Spring 2007 marks the introduction of BMW’s new 3 Series Convertible. Available initially in 325i and 335i guises, but followed closely by smaller engined variants and diesel-powered models, BMW’s new open-top will deliver the ultimate in performance and refinement thanks to a number of innovations. Featuring the first electronically operated folding hard-top roof offered by BMW, the world’s first car to be offered with SunReflective seat cooling leather and a brace of all-new powerplants, the 3 Series Convertible is set to remain the segment leader.
The fourth generation of BMW’s open-top four-seater heralds a new chapter in the history of the BMW Convertible. While the existing triple-layered fabric roofs currently showcased in the 6 Series Convertible and the Z4 Roadster are unsurpassed in heat and noise insulation, the designers of the new 3 Series Convertible decided to raise the bar again. The model now comes with a three-piece electronically-operated retractable hard-top – a first for BMW.
Stowed or raised in approximately 22 seconds, the new roof has been introduced, not only for added security, but also for better visibility and a greater feeling of space and light for occupants. Because the roof features a larger rear glass windscreen and side windows, visibility has improved by 38 per cent compared to the outgoing 3 Series Convertible.
The unique way in which the roof folds also maximises available boot space. With the roof up 350 litres of storage capacity beckons while with the roof down, the boot can still accommodate up to 210 litres of luggage. In another world first, the rear seat backrests of a 3 Series Convertible can also be folded flat to provide additional storage space. As an option, a through loading system with transport bag can also be specified to allow for longer or bulkier items to be accommodated and it can still be used when the folding metal roof is lowered. For added practicality, a stowed roof can be electronically raised out of the boot area to allow for longer items such as golf clubs to be secured before being folded away again.
The new BMW 3 Series Convertible can also be specified with the world’s first Sun-Reflective Technology leather upholstery. Now owners of BMW’s latest four-seat sun-trap can enjoy the warm weather and leave the roof down for prolonged periods without singeing themselves on the seats or armrests. Special pigments embedded into the leather help reflect infra-red radiation ensuring treated areas that are exposed to sunlight for a prolonged period can remain up to 20 degrees cooler compared to untreated leather.
New High-Precision Direct Injection engines
BMW is renowned for producing some of the most innovative powerplants and the new 3 Series Convertible features a range of engines that set them apart from the competition. A choice of two petrol engines, both with new High-Precision Direct Injection technology, offer the best blend of performance and economy. Further engine variants will follow during the model’s life cycle.
The new High-Precision Direct Injection system on the BMW 3 Series Convertible uses centrally-mounted piezo crystal injectors spraying atomised fuel vapour directly into the combustion chamber. Combined with Bi-VANOS variable valve technology the system delivers the most efficient burn of fuel for maximum power and parsimonious economy. The fruits of this technology are highlighted by the impressive performance figures posted by all of the petrol-powered 3 Series Convertibles. The 325i Convertible with its all-new 218hp six-cylinder engine develops 270Nm of torque. The open-topped 325i covers the 62mph sprint in 7.6 seconds and can attain a top speed of 152mph. However, it is still capable of a combined consumption figure of 35.8mpg.
Representing the flagship of the range is the 335i Convertible with its twin-turbocharged 3.0-litre engine. Using an aluminium cylinder block rather than the magnesium alloy unit from the 325i Convertible, but with the added benefit of lag-free forced induction, the 335i posts a zero to 62mph time of 5.8 seconds. The 306hp engine, higher than the output of the E36 BMW M3, has been restricted to a 155mph top speed. Fuel consumption on the combined cycle is 28.5mpg. Peak torque of 400Nm from just 1,300rpm through to 5,000rpm gives the driver a real surge of effortless power, acceleration and flexibility.
Both the 325i Convertible and the 335i Convertible come as standard with a six-speed manual gearbox. A new six-speed automatic transmission featuring steering wheel-mounted gearshift paddles first shown on the 3 Series Coupé can also be specified.
Future powerplants to be offered
Following the introduction of the 325i Convertible and the 335i Convertible, three further engines will be introduced. The 320i Convertible with its all-new 170hp four-cylinder engine will accelerate from zero to 62mph in 9.2 seconds before going on to a top speed of 136mph, yet still manages 42.2mpg on the combined cycle.
