Introduced for the 2012 model year, the sixth-generation BMW 3 Series (F30) and its high-performance, M3 sibling are still turning heads. However, that didn’t stop the Germans from working on a mid-cycle refresh starting early 2014. With the first prototypes seen testing on public roads as early as August 2014, it seems the facelifted 2016 BMW 3 Series is inching closer to its production form as the year draws to an end. That’s the word coming from our trusty spy photographers, who just sent a batch of brand-new shots of the sedan our way. And there are plenty of new exterior details to gaze at.

Before we take a closer look at the new 3 Series, we’d like to remind you the sedan is being readied for a 2015 launch. We expect it to break cover at the 2015 Geneva Motor Show in March, alongside the Touring (station wagon) model, with the first units to roll off the assembly line in July. U.S. dealerships should get both models in the third quarter of 2015.

Click past the jump to read more about the revised BMW 3 Series.

2016 BMW 3 Series Spy Shots

Spy Shots: Facelift BMW 3 Series Sedan Goes Out for a Spin Spyshots
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Spy Shots: Facelift BMW 3 Series Sedan Goes Out for a Spin Spyshots
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Spy Shots: Facelift BMW 3 Series Sedan Goes Out for a Spin Spyshots
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As expected, the updated 3 Series Sedan doesn’t boast massive visual enhancements. As with all facelifts introduced throughout 2014, the compact received a reshaped kidney grille and slightly revised headlamps. Speaking of headlamps, the test vehicle is fitted with adaptive LED units, which suggests the feature will be offered on the 3 Series starting 2015 as well. Previously, adaptive LED headlights were only an option on the 4 Series.

Down below, there’s a restyled bumper, with a splitter-like piece at the bottom of the apron. Although the bumper is still camouflaged, we expect the new 3 Series to be tad more aggressive and feature bigger air intakes. A revised rear bumper and a new pattern for the taillights are also on the table, but we’ll have to wait a bit longer to capture them without black-and-white camo in the way.

There’s even bigger news under the hood, with the 3 Series set to receive a few members of BMW’s B family of engines. These changes are particularly important for the U.S., with the 328i and the 335i models are set to be replaced by the 330i and the 340i. The former will get a four-banger making around 270 horsepower, a 30-pony improvement over the current model, while the latter’s brand-new six-banger should crank out about 330 ponies, also a 30-horsepower upgrade. Lastly, the entry-level 320i model is set to receive the B48 engine from the Mini Cooper S. This means the base version will now generate 192 horses compared to only 180.

Why it matters

While the visual facelift itself is far from spectacular, the 2016 3 Series brings massive updates in the drivetrain department. All brand-new units boast significant improvements in terms of horsepower, and we also expect them to use less fuel and emit less carbon dioxide. Additionally, the revised 3 Series is also the first of its kind to receive a hybrid powertrain. All told, the facelift marks the beginning of a new era for BMW’s iconic sedan.

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