Like its 1 Series counterpart, the 316i is pulled along by a 1.6-litre turbopetrol engine.

Back in the '80s and '90s, BMW South Africa offered a 316i for those that wanted a 3 Series, but couldn't quite afford to have it with a powerful engine, or much in the way of specification.

The 3 has taken some big leaps up stream since then and, while few will argue that the latest 3 Series is a great car, its starting price of R363 052 for the 135kW 320i puts it at the upper end of the segment and out of reach for many.

Now BMW has announced a 316i model in Germany and it'll be coming to South Africa during the second quarter of 2013.

Of course, it's still going to be a significantly more upmarket proposition than the E30 and E36 316i models of yore, but it will at least bring the entry price down, if only slightly. As with Audi's 88kW A4 1.8T, we also expect that the new 316i will be largely aimed at the rental market.

Just like the latest 116i, the 316i is powered by a 1.6-litre four-cylinder turbopetrol engine that pushes 100kW and 220Nm through either a six-speed manual or eight-speed automatic gearbox.

According to BMW's drag racing experts, this 3 Series can run from 0-100km/h in 8.9 seconds in manual form and 9.2 secs in the case of the auto, with both achieving a top speed of 210km/h. By comparison, the 320i models take 7.3 and 7.6 seconds from 0-100 and top out at 235km/h.

Claimed EU combined cycle fuel consumption for the 316i models amounts to between 5.8 and 5.9 litres per 100km/h, with CO2 emission figures of 134 to 137g/km, just above SA's tax threshold.

In other news, BMW has announced a new and improved navigation system Professional for the 3 Series sedan range. Available locally from December 2012 production, the system is faster and offers 3D graphics.

Pricing and interior specification details for the 316i will be announced closer to its launch date next year.

Question is, would you consider a 316i or is it just rental fodder?