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BMW offers low-price version of the 3 series


BMW offers low-price version of the 3 series

BMW of North America lowered the entry-level price of the 3-series sedan by $4,300 with the introduction of the 320i on Monday.

The four-cylinder 320i puts out 180 hp, 60 hp fewer than the 328i -- currently the lowest-priced 3 series offered in the United States. Both cars have a 2.0-liter four-cylinder twin-turbo engine. The 320i will start at $33,445, including shipping, when it goes on sale this spring.

The 328i begins at $37,745 for the sedan, $39,595 for the coupe, and $48,495 for the convertible. Prices include shipping.

"We wanted a clear offer to attract younger people to enter the brand," said Ludwig Willisch, CEO of BMW of North America.

Mercedes-Benz USA executives quipped that the new 3 series was a response to the front-wheel-drive CLA compact that was unveiled Sunday evening and goes on sale in September. At 182.3 inches, the CLA is longer than the C-class sedan. The rear-wheel-drive 3-series sedan is 182.5 inches long.

"They have nothing that can compete with us at the CLA price point," said a Mercedes-Benz insider. "That's why they are bringing in the 320i."

Willisch said the 320i will not be available with all of the equipment packages offered on the more powerful 3-series models, but says it is not a stripped model.

The 320i is sold in Canada and in Europe, where BMW offers the even less powerful 318i and 316i variants. BMW also plans to bring an all-wheel-drive 320i to the United States but no launch date was disclosed.

Willisch said even with the renaming of the 3-series coupe as the 4 series this fall, BMW expects 3-series sales to exceed 100,000 units this year. Last year, BMW sold 99,602 3-series units. A new-generation 3-series station wagon goes on sale this spring.

BMW's new generation of fwd cars will go on sale in the United States in 2014, said Willisch. In the summer of 2014, Mercedes-Benz will add a second fwd model, a compact crossover that likely will be called the GLA, followed by a B-class electric plug-in sedan in early 2015.

BMW's Z4 roadster also received a mild freshening that was revealed in Detroit. The changes include a new retractable hard top and two color options of red and silver.

The roadster has new exterior features, detailed inferior refinements, a new equipment package, a new entry-level engine variant and a new design pure traction option.

The car features 17-inch and 18-inch alloy wheels and an optional M sport package. There is also a new model variant, the Z4 sDrive18i powered by a 2-liter engine with turbo. The Z4 also has expanded driver assistance systems and BMW ConnectedDrive mobility services available.

"All can be customized yet one feature is standard: Sheer driving pleasure," BMW management board member Herbert Deiss said.

BMW also introduced the next-generation 4-series coupe and convertible - models that replace the 3 series coupe and convertible.

The 3-series line -- sedan, coupe, convertible and wagon -- makes up almost half of all BMW vehicles sold in the United States.

The 4-series coupe is expected to go on sale this fall, followed by the 4-series convertible in early 2014, Willisch said.

Read more: autonews.com


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