The 3.0-litre straight-six powering the 330i Convertible is the world’s lightest production six-cylinder engine and is also one of the highest performing. The 2,996cc 272hp unit is capable of propelling the 330i Convertible from zero to 62mph in 6.7 seconds and is electronically limited to 155mph. The car returns an excellent fuel consumption figure of 34.9mpg on the combined cycle.
For those who prefer the enhanced economy of a diesel engine without wishing to lose any on-road performance the 231hp 330d Convertible is also offered. With a torque curve flatter than a 14th Century map of the world, the 500Nm peak output of the second-generation common rail engined 330d Convertible offers smooth and swift motoring. Zero to 62mph is dispatched in 7.1 seconds and top speed is 152mph. The 330d Convertible posts a combined consumption figure of 40.9mpg.
The BMW 3 Series Convertible will make its debut at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit on 7 January, 2007. It will go on sale in the UK in March, 2007.
The new BMW 3 Series Convertible retains all the elegance and unique style that is characteristic of the 3 Series with the top either open or closed. The long and sleek hood, low shoulder line and the broad-shouldered rear end make the new BMW 3 Series Convertible unmistakable from any angle. And with the new retracting hardtop, it offers performance, comfort, safety, and value unique in its segment.
The new BMW 3 Series Convertible is characterized by well-balanced proportions with either the roof open or closed. It boasts an unmistakable silhouette that is readily recognizable thanks to its retractable hardtop. With the three roof elements folding conveniently into the luggage compartment, the new model continues the low shoulder-line so typical of a BMW 3 Series Convertible.
Inside the new Convertible, the functional benefits of the hardtop are clear. The only way BMW engineers could exceed the proven qualities of the BMW soft top in terms of resistance to tough winter weather and superior noise control was to switch over to a steel plate structure. The closed roof, with its large windows and fully lined underside, offers the occupants optimum visibility as well as a bright and premium ambience. Compared to the previous generation 3 Series Convertible, the rear side windows are now 30 percent larger and visibility to the rear has been improved by a significant 38 percent.
With the top closed, the low roofline makes the shoulder line of the car the dominating feature from the side, again retaining the impression of sporting elegance at all times. Since there is no conventional “B” pillar, the feeling of open-air driving can still be achieved with just the side windows rolled down. Approaching the C-pillar, the “Hofmeister kink”, a traditional feature of BMW design, can be clearly seen. The rear window is fixed glass with an electric rear defroster for safety and convenience.
The 3 Series Convertible’s navigation and radio antennas are integrated within the car. Therefore, conventional rod-type aerials are not visible and do not detract from the clean lines of the bodywork. Radio reception with the roof open is ensured by aerials in the side panels, while aerials in the rear window are automatically activated as soon as the roof is closed. Vehicles equipped with SIRIUS satellite radio are equipped with a separate antenna mounted on the rear decklid.
Maximum comfort and uncompromising function are the key features of the new roof with its incredible electrohydraulic mechanism. The three-piece steel roof opens automatically in a flowing motion as each lid element rests above the other for a compact package. The rear lid of the Convertible opens rearward and once the roof has been completely opened or closed and the hardtop is locked, the driver is able to open the trunklid in the usual way. The roof opens in just 22 seconds and closes in 23 seconds. The rear lid also comes with a soft-close feature that draws the lid down gently and automatically.
To ensure optimum use of the car’s storage capacities in every situation, the roof and luggage compartments are separated from one another by a variable partition swivelling conveniently when the roof is closed in order to provide maximum luggage capacity. Another convenient feature is that the roof can open by remote control when equipped with Comfort Access. Like the roof control switch within the interior, the remote control button must be kept pressed down for safety during the entire opening process as movement of the roof elements will be interrupted whenever the button is released.
