December 30, 2006 Retractable hardtops are fast becoming part of every major automotive range – having the option to turn your sensible and quiet sedan into an open-top sports car at the press of a button might turn out to be an appealing functionality capable of growing a sizeable share of the market. The latest recipient of this capability is BMW’s fourth generation open four-seater 3 Series Convertible which will be shown to the public for the first time at the 100th North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit on 7 January 2007. The new retractable hardtop closes in 23 seconds and closes in 22, offering open top motoring in the summer months and interior comfort in inclement weather and at high speeds. Boasting an advanced chassis and body with torsional stiffness exceeding any previous BMW Convertible, the range-topping 335i Convertible is powered by an all-aluminium 3.0-litre straight-six with twin-turbos and direct gasoline injection, giving it a maximum output of 225 kW/306 hp (300 hp in the USA).
The three-piece lightweight steel plate roof structure comes with a fully covered roofliner and, with its large windows, offers much better all-round visibility than in a car with a soft roof, over and above optimised sound insulation. When open, the roof elements come to rest in an ingenious compact arrangement above one another in the rear of the car, leaving an ample 210 litres or 7.35 cubic feet of storage space even when driving with the roof down.
An intelligent throughloading concept offers additional storage capacities, enabling the driver and passengers to use the rear of the car together with the rear seat backrest folding down in one section, a large opening to the luggage compartment, and the optionally available ski and transport sack modules in many ways to accommodate large and bulky items of luggage.
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