BMW 3-Series Convertible

Few automobiles stir emotions quite like a convertible. Whether it's the feeling of freedom created by top-down driving or their seductive shapes, convertibles have long been regarded by many car enthusiasts and casual onlookers alike as providing a one-of-a-kind exhilarating driving experience. However, that experience can come at a price because a traditional fabric roof often does not provide sufficient chassis stiffness necessary for agile handling.

Writing for Car and, Dave Vanderwerp observed that the 3 Series convertibles drive as good as they look. "From the driver's seat, we can tell you that the new 3 Series is among the stiffest in its class, with almost no perceptible quivers felt through either the seat or the steering wheel."

Sam Hardy of the UK's Auto Express wrote, "... just like its predecessors, the newcomer drives brilliantly. Strengthening of the chassis and windscreen pillars has resulted in the stiffest open-top BMW ever, and the 3 Series feels rock-solid over bumps. With such a solid platform, it's great fun through bends, turning in instantly, staying flat during high-speed cornering and giving excellent feel thanks to its weighty, accurate steering."

The 2010 3 Series Convertible goes on sale this fall with few changes. Automatic High Beams will be available for the first time as a stand-alone option. Now, a BMW Professional Radio with HD Radio reception becomes standard. The HiFi sound system remains available with the choice of the optional Premium Sound with Logic7 sound system. A new standard wheel style is being introduced on the 328i Convertible. The 2010 model 328i Convertible and 335i Convertible start at $45,875 and $52,075, respectively, including $875 Destination & Handling fee.

The BMW 3 Series Convertibles provide a new dimension to open-air motoring with a retractable hardtop. Made of lightweight steel and operated by an electro-hydraulic mechanism, the three-piece roof opens in just 22 seconds (taking only one second more to close) and folds smoothly into the rear compartment of BMW's newest convertibles. The three-element steel roof structure ensures lower noise levels even at high speeds, enhances safety, creates a more luxurious and comfortable cabin and helps stiffen the chassis to provide precise handling.

The roof opens automatically in a flowing motion as each of the three elements rests above the other to create a compact package. The rear lid opens rearward and once the roof has been opened or closed and the hardtop is locked, the driver is able to open the trunklid in the usual manner. The trunklid also comes with a soft-close feature that draws the lid down gently and automatically.

The roof and luggage compartments are separated from one another by a partition that swivels when the roof is closed to provide maximum luggage capacity. Another convenient feature is that the roof can open by remote control when the car is equipped with the Comfort Access option. Like the roof controls within the interior, the remote control button must be kept pressed down for safety during the entire opening process because movement of the roof elements is interrupted whenever the button is released.

The 328i Convertible's N52 3.0 liter, 230 hp inline 6-cylinder engine features magnesium/aluminum crankcase construction and BMW's innovative Valvetronic system which eliminates the conventional throttle body for throttle control—a technology found only on BMW Group engines. Compared to the previous-generation’s M54 engine family, the N52 achieves impressive progress on all fronts.

Speaking of which, acceleration from 0 to 60 mph is achieved in a spirited 6.7 seconds for the 6-speed manual and in 7.2 seconds for convertibles equipped with the STEPTRONIC 6-speed automatic transmission. The top speed of the 328i is electronically limited to 130 mph or 150 mph if equipped with the optional Sport Package.

It is the most powerful engine within BMW's wide range of inline 6-cylinder driving machines that does not wear an "M" badge. This engine, designated N54, develops a maximum output of 300 hp in U.S. specifications from 3.0 liters displacement and generates peak torque of 300 lb-ft for powerful acceleration in any situation. And it achieves these results using technology that might surprise students of BMW history: turbocharging.

The peak power of 300 hp has already been mentioned; this is 70 up on the 2010 328i Convertible. At least as important is the fact that this engine can deliver its peak torque from 1400 rpm - not far above idling - to 5000 rpm. On the road, this power and torque result in outstanding performance. The 335i Convertible equipped with the 6-speed manual transmission accelerates from 0-60 mph in just 5.5 seconds; 5.7 seconds with the 6-speed STEPTRONIC automatic transmission. This sense of urgency continues all the way to the electronically limited top speed of 150 mph when equipped with the optional Sport Package.

The BMW 3 Series Convertibles offer 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 compartment into two single seats. Thanks to their low seating position, these models offer generous head room. Access to the two rear seats is facilitated by the seat release lever fitted at the top of the seat backrest and the 2-speed fore-aft power adjustment switch.

Offering a wide range of safety and comfort features, the BMW 3 Series Convertibles make every trip an experience in driving pleasure. To supplement the range of standard equipment, the newest BMW convertibles are available with a wide choice of high-tech audio, navigation, Bluetooth and telematic functions.

Source: BMW press

Gallery: BMW 3-Series Convertible