January 18, 2008 The letter M in the model designation of a BMW car has always meant something special, and the newly announced M3 Convertible is no exception – at its heart is a 309 kW 4.0-litre V8 engine, with a focussed sports suspension system and the choice of a six-speed manual or the new seven-speed M double-clutch transmission with Drivelogic to put the horses on the ground. Other manufacturers might create a sports model with a bigger motor and stiffer suspension but the M3 is completely reengineered – indeed, only the doors, three-piece steel roof, boot lid, windows and rear lights are interchangeable with other 3 Series Convertibles.
From the striking front end with its M3-specific aluminium powerdome bonnet to the powerfully flared wheel arches, air intake gills in the front side panels, 18-inch wheels and rear air dam with diffuser punctuated by dual M tailpipes, the M3 Convertible is designed to make a clear on-road statement.
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Containing all the appeal of an open-air four-seat sports car, the BMW M3 Convertible is also devastatingly powerful with its light alloy V8 engine, as well as lithe and tenacious on the road thanks to its M-specific suspension and superbly balanced, rear-wheel drive configuration.
The braking system, like that of the M3 Coupé, comprises vented, cross-drilled discs at front and rear, designed to minimise weight while minimising thermal loads under heavy use.
Equipped with BMW's new M double-clutch transmission incorporating Drivelogic, the M3 Convertible is capable of accelerating from zero to 100km/h in a sizzling 5.1 seconds yet returns an EU composite cycle fuel consumption figure of 12.3 L/100 km. The M3 Convertible is also available with manual six-speed transmission.
The driver is able to choose from three selectable control maps in the optional EDC Electronic Damper Control system that enable the M3 Convertible to adapt to a wide variety of driving conditions while still retaining the tenacious road grip, poise and balance that are hallmarks of BMW M cars.
In addition to the BMW electronic systems that work seamlessly to provide outstanding levels of safety and on-road predictability, including ABS, ASC, CBC and DSC, the M3 Convertible also delivers power to the road in a controlled and measured way via the variable M Differential Lock.
The M3 Convertible's three-piece lightweight steel roof opens or retracts in 22 seconds to provide the best of both worlds in a structure offering extremely high standards of torsional stiffness and passenger safety.
The M3 Convertible is fitted with dual front and head-thorax side airbags as well as central safety electronics that control the restraint systems, including a roll bar behind the rear seats that is automatically activated in the event of a rollover.
The new M3 4.0-litre V8 utilises BMW systems such as a new low-pressure version of double VANOS camshaft control to maximise output and emissions control while returning exceptional fuel economy for such a high-power engine.
The M3 V8 also has race-engine style separate butterflies for each cylinder that help give instant, smooth throttle response at all speeds.
The BMW M3 Convertible might be track-capable, but it doesn’t lack for passenger amenities.
The upgraded, high quality interior is available with a wide range of customisation options, innovative colours and materials and an optional BMW Individual High End audio system with a nine-channel amplifier and 16 high-power speakers.
Four separate seats ensure that each passenger is cosseted in the maximum possible comfort, while the retractable steel hardtop not only gives Coupé looks but also offers Coupé-style security in all weather conditions. And, with the roof down, the delightful sound track of the delicious M3 V8 is there to be savoured even more.
It is practical too, with a boot capable of holding as much as 350 litres of luggage with the retractable roof up, or 210 litres when folded down.
As the fourth generation of both the BMW Convertible and the BMW M3, the new M3 Convertible represents a dramatic upshift in what can be expected of a versatile, irresistible open-air luxury sports car.View gallery - 32 images