BMW has introduced an xDrive (4wd) 3 Series, for the first time ever in the UK – and a new 320i hybrid.

The xDrive is available initially on the 320i and is powered by the 184 PS 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine. It costs £27,400 for the SE model. With the six-speed manual gearbox the 320i xDrive accelerates from zero to 62mph in 7.4 seconds and has pretty respectable fuel consumption and CO2 figures of 41.5mpg and 159g/km. The optional eight-speed automatic transmission improves economy and emissions to 43.5mpg and 152g/km while adding only a tenth of a second to the zero to 62mph time.

The ActiveHybrid 3 is the first compact executive car to offer a hybrid powertrain. Powered by the 3.0-litre six-cylinder engine in tandem with a 55hp electric motor, it develops a combined 340 PS and 450 Nm of torque. 0-62mph takes 5.3 seconds and it has an electronically limited top speed of 155 mph.

At speeds of up to 37mph it can travel up to 2.4 miles solely on electric power supplied by its lithium-ion battery (a big step forward from the nickel metal-hydride batteries of most hybrid models up to now). It has a combined fuel consumption of 47.9mpg and CO2 emissions of 139g/km, so attracts only an 18 per cent benefit-in-kind company car taxation rate. However, all that technology does not come cheap: The BMW ActiveHybrid 3 is priced from £40,225 and is available in SE, Modern, Luxury and M Sport specification.