BMW unveils new 3 Series BMW revealed pictures of its new 3 Series on Monday. Due for a September launch in Europe, the compact is the marque's most popular car in Hong Kong and will be unveiled here 'by the end of the year', says BMW Concessionaires (HK) spokesman Eric Leung. The revised 3 Series (above) is offered with five petrol and five diesel derivatives, the highlights of which are the marque's new 245 brake horsepower diesel 330d engine and the three-litre, twin-turbocharged unit that won the International Engine of the Year for 2007 and 2008. The saloon and touring estate versions seem more attractive with a revamped kidney grille, and more muscular with two raised lines on the bonnet. The apron, rear valance and boot lid have all been styled, and we think for the better. The headlights feature twin corona sidelights as standard and the rear light cluster is now uniform red with LED technology, BMW says. The marque has also increased the size of the car's wing mirrors, a bonus for local drivers, and its track is 24mm wider, the marque says, to improve its drive. We also learn that BMW has made the 3 Series' iDrive easier to handle, with a new on-screen layout with scroll-across display, 'back' button and shortcut keys that are supposed to improve navigation. ''Favourites' buttons below the iDrive screen adds another element of practicality, allowing you to call up favourite destinations, music sources and phone book entries,' the marque says. 'Other interior changes for the 3 Series include improved ergonomics, such as the positioning of switchgear, and more luxurious materials.' And like the new 7 Series, the compact can store 'in excess of 100 albums' thanks to 8GB of data storage. The 3 Series boasts six airbags, front and rear Isofix child seat mounts, front airbag deactivation, advanced stability control systems and active head restraints as standard for the first time. 'In the event of a rear-end collision, the front section of the head restraint moves forward 60mm and up 40mm to reduce the distance between head rest and the occupants' heads, thus reducing the risk of spinal injury, BMW says.' C for customers Mercedes-Benz Hong Kong and its dealer, Zung Fu, plan to hold two more free workshops for C-Class owners following the success of its Driving at its Best course at the marque's training centre. We're not surprised. We rated the C280 as one of our best drives of 2007 and hear that more than 1,230 C-Class saloons and estates have been sold in Hong Kong since last year's launch. The two-part course offered hands-on techniques and maintenance tips that helped owners customise their C-Classes to their needs, says the marque's spokesman, Henry Lau. 'The first part was a knowledge and experience sharing session conducted by certified experts,' he says. They 'showed the participants how to operate some of the special features of the C-Class vehicle, for example from interpreting dashboard signals, personalising settings and utilising the Bluetooth interface. There was also a question and answer session in which participants could interact with the experts directly.' The workshop (above) provided participants with details of Mercedes-Benz's after-sales service, and 'also enhanced their day-to-day maintenance skills and driving knowledge', Lau says, adding that the workshop was 'well-received'. Bravo Mercedes-Benz Hong Kong. The electronics in modern cars can be hard to program, even for gadget-savvy Hongkongers, and questions can crop up between the lines of the manual after the dealer's delivery briefing. We'll alert you to the next Mercedes-Benz workshops when the marque gives us the dates. We also wish more dealers would organise more face-to-face after-service support. Are there knobs and buttons you still don't understand in your new car? Tell us on email@example.com . Maybe we can get your dealer to help you. Preview of Lotus' Eagle Finally, Lotus sends us a picture of 'Project Eagle' (below), which will be launched at the British Motor show in London on Tuesday. It's the first all-new car from Lotus since the Elise in 1995 and will enter the sports car market as the only mid-engine 2+2 in production, the marque says. Powered by a 380-horsepower, 3.5-litre V6, the new car is 'considerably faster around the Nurburgring than the Elise and more stable at speed than the Exige', the marque says. The interior is in fine leather and the dashboard 'boasts tactile details such as flush-mounted controls that glow with blue LED halos and a stylised speedometer and rev counter, ensuring that controls are attractive and accessible', Lotus says.