A new straight-six engine is just the tip of the iceberg for the 2016 BMW 3 Series

BMW has announced that the compact 3 Series is getting a handful of significant updates for the 2016 model year.

One of the most important modifications is the addition of a brand new turbocharged all-aluminum 3.0-liter straight-six engine called B58 internally. The six-cylinder produces 320 horsepower between 5,500 and 6,500 rpm and 330 foot-pounds of torque starting at just 1,380 rpm.

Called 340i, the new range-topping 3er comes standard with an eight-speed Steptronic automatic transmission, but an enthusiast-friendly six-speed manual gearbox with a rev-matching function is available as a no-cost option. The automatic 340i sprints from zero to 60 mph in 4.8 seconds when it is ordered with rear-wheel drive, and it performs the same task in 4.6 seconds when purchased with BMW’s optional xDrive all-wheel drive system.

Confirming a long-standing rumor, BMW has announced plans to launch the first-ever plug-in hybrid 3 Series next year. Called 330e, the sedan will be powered by a fuel-sipping hybrid drivetrain made up of a small turbocharged four-cylinder gasoline-burning engine and a compact electric motor built into a model-specific eight-speed automatic transmission. Together, the two power sources will generate about 250 horsepower and 310 foot-pounds of torque, enough to send the gas-electric 3 from zero to 60 mph in 6.1 seconds. Alternatively, the motor will be able to power the 3 by itself for up to 22 miles.

The 3 Series Sports Wagon benefits from a revised suspension setup, an updated Dynamic Stability Control system and a redesigned electric power steering system. BMW promises the updates noticeably improve the wagon’s handling and feedback under all load conditions.

Buyers planning on taking their 3 to the track can order the Track Handling Package. Not available on the diesel-burning 328d, the package bundles BMW’s Variable Sport Steering system, an Adaptive M suspension, M Sport brakes with blue calipers and high-temperature Euro brake pads as well as 18-inch alloys wrapped in Michelin Super Sport Tires.

The 3 Series alone accounts for 25 percent of BMW’s global sales so the Munich-based automaker is very careful when it updates it. Accordingly, the visual modifications for 2016 are discreet and largely limited to new bumpers on both ends, new exhaust tips, new halogen headlights, and full LED tail lamps. Most models can be ordered with an Adaptive Full LED Headlights with Automatic High-beam System, a first in the nameplate’s history, while the expected assortment of new alloy wheel designs and paint colors round out the updates.

The interior is spruced up with high-gloss black trim on the center console, new ambient lighting, cup-holder covers and chrome accents all around. An additional storage bin located next to the cup holders allows the passengers to store small items.

The 2016 BMW 3 Series will go on sale across the nation in the next few weeks, while the plug-in hybrid 330e is not expected to land in showrooms for another year or so.

Product Review

If you don't know about Genesis yet, the G70 is going to change that

The 2019 Genesis G70 is Korea’s first attempt to take on the vaunted German trio of BMW 3 Series, Audi A4, and Mercedes-Benz C-Class. Competition doesn’t come much tougher than that.
Cars

Big tech, bigger grille: BMW updates its 7 Series flagship for 2020

The BMW 7 Series will enter the 2020 model year with a host of updates inside, outside, and under the sheet metal. The new-look nose with a jumbo grille hides updated engines, while passengers benefit from smart tech features.
Cars

Move mountains with the 2019 Ram Heavy Duty and its 1,000 pound-feet of torque

Unveiled at the 2019 Detroit Auto Show, the 2019 Ram Heavy Duty pickup truck boasts 1,000 pound-feet of torque -- outgunning rival trucks from Ford and Chevrolet. The new Ram goes on sale later this year.
Computing

Intel vs. AMD: Which chipmaker stole the show at CES 2019?

Intel and AMD have been competing for years, but rarely do they both debut something exciting at the same time. Intel vs. AMD at CES 2019 saw both companies step up to the plate. Who served it better?
Cars

Lexus LC convertible concept teases a new open-air flagship

Debuting at the 2019 Detroit Auto Show, the Lexus LC convertible concept adds open-air motoring to the sleek LC's resume. But Lexus won't commit to a production version of the car just yet.
Cars

Fast and Furious fans get revved up: Toyota’s Supra sports car is back

The 2020 Toyota Supra made its long-awaited debut at the 2019 Detroit Auto Show. The resurrected sports car, famous for a role in The Fast and the Furious, goes on sale in the U.S. this summer.
Cars

Muscle cars, trucks, and EVs roared into the subdued 2019 Detroit Auto Show

The 2019 Detroit Auto Show was the quietest edition of the event in recent memory, but that doesn't mean nothing significant happened inside the Cobo Center. Here are the new cars and concepts we saw at the show.
Emerging Tech

Ford’s sweaty robot bottom can simulate 10 years of seat use in mere days

Ford has developed 'Robutt,' a sweaty robot bottom that's designed to simulate the effects of having a pair of human buttocks sitting on its car seats for thousands of hours. Check it out.
Cars

In McLaren’s 600LT Spider, the engine is the only sound system you’ll need

The McLaren 600LT Spider is the inevitable convertible version of the 600LT coupe, itself a lighter, more powerful version of the McLaren 570S. The 600LT Spider boasts a 592-horsepower, twin-turbo V8, and a loud exhaust system to hear it…
Cars

Robomart’s self-driving grocery store is like Amazon Go on wheels

Robomart's driverless vehicle is like an Amazon Go store on wheels, with sensors tracking what you grab from the shelves. If you don't want to shop online or visit the grocery store yourself, Robomart will bring the store to you.
News

Ford has a plan to future-proof the hot-selling F-150 pickup truck

Worried about the threat of rising gas prices, Ford will add the F-150 to its growing portfolio of electrified vehicles. It is currently developing a hybrid F-150, and it will release an electric version of the next-generation truck.
Cars

Ford’s Mustang-inspired electric crossover will spawn a Lincoln luxury version

Lincoln will get its own version of parent Ford's first mass-market, long-range electric vehicle. While Ford's version will have styling inspired by the Mustang, Lincoln will take a more traditional approach.
Home Theater

Spotify adds simplified Car View mode for Android users

What was once just a test is now a reality: Spotify is rolling out a new, simplified in-car user interface for all Android users called Car View, which automatically engages when the app detects a car Bluetooth connection.
Cars

Boutique carmaker Karma Automotive, legendary design firm Pininfarina team up

Karma Automotive is partnering with legendary Italian design firm Pininfarina on future luxury cars. The first product of that partnership will appear later this year, Karma said, without offering other details.