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Future models - BMW - 3 Series - 325Ci Convertible

BMW drop-top price chop

Pauper’s delight: Now it’s possible for four people to pose in a new BMW convertible for under $100,000.

The ageing E46 3 Series convertible gains a lower-priced, lower-spec 325Ci variant

10 May 2004

BMW has finally brought in a cheaper 3 Series drop-top.

Out in August, the 325Ci Convertible cruises in from $92,400 for the five-speed manual version and $95,000 for the five-speed automatic.

Currently the least expensive 3 Series Convertible is the 330Ci, from $109,000 for the six-speed manual and $111,600 for the five-speed automatic, while the M3 Convertible, in six-speed manual or SMG guise, opens up from $158,000.

Power for the 325Ci comes courtesy of BMW’s 2.5-litre six-cylinder engine. Its peak kilowatt count is 141 at 6000rpm, while the 245Nm torque top takes place at 3500rpm.

It’s the same in-line unit as found in the 325Ci Coupe (among other BMWs) that has been on sale in Australia, along with the 330Ci Convertible and Coupe, for three-and-a-half years.

In Europe buyers have been able to choose the 325Ci, as well as 318Ci and 320Ci versions of the E46 3 Series range, since 2000.

Meanwhile, the 330Ci and M3 units produce 170kW at 5900rpm and 252kW at 7900rpm, and 300Nm at 3500rpm and 365Nm at 4900rpm respectively.

The 0-100km/h sprint takes 8.0 seconds in the manual 325Ci Convertible, 1.1 seconds behind the equivalent 330Ci but also 1.1 seconds ahead of the automatic 325Ci Convertible, on its way to a 234km/h top speed.

On the European Combined Cycle the 325Ci Convertible averages 9.6L/100km/h which, surprisingly, is identical to the 35kg heavier 330Ci Convertible.

Standard features will include an electric roof, six airbags, leather upholstery, power-operated and heated front seats, cruise control, 17-inch alloy wheels, climate control air-conditioning, a six-stacker CD player and wood trim.

14 center image A BMW Australia spokesperson said there was room in the sub-$100,000 luxury convertible segment for the 325Ci, with no cannibalisation of sales to the higher-priced models envisaged.

The 325Ci’s main rivals will be the $84,900 Audi A4 1.8T Cabriolet and $89,900 Saab 9-3 Aero Convertible. Volvo’s archaic C70 Convertible is also available from $98,000.

Up until April this year, BMW had shifted 215 330Ci Convertibles.

In the same period Saab has sold 277 9-3 drop tops, Audi 63 A4 Cabriolets and Volvo 31 C70 Convertibles.

The last 2.5-litre BMW 3 Series convertible sold locally was the E36 325i from 1993 to early 1995.

That replaced the 1990-1993 E30 325i ragtop, which succeeded the E36 320i Convertible released in early 1988.

But the first chopped-roof 3 Series was the Baur-coach built E21 323i Cabriolet from March 1982 to mid-1983. That was usurped by the E30 version from June ’84 to late ’85.

There was also a Baur convertible 325e in 1986/87. Powered by the infamous low-rev BMW 2.7-litre ETA straight-six engine, it delivered good fuel economy but none of the peaky zing so demanded by BMW aficionados.

Future BMW convertibles will include the 6 Series variants as well as the rumoured 2 Series cars based on the recently unveiled 1 Series range.

An all-new 3 Series coupe and convertible (rumoured to be dubbed "4 Series") are expected to debut sometime in 2006.

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