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News - BMW - 3 Series - 328Ci convertible

BMW chop-top a chip off coupe block

Classy convertible: BMW's new 3 Series convertible bears a strong resemblance to its coupe sibling.

BMW has provided the first official glimpse of its new drop-top 3 Series

18 Nov 1999

BMW has released the first official pictures of the new 3 Series convertible, due to be launched in Europe next March.

The all-new chop-top is likely to make its Australian debut towards the end of next year.

In Europe, the new convertible range will consist of 318Ci, 323Ci and 328Ci models but only the last of these will be offered here. An M3 convertible may follow in due course.

The 328Ci is powered by BMW's turbine-like 2.8-litre, in-line six-cylinder engine which generates 142kW at 5500rpm and 280Nm at 3500rpm.

Transmission choices consist of a five-speed manual or BMW's five-speed Steptronic automatic. The convertible will feature the same driver aids as its coupe and sedan siblings, including ASC+T (Automatic Stability Control + Traction) and DSC II (Dynamic Stability Control).

Pricing is yet to be announced but expect to pay at least $105,000 for the base model 328Ci convertible.

The newcomer will compete against the likes of the Volvo C70 T5 convertible and Mercedes-Benz CLK230 Kompressor Cabrio.

Although identical to the 3 Series Coupe from the front bumper to the windscreen, the drop-top features a squared-off rear end that sets it apart from its sibling.

BMW is at pains to point out that the convertible's clean lines are not tarnished by a roll-over bar - or hoops, as fitted to the Z3.

The new roofless 3 Series incorporates "pop-up" bars that activate within milliseconds if the on-board computer senses an imminent rollover. This technology was pioneered in the Mercedes-Benz 500SL, launched here in 1990.

The soft-top incorporates a glass rear window, in contrast to the clear plastic pane used in the current model. BMW says the glass window offers greater scratch resistance as well as improved demisting performance.

A further enhancement to the hood design is the incorporation of increased padding to reduce wind noise.

Raising and lowering the electrically-operated roof is achieved in the same way as the current model but the new model features a storage cartridge that can be folded flat when the hood is raised.

Consequently, boot space is increased from 230 litres to 300 litres with the roof up.

Another improvement is the incorporation of front seatbelts that are fixed to the seats, as opposed to the side sills. This means rear passengers can climb in and out without risk of tripping over the belts.

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