A truly individual character within the BMW 3 Series
Following the Sedan, Sport Wagon and Coupe, the new 3 Series Convertible is the fourth variant of the highly successful BMW 3 Series line-up. Despite the familial resemblance borne out in many design features typical of the brand, the new Convertible is truly unique. Looking at the front end of the car, all similarities to the BMW 3 Series Coupe are only from the A-pillar forward. The sporting style of the new Convertible starts at the contours of the long and low hood as well as the special design of the front air dam and headlights. The distinctive BMW kidney grilles stand out more upright than the surrounding areas and surfaces.
The new Convertible comes standard with Xenon Adaptive headlights with BMW’s unique corona ring lights serving as daytime running lamps, providing efficient daytime illumination. Indeed, these striking light rings make the Convertible easy to recognize and identify as a BMW at very first sight even at dusk.
Elegance and sleek dynamics
The side view of the car is dominated by the horizontal shoulder line which gives the new 3 Series Convertible particular style and elegance. The large wheel arches add sporting and dynamic flair from every angle. The sleek and dynamic look of the new 3 Series Convertible is further accentuated by the contour line that runs level with the door handles. A sill-line at the lower edge of the doors continues all the way into the air dams at the front and rear.
This interaction of the car’s lines and carefully-modelled surfaces provides a striking three-dimensional effect guiding not only more light, but also the eye of the beholder to the area around the car’s rear axle. This effect is indeed intentional, with the optical impression created in this way reflecting the actual driving experience as the new 3 Series Convertible, like all BMWs, features rear wheel drive for outstanding performance on the road.
The rear view of the car is equally sporting and elegant: particularly with the roof down, the new BMW 3 Series Convertible also looks low and wide from behind. And while the contour line ends in the rear light clusters at each side, the shoulder line extends around the entire rear section. The rear tail lamp assemblies are split into two sections and extend all the way into the lid of the luggage compartment. Horizontal LED light rods ensure a striking look at night, while the third brake light is integrated into the aerodynamically-designed spoiler edge on the decklid.
Flowing lines for true style within the interior
Like the exterior, the interior of the new 3 Series Convertible features sleek and flowing lines, powerful and tense surfaces and a highly attractive combination of convex and concave design elements. The controls for air conditioning, the audio and navigation systems are within optimum visibility and within easy reach for the front passenger. Several controls and switches including the door handles and gearshift lever are finished in a sophisticated Pearl Gray metal to ensure a premium tactile feeling with elegant looks.
The side panels display a smooth and sweeping design flow that extends from the dashboard all the way to the backrests on the two rear seats. The center console also extends all the way to the rear, serving as a storage compartment between the rear seats. Ambience lighting, mounted on the door and rear side panels, projects a warm and indirect light effect.
Two versions will be available in the US. The powerful 335i Convertible features BMW’s newest inline six-cylinder engine with twin turbochargers and an intercooler for 300 incredibly flexible horsepower, thanks to high precision direct fuel injection with piezo injectors. The 328i Convertible features a 230-hp 3.0-liter inline six-cylinder engine with Valvetronic technology and aluminum/magnesium construction.
The more sporting version of the new 3 Series Convertible, the 335i, is powered by the world’s first inline six-cylinder with Twin Turbo and High Precision Direct Injection technology and an all-aluminum crankcase. Rated at 300 hp at 5,800 rpm and 300 lb-ft of torque at 1,400 – 5,000 rpm, this 3.0-liter engine offers cutting-edge performance thanks to the theories behind BMW’s Efficient Dynamics. Using high-tech materials allows the engine to be a lightweight performer, which helps BMW achieve near 50/50 weight distribution on this and all of its vehicles. Low inertia turbocharger internals and high precision direct fuel injection makes turbo lag nearly non-existent as peak torque starts at a mere 1,400 rpm. High precision direct injection is also ideal for lean burn operation. In the lean burn mode, various intercepting layers of the fuel and air form within the combustion chamber. The fuel/air mixture is therefore particularly rich and ignitable only in the direct vicinity of the spark plug and once ignited, the flame travels to the leaner layers further from the spark plug for a clean, smooth and consistent combustion process. Redline is still an impressive 7,000 rpm and compression ratio is 10.2:1. Typical of a BMW engine are incredible smoothness, fast-revving response and refined power at all engine speeds.
