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Car reviews - BMW - 3 Series - Coupe and Convertible

Launch Story

6 Aug 2010

THE midlife makeover for BMW’s volume-selling 3 Series sedan range was launched in Australia 18 months ago, and now the same changes are available for the two-door 3 Series Coupe and Convertible line-up, which accounts for a quarter of all 3 Series sales and 10 per cent of all BMW sales here.

As we reported in May, the upgrades are accompanied by a $1900 price reduction at base level, with the entry-level 320d diesel manual coupe now costing $65,600 ($78,500 for the convertible), and a $4600 discount for buyers of the manual M3 Coupe ($158,300), which also scores a fuel-saving idle-stop system.

All other models in the five-variant coupe and convertible range, including the M3 Convertible (up $560 to $176,700 manual), increase in price, including the auto-only 330d six-cylinder diesel (up $650), the 325i (up $1300) and new-look 335i M Sport (up $4200 for the coupe).

All models receive a new front bumper with wider kidney grille and lower air intake, a wider rear bumper, revised L-shaped tail-lights with ‘light bars’ and the option of new LED headlight elements including ‘eyebrows’, low and high-beam rings and indicators, which are standard on the new-look 335i M Sport.

While three new metallic colours (fresh blue, red and white hues) bring to 15 the total number of exterior paint options – three of which are non-metallic – there’s also a new ‘Oyster/Black’ interior leather option, bringing to six the number of standard Dakota leather choices.

The first facelift for BMW’s E92 coupe (released here in October 2006) and E93 convertible (launched locally in April 2007) also brings a new ‘Bamboo Grain Anthracite’ interior trim option.

Mechanically, there are three new 18-inch alloy wheel options across the range, while the 325i and 330d gain a new 17-inch alloy wheel design.

BMW says the change to spring-disc damping valve technology for all models except the M3 and 335i Convertible result in improved low-speed ride quality without any sacrifice to handing agility or stability, while buyers can elect to delete the lower, firmer M Sport suspension that now comes standard on the 335i. Run-flat tyres remain standard across the 3 Series range.

The most significant mechanical changes, however, have been applied to the entry-level 320d, which is now available as standard here with a six-speed manual transmission for the first time.

The base 320d also comes with an upgraded 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel that now delivers 5kW more power (135kW at 4000tpm) and 30Nm more torque (380Nm at 1900rpm). While the six-speed automatic option continues, the new manual is fitted with an idle-stop function that helps to reduce average fuel consumption to just 4.7L/100km (coupe) and 5.1L/100km (convertible).

A carryover 160kW/250Nm 2.5-litre straight six matched to either six-speed manual or automatic transmissions powers the entry-level petrol variant, the 325i ($84,900 coupe $98,700 convertible), while a 180kW/520Nm 3.0-litre inline six-cylinder turbo-diesel continues to power the 330d coupe ($94,700) and convertible ($107,700), out-powering Audi’s 176kW A5 3.0 TDI and Mercedes’ 150kW E250 GCI.

A conventional six-speed automatic transmission is standard for the 330d, but costs an extra $2964 with both the 320d and 325i.

The headline act of the facelifted two-door lines is the new-look 335i with standard M Sport features and new TwinPower turbo engine, making it at least $4100 more expensive than the 335i it replaces. Buyers of the new 335i M Sport coupe and convertible variants now get a similar look to the M3 for a respective $116,700 and $129,900 (manual).

Both newly named 335i models get a new 3.0-litre TwinPower straight six with High Precision Injection, Valvetronic fully variable valve management and a single twin-scroll turbocharger rather than twin turbochargers to develop the same 225kW of power and 400Nm of torque as before, but with eight per cent (0.7L/100km) lower fuel consumption at 8.4L/100km for the coupe and 8.8L/100km for the convertible.

Like the M3, the revised 335i – whose 4kg-lighter engine is also claimed to offer improved response – is available with a six-speed manual or seven-speed M-DCT transmission, the latter featuring new gearshift paddles that work the same as in the M3 (left paddle for downshifts, right for upshifts).

The 335’s now-standard M Sport kit includes a full bodykit, 19-inch double-spoke alloys and lower and stiffer M Sport suspension (which can be a delete option), plus M Sport door sills, a sports multi-function steering wheel, aluminium trim highlights and BMW Individual anthracite headlining.

The 335i also comes standard with the LED headlight ‘eyebrows’, rings and indicators, which form part of the optional Innovations Package available for the first time. BMW expects an uptake of more than 60 per cent for the Innovations Package, which costs $6425 with the 320d, $6095 with the 325i and $5885 with the 330d.

The 335’s M Sport Package – from which the M suspension upgrade can be deleted – is also available for the 320d ($6500), 325i ($5200) and 330d ($4200).

Changes for both the M-badged 3 Series coupe and folding hard-top models are limited to the new tail-lights, a new Mineral White metallic paint colour and BMW’s Auto Stop/Start system fitted as standard in both manual and – for the first time – automatic guises.

The idle-stop feature reduces combined average fuel consumption by a claimed six per cent to 11.2L/100km with the M3’s optional M-DCT seven-speed twin-clutch automated manual transmission, which is chosen by 65 per cent of Australian M3 buyers.

Powered by the same 309kW/400Nm 4.0-litre V8 as before, the M3 Coupe is now priced at $158,300 as a manual – down from $162,900 – while the M3 Convertible now costs $560 more at $176,700 (manual).

Bringing the two-door M3s in line with the M3 sedan, however, BMW Australia has removed the M-Drive driver interface and Electronic Damper Control functions from the M3 Coupe’s standard equipment list.

Instead, a new Competition Package option is available, comprising M Drive, an upgraded EDC system with new Sport mode and a modified DSC electronic stability control system.

BMW expects more than 20 per cent of 320d buyers will opt for the new six-speed manual, while the upgraded 320d and new-look 335i M Sport should both continue to account for a third of all 3 Series Coupe and Convertible sales.

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