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BMW is cashing in on the chauffeur craze in China by offering a stretched version of the 3-Series exclusively to Chinese customers.
The longer wheelbase sedan will be sold as a 335Li, and will offer more legroom to Chinese consumers who want to be driven around but can’t afford a legitimate chauffeur car like Bentley or Rolls-Royce.
It might sound ridiculous that the mild-mannered 3-Series would merit a hired driver, but Audi has actually been advancing Chinese sales by offering the A6L and A4L sedans with “L” signifying the longer version.
The 335Li fits between the two Audi cars in terms of rear-seat legroom according to China Car Times. Chinese customers will be able to buy the car later this year, though it won’t be offered anywhere else in the world. That would have meant a lot of extra work on BMW’s part until recently. The German automaker will manufacture their Chinese 3-Series cars in partnership with Brilliance, a company they have worked with on several projects in the past.
[Source: China Car Times]
The Chinese auto market has a strange fascination with stretched versions of compact and mid-size sedans, the the stretched BMW 5-Series (pictured), the Audi A4L and the stretched Mercedes-Benz E-Class to name a few.
BMW wants a bigger piece of the action and is teaming of with Chinese automaker Brilliance (yes, that Brilliance) to build the long-wheelbase 3-Series as well as a new factory in the Chinese region of Shenyeng. The factory should have an ultimate capacity of 300,000 units, with 60 percent of the parts sourced within China. Capacity should be enough that BMW will be able to export cars from the plant, although it’s not likely that we’ll ever see a stretched 3-Series on our shores. Expect identical powertrain options in the stretched car, and a slightly higher price tag.