The BMW 335i Convertible accelerates to 60 mph in just 5.5 seconds for the six-speed manual, and in 5.7 seconds for the six-speed Steptronic automatic transmission. Top speed is electronically-controlled to 130 mph and on vehicles equipped with the Sport Package, top speed is governed at 150 mph.
The 328i Convertible is equipped with a the 3.0-liter inline six-cylinder engine that delivers 230 smooth horsepower at a peak of 6,500rpm and 200 lb-ft of torque at 2,750 rpm. Featuring BMW’s innovative Valvetronic engine system, which eliminates the conventional throttle body for throttle control, efficiency and power are available over a broader range for silky-smooth operation. The magnesium/aluminum block is a perfect example of BMW Efficient Dynamics where lightweight technology is at work, making the 328i unique against its competition. The electric engine coolant pump also demonstrates one of the many examples where efficiency can be felt at the accelerator pedal. Speaking of which, acceleration from 0 to 60 mph comes in a spirited 6.7 seconds for the six-speed manual and in 7.2 seconds for vehicles with the Steptronic six-speed automatic transmission. Like the 335i, the 328i is limited to 130 mph or 150 mph if equipped with the Sport Package.
New automatic transmission with optional shift paddles
A thoroughly enhanced six-speed automatic transmission is available as an option on both models to meet the greatest demands for comfort and performance. A quicker and more responsive hydraulic control system, together with an innovative new torque converter and significantly enhanced control software ensure reaction times that are 40% faster than conventional automatic transmissions. In addition, gear change timing has been almost halved. The torque converter clutch connects the engine more directly to enhance performance, response and fuel economy.
Should the driver wish to control the sporting character of the transmission directly, the optional paddles on the steering wheel provide direct selection of the gear when in manual mode. Because the gearshift paddles can be activated directly at any time, even if the gear selector lever is in Drive, this manual gearshift function always provides extremely spontaneous performance. Shift paddles are an available option when ordered with automatic transmission and Sport Package.
Innovative suspension technology for maximum precision
With power being transmitted to the rear wheels, the rack-and-pinion steering remains free of drive forces. Optional Active Steering varies steering ratio as a function of road speed for higher steering ratio at the same steering wheel angle at low speeds than at high speeds. This enables the driver to control the car even more smoothly and with minimal effort, while remaining precisely on course at high speeds in the interest of maximum safety.
Featuring a double-pivot McPherson strut-type aluminum suspension in front and a five-link independent rear suspension, the new BMW 3 Series Convertible boasts the most advanced underpinnings in its class. Further advantages are the low center of gravity, well-balanced axle load and special damper set-up helping to give this outstanding new convertible its impressive dynamic driving qualities.
The standard 17-inch alloy wheels run on 225/45R17 tires with runflat technology. Even with a complete loss of pressure in one tire, the vehicle can continue to be driven for up to 150 miles at 50 miles per hour to get to the nearest service station. BMW’s new Tire Pressure Monitor watches the pressures in each tire and will warn the driver as soon as the pressure drops more than 25 percent below the optimum level.
DSC with enhanced functions for extra safety and dynamics.
The highly effective brake system is further enhanced and upgraded by BMW’s Dynamic Stability Control with its many innovative new functions. This latest generation of DSC technology controls brake functions and vehicle stability on slippery roads by applying individual wheel brakes and reducing engine output. Other features of this system include:
Brake Drying- By lightly applying the pads in wet weather conditions, optimum stopping power can also be experienced in the wet.
rake Standby – Preloads the brake pads to enhance brake response whenever necessary, especially when you’ve suddenly lifted off the accelerator pedal.
Brake Fade Compensation maximizes brake pressure whenever necessary in the interest of particular stopping power. The result is even foot pedal pressure no matter how hot the brakes get.
Cornering Brake Control counteracts unwanted oversteer when applying the brakes lightly in a bend and in conjunction with Active Steering, DSC can countersteer appropriately to maintain additional stability at all times.
Start Off Assistant – Holds the vehicle when stopped on an uphill to prevent you from rolling back when releasing the brake pedal. It will hold for three seconds.
