About 2,000 318 saloons and 1,000 318iS saloons - powered by the 1.9-litre 16-valve engine - will be imported from the South African factory, which has been building right-hand-drive BMW's for the domestic market and, more recently, the Australian markets since 1970. Volkswagen was forced to take similar action ahead of the new Golf's launch later this year, by making South African-built Mk 3 models available in response to burgeoning demand from the UK.
The all-new 3-series is due to arrive in the UK in September. A BMW spokesman said the measures were designed to avoid the supply situation which beset the new 5-series last year, when pent-up demand led to waiting lists of more than a year. Demand for the new 3-series is still expected to be high and customers will almost certainly face waiting lists of several months when BMW dealers open the order books.