German automaker BMW has further enriched its fleet of 3 Series models with the pre-launch of the 316 Li at Chengdu auto show.
The model boasts a 1.6-liter turbocharged engine, an 8-speed automatic transmission and has oil consumption of 6.4 liters per 100 km, according to the automaker.
BMW said the oil meter can be lowered further to 6.2 liters per 100 km when the model is equipped with a 6-speed manual transmission. This makes it one of the most energy-efficient premium models.
The sedan's long wheelbase - 2,920 mm - ensures more legroom for passengers in the backseat.
Although it is an entry-level car, the 316 Li is equipped with BMW's latest technology including the multifunctional steering wheel and heated front seats. It also boasts the automaker's second-generation flat-free tires as well as the iDrive information system.
The latest model brought the number of BMW's 3 Series to 19, far outnumbering other automakers' vehicles in the segment.
More than 14 million 3 Series have been sold worldwide since the first model made its debut in 1975. The company said the sales record made it the most successful premium car.
The 3 Series has won awards around the world including the title of most popular medium-sized car in 2012 from German magazine Auto Zeitung. It also took home the accolade of China's best medium-sized car in a competition organized by Auto Motor Und Sport magazine in 2013.
Statistics showed BMW delivered more than 57,000 3 Series to Chinese customers in the first seven months of this year, a 44.5 percent surge from the same period last year. One reason for its popularity is sportiness, Peter van Binsbergen, senior vice-president of sales and marketing at BMW Brilliance Automotive Ltd, told China Daily.
The car has a 50:50 weight distribution, a winning combination of the Twinpower Turbo engine and 8-speed gearbox, state-of-the-art chassis technology and sporty design, said Binsbergen.
Mission 3 is a seven-year-old event that has become one of the most influential customer experience campaigns in the country. The company believes it has been a key contributory factor to the success of the 3 Series in China.
"It is not only about driving. It is about a challenging and winning spirit, which characterizes the values and lifestyles of our customers," said Binsbergen.
He said successful brands turn customers into fans and advocates and he believes Mission 3 can fulfil this mission.
Since the event was initiated in 2008, more than 300,000 people have registered to participate.
"The dynamism of driving pleasure is hard to describe but easy to feel. So, we came up with the idea to bring our 3 Series back to where it belongs - the racetrack," Binsbergen said.
The 3 Series has won several significant races including the Nurburgring 24-hour race, the World Touring Car Championship and the European Touring Car Championship.
"These race cars find their DNA in our road cars which we sell to customers every day," Binsbergen said.
He said that the event gives customers and fans of the BMW 3 Series the perfect opportunity to experience the driving dynamics, luxury, comfort and lifestyle the car represents.
"People who come to experience it talk about it with friends. And this is important because we know in China that word-of-mouth is probably one of most significant ways to influence people's decisions," he said.
In addition to Mission 3, BMW Brilliance has launched a wide range of other activities to bring the brand closer to the Chinese market.
The automaker has also made efforts to improve its models to offer a better driving experience.
From this year, locally made 3 Series and 5 Series sedans have been equipped with the intelligent all-wheel drive technology xDrive to improve safety in all weather and road conditions, which is particularly useful for customers in western regions.
"We attach great importance to the region and are confident in its development in the future. That is why we chose Chengdu to pre-launch the 316 Li," said a senior manager at the company.
BMW also showcased its i3 - the automaker's first mass-produced electric model - at the Chengdu auto show.
The company said both the i3 and i8 would be available in China from September.
BMW is also expanding its service network in western China. So far it has 82 authorized dealerships and service outlets in the region.
The company has also established four training bases that guarantee the dealerships' service quality.