BMW's 3-Series Gets Power Retractable Hardtop Convertible
- October 24, 2006
- Automobile Cool News, BMW, New Model Introductions
- Posted by George Peterson
- Comments Off on BMW's 3-Series Gets Power Retractable Hardtop Convertible
Though BMW does not officially pull the wraps off the latest 3-Series convertible until Detroit’s North American International Auto Show in January 2007 and sales do not begin until spring or summer 2007, the company has released some early photos and information on the European spec cars. VehicleVoice and AutoPacific are here to bring them to you.
EDITOR’S NOTE: The fact that the 3-Series Cabriolet becomes a retractable hardtop is definitely the correct move in today’s competitive convertible market. In the past, with the 6-Series Cabriolet for instance, BMW pooh-poohed the idea of a hardtop convertible. It would weigh too much and be too complicated and mess with the weight distribution of the car. Fast forward a few years to NOW, and voila a retractable hardtop makes sense.
BMW joins the ranks of power retractable hardtop convertibles with the new 3-Series convertible, a move that was necessary to stay competitive. Even the Mazda MX-5 Miata offers an optional power retractable hardtop now. While Mazda boasts a 12-second time to drop MX-5’s top, BMW claims a competitive 22 seconds for the new 3-Series top.
The 3-Series convertible competes against the likes of Volvo C70 and Volkswagen Eos, and both offer retractable hardtops. Hardtops provide for better rearward visibility, with a larger glass area and smaller C-pillar than conventional softtops, and more comfortable year-round drivability. Though once upon a time deemed too expensive in most cases, costs seem to be coming down and these are fast becoming required for convertibles of all sizes.
300HP for 335i Convertible
Until a new M3 convertible arrives, the 300HP turbocharged 3.0L I6 335i will be the cream of the 3-Series convertible crop on both sides of the ocean. At launch, we will see the 330i version in the States along with a 328i, sporting the 3.0L in-line six-cylinder engine in 230HP normally aspirated form. These are the same engines as offered in the coupe, though the convertible does not offer AWD. As is true of most European models, the convertible will offer a much wider engine range in markets outside of the States. The standard transmission is a six-speed manual transmission, with an optional Steptronic six-speed automatic that has been updated and gets paddle shifters.
Long List of Standard Equipment
Convertibles carry a price premium over their fixed-roof brethren, and usually also get more standard equipment. The 2008 3-Series convertible is no exception. One of the cool options will be the ability to drop the top using a remote. That option is bundled with Comfort Access, which turns the BMW remote into a smart key for unlocking/locking the car and starting it. Xenon adaptive headlamps are standard, as is an upgraded version of BMW’s iDrive system with eight programmable keys surrounding the controller.
The convertible also brings BMW’s latest Dynamic Stability Control system to the 3-Series range. The system enhances braking aids with brake drying, brake standby, brake fade compensation, corner braking control, and start-off assist (for hill starts).
Many convertibles launched in recent times also manage more effectively the interior heating and cooling, compensating for when the vehicle is operated with the top down. BMW is no exception. Though optional, the automatic air conditioning system adds a Convertible mode that uses the exterior temperature sensor for adjusting blower intensity rather than the interior temperature sensor. When the roof is closed, the system operates as normal. BMW also treats the convertible’s leather upholstery with a special pigment that is supposed to keep the seats and armrest cool even when the top is left down in the sun by reflecting the infra-red radiation that comes along with sunshine.
22 Seconds, by Remote
The series of photos below gives you an idea of the process, and indicate that it can be initiated by an optional remote control.