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BMW 3-series convertible PDF Print E-mail

The fourth-generation BMW 3-series convertible is to be launched at January?s North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) but as is increasingly the case with the world?s automakers, BMW has given the press a teaser in advance of 2007?s NAIAS.

The BMW 3-series soft-top was the first to realistically accommodate four adults in comfort; most rivals suffered from the folding mechanism of the roof intruding into the rear passenger compartment. Now BMW has gone one better ? emulating such as Peugeot, Renault and Volkswagen - and produced a full four-seater convertible, but with a folding metal roof.

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Made of lightweight steel, the three-piece roof opens in just 22 seconds and equally speedily retracts into a rear compartment of the car. The manufacturer claims the new roof structure ensures low noise levels, even at high speeds, while also contributing to the torsional rigidity of the vehicle, guaranteeing reliable handling and freedom from rattles.

Two versions will be available in the US next year: a powerful 335i featuring twin turbochargers producing 300 bhp, or the 328i with a 3-liter in-line six delivering a more relaxed 230 bhp.

The 325i uses a completely new engine and, says its makers, it is the world?s first in-line six with twin turbos and high-precision direct injection. The torque output of this unit is particularly impressive, giving a healthy 400 Nm between 1,400 and 5,000 rpm. Moreover, the use of lightweight materials in its construction enables BMW to achieve and almost perfect 50:50 front to rear weight distribution.

Performance is, as you would anticipate, pretty exciting with 100 km/h coming up from a standstill in under six seconds, while maximum velocity is electronically controlled to 210 km/h. Similar figures for the less potent version are seven seconds for the 0-100 km/h sprint and an identical top speed.

A six-speed automatic transmission is optional complete with paddle-operated shift levers on the steering wheel.

The standard 17-inch alloy wheels are equipped with 225/45-17 tires with runflat technology. Even with a complete loss of pressure in one tire, the car can continue to be driven for up to 250 kilometers at 80 km/h. The vehicle though is fitted with tire pressure monitors on all wheels to warn the driver as soon as the pressure drops more than 25 per cent below the optimum level.

There is a new, enhanced dynamic stability control that takes care of brake functions and vehicle stability in slippery conditions by applying individual braking to selected wheels and reducing power output. Other features of the system include brake-drying by gently applying the pads in wet weather to ensure constant stopping power, cornering brake control that counteracts excessive oversteer by applying the brakes to an appropriate wheel, and a start-assist application that holds the car when pulling away on an incline.

A convertible by necessity is of a different construction to its sedan counterpart and consequently, deformation in any kind of impact will react differently. The front bulkhead of the new 3-series is made of high-strength steel with longitudinal profile bars and reinforcements, while in the event of a side impact, forces acting on the car will be diverted to the opposite side through the reinforced floorpan. Rear-end shunts are resisted by an extra-strong trunk floor and side panels. In addition, there is a permanent roll-over sensor that activates rear roll-bars located in the rear headrests.

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It is not common for a major European automaker to launch such a significant product at NAIAS, yet as the States is likely to be the dominant market for this exciting new convertible, it somehow makes a great deal of sense. No prices have been announced but expect it to be considerably above the outgoing model, thanks to the increased technology.

 
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© 2018 Jeff Heselwood. All rights reserved.
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