The BMW 3 Series convertible is an automobile for individualists – for people who love open-air driving and want to set themselves apart from the crowd, but who have no inclination to give up everyday practicality. Now, there is a new BMW convertible that further heightens the pleasure of top-down driving and offers even greater esthetic distinction. It is the BMW convertible as interpreted by BMW M: the new, unique M3 convertible.
Like its predecessors, of which some 13,000 examples were built in two generations, the new 3rd-generation M3 convertible radiates its own presence like no other automobile in the world. As a new variation on the already successful E46 3 Series convertible, this sporting four-seater with fully automatic soft top makes its debut in spring 2001, rounding out the M3 line. It is the only truly high-performance, full four-seater convertible in its market segment.
Though identical with the M3 coupe from front end to A-pillar, this is a car with its own identity. Its rising beltline and typical BMW convertible proportions impart a visually lower stance and even stronger esthetic character than the M3 coupe, whose muscularity is already quite impressive. The convertible’s length and width are identical with those of the coupe; its height (with the top up) is 0.6 in. lower.
Of course the M3 convertible shares with its coupe stablemate all the typical M qualities, from the new high-rpm, 333-hp engine through the skillfully calibrated M sport suspension and upgraded brakes to the design elements one expects of a thoroughbred M Car.
In the convertible’s cabin, convertible-specific features add esthetic and functional appeal. Power front sport seats, for example, are standard in the convertible (they are optional in the coupe); they incorporate seat-integrated safety belts and a power easy-entry feature to make entering and exiting the rear seats especially convenient. The new M sport seats, with their adjustable backrest side bolsters, are available optionally. Details like these give the new M3 convertible an even higher-caliber, more luxurious interior than that of its predecessor. (The previous M3 convertible was available through 1999.)
Shared with ‘regular’ 3 Series convertibles is the thoughtful variable soft top compartment, which accommodates the folded top but allows increased cargo capacity when the top is raised. Conveniently positioned for raised or folded top via a lever in the trunk, this compartment increases trunk space significantly over that available when the top is folded.
The M3 convertible’s soft top is lined (for interior quietness and weather insulation), equipped with a heated glass rear window, and fully automatic. From unlatching at the windshield header, to lowering the side windows slightly, to raising its rigid magnesium cover and then closing it, the top lowers completely at the push of a button – quickly and quietly. It can even be lowered from the remote control. And of course raising it is just as easy. For top-down driving, a wind deflector is available. For long winters, BMW offers a removable hardtop crafted of aluminum, and a roof-rack carrier system for the hardtop is also available. An available Cold Weather Package includes a trunk-to-interior ski bag.
Thoroughbred sports-car performance
With this new engine and the also new 6-speed transmission, the M3 convertible achieves true sports-car performance. Factory data for the European version indicate acceleration from zero to 100 km/h (62 mph) in around 5 sec.; 80-120 km/h (50-75 mph) in 4th gear takes just 5.9 sec., indicating that this engine delivers not just brilliant performance through the gears, but also usable response at everyday driving speeds. Top speed is electronically controlled to 155 mph.
With this new M3 convertible, BMW M has created a four-seater sports car of extraordinary character and capabilities – one that is truly without direct competition
Price this car:
MSRP: $45,400 – $53,400
Invoice: $41,020 – $48,220
Source: BMW Press Release