Click on the image for a gallery of high-res images of the BMW 3 Series Convertible.
BMW debuted its new 3 Series Convertible to the Australian public at the Brisbane Motor Show on Friday. Featuring a retractable hard-top roof for the first time, the 3 Series Convertible boasts the fastest operating three-piece retractable hard-top in its class taking just 21 seconds to fold into a compartment behind the rear seats.
Brisbane show-goers are the first to see the new BMW models since their world debut at the North American International Motor Show in Detroit. Set to go on sale in Australia in late March, the 3 Series Convertible comes with the choice of 160 kW 325i straight-six, magnesium-aluminium engine, or the new top-of-the-range all-aluminium Twin Turbo 225 kW six in the 335i.
In discussing green technology with Toni Andreevski, PR & Corporate Communications Manager for BMW Australia, I learnt that BMW, through its dynamic efficiency strategy, have turned to plastic panels to reduce the weight of their vehicles in a bid to simultaneously improve performance and fuel economy. Highlighted in the picture above, this 335i panel is made of plastic for just the second time in a BMW model, the first being in the 6 series. Unlike the 6 series though where the panel is painted separately to the rest of the body and then attached at a later time, BMW have developed a system where they can attach both steel and plastic panels to the frame and paint the entire car in one step while still achieving a completely uniform finish across all the panels.
Mr. Andreevski also highlighted the pitfalls of some current hybrid implementations where boot space is drastically reduced which BMW feel is impractical for their customers. Instead, BMW has been following a dual-burn hydrogen / petrol research strategy alongside development of their current fuel efficient diesel range. As another example of trying to reduce vehicle weight, Mr Andreevski indicated that development is progressing well in producing the hydrogen fuel tanks for the Hydrogen 7 model from aluminium instead of steel to halve their weight from 200 kg / 440 lbs to 100 kg, and later from carbon fibre composites to halve the weight again to 50kg.
Unlike hydrogen concept cars under testing by other manufacturers, Mr. Andreevski was proud to say that the BMW Hydrogen 7 has been produced to full production spec which involves crash testing, incineration tests and even shooting bullets at the hydrogen fuel tank.
Analysis: I can only imagine that painting steel and plastic body panels and achieving a uniform finish must be very difficult. Now that BMW has worked it out, they will be in a position to swap plastic panels in and out as they desire to reduce vehicle weight while still maintaining the ideal 50/50 weight distribution. Lighter cars are faster cars, but they are also more fuel efficient cars as the Hyper Car concept has shown us.
By the way, for the record I found the BMW's iDrive system to be far easier to use than most auto journalists give it credit for.
Full press release for the release of the BMW 3 Series Convertible follows after the jump.
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BMW 3 Series Convertible Makes Its Australian Debut At The Brisbane Motor Show
- Retractable hard-top roof featured for the first time
- Fastest operating three-piece retractable hard-top in class
- Rear-view enhanced by 38 per cent for optimum safety
- 3 Series Convertible on sale from March 24
Visitors to the Brisbane International Motor Show will be the first to see the new BMW 3 Series Convertible where it will make its Australian debut, hot on the heels of its world premiere at the North American International Motor Show in Detroit last month.
Continuing to build on the iconic status of the previous model, the new 3 Series Convertible will feature a retractable hard-top for the first time.
It takes just 22 seconds for the fully-lined three-piece retractable hardtop to be lowered – the fastest in its market segment. The lightweight steel roof provides both superior sound insulation and large windows for excellent visibility.
Naturally, BMW's fourth generation 3 Series Convertible provides a dynamic driving experience, enhanced by the choice of travelling fully enclosed in a spacious coupé, or open to the elements enjoying all the benefits of open-top motoring.
Boasting greater torsional stiffness than any other BMW Convertible, the new model comes with the choice of a 160 kW straight six magnesium-aluminium engine which powers the 325i or the new top of the range all-aluminium 3.0-litre Twin Turbo petrol engine that delivers 225 kW of power in the 335i.
On sale from March 24, the BMW 3 Series Convertible starts with the 325i 6-speed manual priced at $94,900.
For ultimate comfort, the leather interior of the new 3 Series Convertible features SunReflective technology, which reduces heat build-up in leather upholstery exposed to direct sunlight by 20 per cent. BMW initially developed the technology for its range of motorcycle riding wear and is the first manufacturer to develop it for automotive use.
The new Convertible is the sleekest rendering yet of the new generation 3 Series design.
The stunning silhouette of the new Convertible is characterised by a slender roofline descending down to the rear and a low and smooth shoulder-line. The inclusion of a hardtop also enabled designers to feature the traditional 'Hofmeister Kick' in the C-pillar, which appears for the first time on a BMW Convertible.
With the roof lowered, the boot retains a remarkable 210 litres of luggage space. In addition, the rear section of the seat backs fold flat allowing a through-loading system that means bulkier items can be carried securely.
Standard equipment for the 325i Convertible includes seat heating for driver and front passenger, premium Dakota leather upholstery with SunReflective technology, Bi-Xenon headlamps, Brake Force Display two-stage brake lights, 17-inch light alloy wheels, BMW Business navigation system with colour monitor, six-stacker CD player, rear Park Distance Control, automatic climate control, and extended lights package for interior illumination, cruise control with brake function, and Bluetooth mobile phone preparation.
From an active safety perspective, the 325i Convertible covers all the bases with standard safety systems including DSC Dynamic Stability Control which incorporates DTC Dynamic Traction Control, CBC Cornering Brake Control and DBC Dynamic Brake Control, while dual front airbags and front seat integrated side airbags with combined head airbags complete the passive safety list.
The 325i Convertible, optionally equipped with a six-speed Steptronic Automatic transmission, is priced at $97,500.
Further 325i Convertible options include sports seats for driver and front passenger, Active Steering, Sport Suspension, 18 or 19-inch light alloy wheels, Comfort Access, Adaptive Headlights, Active Cruise Control, High Beam Assist and LOGIC7 sound system.
The 335i Convertible will be available in both six-speed manual and six-speed automatic transmission guise and priced from $121,500 and $124,100 respectively.
With a power output of 225 kW at 5,800 rpm and 400 Nm of torque between 1,300 rpm and 5,000 rpm, the 335i out performs its closest rival by having notably more power and torque, far faster acceleration (0-100 km/h in 5.8 seconds) and lower fuel consumption (EU combined 9.9-litres per 100 km).
The 6-speed automatic transmission available in the 335i Convertible has been upgraded to deliver shift times around 40 per cent faster than before. Uniquely available to automatic models is the option for steering wheel mounted shift paddles. These alloy-finished shifters are priced at $200.
The 335i Convertible standard specification adds the following features over those of the 325i Convertible: larger front and rear brakes, sports seats for driver and front passenger, 18-inch light alloy wheels, Park Distance Control PDC front and rear, front seat lumbar adjustment, BMW Professional Navigation with 8.8-inch colour monitor and TV and Voice Recognition functions, Hi-Fi loudspeaker system, High Beam Assist and Adaptive Headlights.
The car will be a highlight of the Brisbane International Motor Show, which runs from Friday 2 February to Sunday 11 February at the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre.
2007 BMW 3 Series Convertible Pricing
- 325i with 6-speed manual AUD$94,900
- 325i with 6-speed automatic AUD$97,500
- 335i with 6-speed manual AUD$121,500
- 335i with 6-speed automatic AUD$124,100