A slicker sticker
Now there’s a 3 Series that costs Japanese money
THE cheapest BMW3 Series this century is in showrooms next month.
Priced from just under $51,000, the 316 i is the latest salvo in the prestige pricing war. Last week Mercedes-Benz announced its new CLA four- door coupe will have a similar sticker price.
The least expensive 3 Series since the ’ 90s also has the smallest capacity engine, running the 1.6-litre turbo petrol four from the smaller 118 i and the Mini Cooper. It’s good for 5.9L/100km through a standard eight-speed automatic and a 0-100km/h stroll time of 9.2 seconds.
BMW says it is visually all but indistinguishable from the rest of the range save for 16-inch alloys and man-made upholstery. The standard kit runs to rear park assistance, Bluetooth and 6.5-inch multimedia screen. There is no satellite navigation, nor will the entrant take M-Sports suspension.
The 2 Series range of compact coupes is not here until next year. However, BMW spokesman Scott Croaker denies the cut-price 3 Series is a holding action against the CLA.
‘‘ It’s a bit early for any immediate reaction or price fight,’’ he says.
‘‘ But what’s happening in the competitive field at this price point is obviously very important and this is a good opportunity to take focus from some of the competition.’’
Prestige cars continue to cost less than ever. Due in time for Christmas, the CLA is the least expensive Mercedes of its type ever sold here. Last month Mercedes released the A-Class hatch at $36,000, or less than a basic Commodore.
The unprecedented plunge into affordability by prestige brands puts pressure on the Japanese and VW— the new Golf is released next month.