - in fact BMW claims up to a 20% improvement in efficiency based on the system's ability to improve driver habits.
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