Last month a bootleg copy of a promotional brochure of the unreleased next generation BMW 3 Series (E90) was circulated on the internet by an unknown source. GCF was quick to publish within 1 hour of receiving this material. In the following weeks GCF received much attention and credit for breaking the story although we did not. Waves have been created throughout the automotive industry as to the origins of the material as well as the media sensationalizing the event with possible conspiracy theories. One of the theories claims BMW had intentionally leaked the material themselves in an effort to steal some of the thunder away from the upcoming Audi A4 facelift which is scheduled to debut at the Paris Motor Show in a few weeks. It remains to be seen if this theory proves true but it's hardly likely. Moreover, a re-coil effect is probably the result with both Audi A4 (facelift) and BMW 3 Series (E90) sharing mutual publicity. Another side effect is the publicity frenzy that has been created as a result of the mysterious nature of the incident. A spokes person at BMW rebutted that this premature leak can have adverse affects on existing E46 3 Series sales in addition to their launch strategy needing to be re-evaluated. An "Automotive News Europe" analyst believes the premature release of the brochure and the negative impact on current inventories is negligible for which BMW could have anticipated before hand. With a "teaser" product release coming in a few months anyway the BMW statement does not hold water. At this point the story has been churned and burned into many variations. We will probably never find out the true story but we can move forward and see what the big fuss is all about. Let us turn our attention to the Audi A4 facelift. Contributing Artist, Hussein Al-Attar has put together an impression which suggests the emergence of familiar design elements recently introduced to the current lineup. The most noticeable being the enlarged front grille which extends down into the bumper. This enormous grille reminiscent of the Auto Union Grand Prix cars of the 1930's can be seen on the new A3 Sportback, A6 and A8 W12 models. Also incorporating design cues from a recent Audi study, this A4 facelift inherits from the Nuvolari quattro concept restyled tailamps which now integrate into new deck lid reflectors. The headlamp lens shape is also passed down from the Nuvolari concept. Over the next year as the A4 gets closer to the end of its lifecycle we can expect an RS4 ultra performance version to be unveiled hopefully at Frankfurt 2005.

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