Dynamic Stability Control ensures optimum traction on loose surfaces, while Dynamic Traction Control can be selected to raise the threshold before it applies the brakes. It promotes a sportier style of driving, allowing light wheel slip on the drive wheels. DSC may be deactivated completely when appropriate.
Light and torsionally stiff: the bodyshell.
The intelligent combination of innovative and proven materials, as well as modern production technology, helps to give the new BMW 3 Series Convertible a particularly light but at the same time very stable body. Indeed, BMW’s body development specialists have achieved the highest level of torsional stiffness ever seen in a BMW Convertible. Unladen weight of the new BMW 3 Series Convertible is approximately 400 lb above that of the BMW 3 Series Coupe. This extra weight results from the installation of additional support members in the floor and the electric motors and hydraulic elements required for the retractable hardtop.
The innovative plastic side front fenders weigh 50 percent less than conventional steel panels. And unlike conventional plastic, the new side panels are made of a special synthetic material and no longer have to be painted separately. Instead, they go through the regular painting process together with the complete body-in-white. Deformation areas at the front of the car, together with other features, serve to provide maximum occupant protection in a frontal collision. The bulkhead support is made of innovative, high-strength steel with longitudinal profile bars and reinforcements. In addition, the extra-strong luggage compartment floor and rear and side panels minimize the consequences of a collision from behind.
In a side impact, forces acting on the car are diverted to the opposite side through the reinforced floor pan. The side sills are made of steel profiles that vary in geometry for greater resistance to bending. Interacting with the doors, the seats and the instrument panel, these specially-made components ensure maximum stability between the A-pillars.
The carefully conceived arrangement and dimensions of the car’s load-bearing structures, crash boxes and deformation zones help to keep impact energy away from the passengers. Restraint and support systems are tailored to one another and controlled by one unit to ensure proper protection for each occupant. The front and side airbags, belt latch tensioners and belt force limiters are activated by the car’s sensor-controlled safety electronics based on the type and severity of the impact. The side airbags are integrated into the seat backrests and inflate in the event of a side-impact collision over a large area extending from the bottom of the backrest all the way to the upper edge of the headrest to provide effective upper body and head protection regardless of seating position.
Extra safety in the event of a rollover is ensured by the windshield frame that serves as a rollover safety bar. Rollover sensors that permanently monitoring all vertical and horizontal movements of the car can activate rollbars positioned behind the rear headrests. The belt latch tensioners on the front seats as well as the side airbags are activated within fractions of a second.
Four seats, lots of space, extra freedom: the interior.
The new BMW 3 Series Convertible offers open-air driving pleasure for four. The front seats come with integrated belt systems and the center console extends all the way to the rear, splitting the rear into two single seats for extra comfort by offering generous headroom thanks to their low seating position.
Over the previous model, shoulder room at the rear is increased by 3.15 inches and elbow room grows 4.72 inches. Access to the two seats at the rear is facilitated by both the seat release lever fitted at the top of the seat backrest and the 2x-speed fore-aft power adjustment switch.
Measuring 12.25 cubic feet, luggage capacity is still very generous. And even with the roof down, the remaining capacity of 7.35 cubic feet provides ample space for taking along additional necessities. And by folding the rear seat backrest down, one can conveniently load bulky objects on the flat area behind the rear seats, without the risk of harming the upholstery. A unique feature for this kind of convertible is the optional opening between the rear seat area and luggage compartment that measures 15.75 inches and connects the luggage compartment with the rear passenger area, thus making the new 3 Series Convertible ideal for the driver and passenger travelling long distances and for many transport requirements in everyday use. This option includes a ski/transport bag that is easily and conveniently set up within seconds (and can be removed just as easily).
The new BMW 3 Series Convertible features BMW’s trendsetting iDrive system to control the Navigation, Climate, Entertainment, and Communication functions. The new monitor automatically adjusts to ambient light conditions and is positioned in a perfect ergonomic arrangement in the instrument panel.
