Two six-cylinder trims were also available in Europe.
Outside, changes were evolutionary rather than revolutionary.
Under its skin, the 3 Series featured a new suspension with Mac Pherson struts in the front, rack-and-pinion steering, and front disc brakes.
Inside, BMW angled the center console toward the driver, creating an interior theme that would exist for decades.
However, due to a retuned suspension and a tighter frame, handling improved dramatically, according to some reviewers.
Power for the third generation came from a wide range of engines, including a new 189-hp, 2.5-liter six-cylinder for the 325i.The dual-kidney grille with round headlights remained, although its slant was less dramatic, and the overall lines were more aerodynamic.The wheelbase grew only minimally, to 101.2 inches, while overall length decreased slightly.Now in its fifth generation, the 3 Series comes in a wide range of trims and body styles, including a new, sportier version of the 335i coupe and convertible, which joined the lineup for 2011.Beyond that, prospective buyers can choose from a total of 15 trims, at 328i, 335i, and 335is trim levels, in sedan, coupe, two-door convertible, and four-door wagon body styles, with rear-wheel or all-wheel drive.
Internally known as the E21, the new 3 Series sat on a 100.9-inch wheelbase, with an overall length of 171.5 inches, making it slightly longer than the 2002 model it replaced. The 320i came equipped with a 110-hp, 2.0-liter fuel-injected four-cylinder powerplant paired with a four-speed Getrag manual transmission or an optional three-speed automatic.