The newcomer is far from a mini 5-series, boasting harder lines and a more aggressive stance with overtones reminiscent of the Z3 - especially from the front. Its proportions are slightly larger than the current car to provide more interior accommodation and BMW says it will feature state-of-the-art systems and technology more usually associated with much larger executive cars, while retaining the driver appeal of a compact sports saloon.
Engines will range from the 118bhp 1.6 to the 193bhp 2.8 and include diesels. The existing 3-series Coupe, Convertible, Touring and Compact models continue unchanged. Sky high desirability and strong residual values have made the 3-series almost as cheap to operate as a Mondeo or Vectra - a statistic borne out by large fleet deals such as a 1,000-car contract with Pearl Assurance earlier this year.