New to the 3 Series Convertible are eight Programmable Memory Keys on the dashboard that serve to simplify operation and control. Two of the eight keys allow quick access to AM or FM radio stations and control the music source. The remaining six can be programmed for favorite items such as navigation destinations, radio stations or even telephone numbers. The keys are touch-sensitive: each respective function is clearly presented on the iDrive display as soon as the driver places his or her finger on the button.
Unique and premium equipment.
Offering a wide range of safety and comfort features, the new BMW 3 Series Convertible makes every trip an experience in pleasure. To supplement the wide range of standard equipment, the new BMW 3 Series Convertible is available with a wide choice of high-tech audio, navigation, Bluetooth and telematic functions.
New management and control of the automatic air conditioning, for example, serves to enhance the high standard of comfort in the Convertible. Automatic programs for ventilating the car selected through iDrive are now being supplemented by another mode: In addition to the three “Gentle”, “Medium” and “Intense” stages, the driver is also able to activate a “Convertible” mode whenever the roof is open. This reduces the influence of the interior temperature sensor on the ventilation control. Instead, temperature control and blower intensity are controlled as a function of the exterior temperature and sun glare. A further function is adaptation of the amount of air flowing into the car to its current speed on the road, with Automatic Air Recirculation (AAR) being automatically deactivated at a road speed of more than 50 mph. And when using the heater, the distribution of air is optimized to provide the same consistent temperature throughout the interior of the Convertible.
The new Convertible mode on the automatic air conditioning is available only with the roof open. As soon as the retracting hardtop folds back over the passenger compartment, the automatic air conditioning will return to the program last chosen when the car was closed, the Convertible mode then being automatically reactivated when the driver opens the roof again.
Sun Reflective leather for cooler seating
Particularly appealing on the new 3 Series Convertible is the special leather that was developed for the seating upholstery. Modified color pigments serve to reflect the infra-red radiation by the sun, very effectively preventing excessive temperatures on the seat surfaces otherwise encountered in weather that would be perfect for open-air motoring. To achieve this, BMW is the first carmaker in the world to use Sun Reflective technology in its leather. Applying this process, pigments are embedded in the material during production to reflect infra-red radiation in sunlight in wavelengths of more than 720 Nanometres, significantly reducing the usual heating effect on the surfaces. All other qualities of the leather material remain unchanged.
Sun Reflective technology is used both on the seat upholstery and on the armrests to prevent body contact with excessively hot surfaces. This new leather treatment is able to reduce surface temperatures on dark interior colours by up to 68 °F, and also offers advantages on light-colored upholstery, where the heating effect of sunshine is less severe.
An accessory wind deflector developed especially for the new BMW 3 Series Convertible reduces air swirl within the interior even at high speeds. This new wind deflector is fastened firmly in the rear of the passenger compartment by supports in the side panels and can be swivelled into position. Just one single movement of your hand either on the driver’s or passenger’s side is sufficient to securely fasten the deflector in position.
The BMW 3 Series Convertible—maintaining the tradition
BMW 3 Series Convertibles have been known for incredible top-down driving experiences for 19 years running. The new BMW 3 Series Convertible continues this tradition without any compromise. The very first Convertible based on the BMW 3 Series debuted in 1987 and was the epitome of dynamic performance and sporting elegance. As the first premium manufacturer to launch an open four-seater in this segment, the competition has now become most challenging and fierce, but the BMW 3 Series Convertible remains unique to this very day.
Unlike many open four-seaters in other classes, the first BMW 3 Series Convertible had a soft top that moved down completely beneath a firm cover at the rear of the car, to maintain its classic lines.
This beautiful style continued in 1994 with the second generation 3 Series Convertible. Its larger wheel arches and A-pillars slanted at a lower angle gave it an even more sporting and dynamic look.
The third rendition of the 3 Series Convertible entered the market in 2000 and continued the trend towards dynamic appearances and performance with its muscular surfaces and contours while retaining its usual proportions. All BMW 3 Series Convertibles quickly became classics during their lifetime. The objective in developing each new model was to adopt the elementary qualities so typical of a BMW 3 Series with modern, trendsetting requirements. The new generation comes with an innovative roof concept that not only retains, but further accentuates the original character of the 3 Series Convertible.