They are so subtle, these Germans.

The much-leaked sneak pictures of the Life Cycle Impulse (LCI) to the E92/E93 3-series coupe and convertible suggested very minor cosmetic changes. The official pictures have now been released and the changes are rather…..erm, well, subtle in reality. In fact, it would take a highly trained BMW-geek on full alert to spot most of them. So get training then before the March 2010 UK launch, OK?

Mechanical changes are more significant, but still not likely to cause a huge rush to the BMW showroom and a mass waving of cheque-books.

Mechanical changes are – in the main – all about that CO2 Monster thing, such is the obsessive focus of most European manufacturers these days. Reading the press release material the frequency with which CO2 is mentioned is notable, along with EfficientDynamics. Of course.

There are some interesting highlights, some of which might prove quite controversial with the more performance oriented amongst us.

At one extreme, the 335i, hitherto so effective with its twin-turbo in-line six has – shock – gone to a single turbo, Valvetronic and High Precision Direct injection equipped specification. So bar-room bragging rights might take a hit there. But, wait for it, the power and torque peaks remain the same as the old engine’s (no indication yet of whether these have moved up or down the rev range) and the fuel consumption drops by 8% (to 33.6mpg) with CO2 by more than 10%, so sneaking the Coupe into the UK’s VED Band J at 196g/km. We will wait to see whether the Valvetronic technology, which loses the conventional throttle butterfly, will have any impact on the 335i’s previously highly responsive nature.

New lights, new engines and a new price – but is it just more of the same?

The 335d Coupe also claims an improved fuel consumption figure – though by only 0.6mpg, so pay attention or you just might not notice – and dives into a lower VED Band H, one less than its previous rating.

And at the other extreme of the range the 320d EfficientDynamics saloon, turns in numbers that do seem scarcely credible, hitting 62 in 8.0 seconds whilst achieving a top speed of 142mph and emitting CO2 at just 109g/km. It is claimed to be the most efficient and cleanest BMW ever, and might well retain that title indefinitely if you consider conventional internal combustion engines, without going to hybrid technology. It is – according to BMW – the first premium car ever to achieve less than 110g/km CO2 emissions, which means that it will attract the Band B VED of just £35. For the moment, anyway. Gordon (save-the-world) Brown will love you for it. Alastair (give-me-the-money) Darling will not…

Returning to the important stuff (the cosmetics, of course…) both Coupe and Convertible get new front and rear lights, minor revisions to the kidney grille, new front air dam and rear valence and alterations to the side rocker panels. The expected LED treatment arrives at the rear, with subtle changes to the lightbar tail lights, and LED indicators. The LED technology continues at the front with brighter white coronas for the side/running lights and for the indicators. So now BMW drivers can pretend to be Audi drivers. At last…

Even more subtle (yes, I know I keep saying that, but they just are, OK) alterations have been wrought to the front and rear bumpers, resulting in a slight increase in overall length (+29mm at the front and +3mm at the back).

Expect a new standard wheel design, together with new optional 18” alloy style and three new exterior colours: Vermillion Red, Deep Sea Blue and Mineral White (Yes – the market has been demanding another White. Hasn’t it?). Inside, Dakota Leather becomes standard on all Coupes and Convertibles and the new Anthracite Bamboo trim goes for the most unlikely description of 2010.

With M Sport variants accounting for 65% of UK E92/E93 sales changes have not been forgotten here, with a revised front spoiler, a new 19” M Sport wheel and er….the Mineral White. Not a lot there, then.

And, apart from the cosmetics (which from the outside will probably only be the rear lights, as with the E46 LCI of 2003), no changes appear to have been applied to the M3.

Prices for the new BMW 3 Series Coupé start at £27,845 OTR for a 320i SE and £30,200 OTR for a 320d SE. This rises to £52,730 OTR for a BMW M3 Coupé. Entry into the BMW 3 Series Convertible club starts at £32,905 OTR for a 320i SE and £35,115 OTR for a 320d SE rising to £56,740 OTR for an M3 Convertible.

All of the new BMW 3 Series variants go on sale in the UK from 20 March, 2010.

And that’s about it. Apart from the now confirmed rumour that a 335is will be joining the range shortly afterwards, featuring the 335bhp twin turbocharger six from the Z4 35is. But unless you spot the ‘is’ badge, you will probably think it’s just another 335i.

I said they were subtle.