2012 BMW 3-series prototype - Click above for high-res image gallery

This morning we get our first "clear" look at the next generation BMW 3 Series as one of our intrepid spy photographers captured one sitting on a trailer somewhere in Germany. The newest version of BMW's mainstream model is expected to debut sometime in 2011 as 2012 model. Judging from these shots, it does not appear that the size of the new 3 will change much, although we can expect BMW to implement some weight reduction measures in order to help meet new fuel efficiency and emissions standards. The overall proportions look pretty similar to today's car, but the profile shot indicates a more upright grille stance similar to the new Z4 and 5 Series GT.

The next 3 is also expected to adopt some new powertrains including a new turbocharged and direct-injected three-cylinder engine. When the new 3 arrives here in the U.S., it will likely also mark the return of four-cylinder engines to the brand's U.S. lineup, to which we say, bring on the fuel savings. Thanks to Annie and Andrus for the tips!

[Photos: CarPix]

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