Now in its fifth generation, and about 30 years old, the recently launched 3 Series is BMW's bread and butter. Last year, sales of the popular premium compact saloon accounted for more than a third of the German carmaker's global sales. The new 3 Series is more restrained in style than the 5 Series or 7 Series, and the model retains its original identity, despite a curvier front. Perhaps because so much rides on it, chief designer Chris Bangle was given limited licence for expression in the reworking of the 3 Series body (the controversial design revolution at BMW has yet to find universal acceptance among critics and enthusiasts). Under the hood, the new 3 Series saloon houses a 3-litre in-line six-cylinder engine, rated at 258bhp, about 30 horses more than its predecessor, which helps it make the 0-100km/h sprint in a sparkling 6.3 seconds. The new 3 Series is marginally more fuel-efficient, thanks to lightweight components and BMW's Valvetronic technology. The new 3 Series will be launched in stages, with saloons available now, coupes arriving next year and the sporty M3 still three years off. The 330i saloon now available is priced at $499,000.