The new BMW M3 Convertible, the third derivative and concluding chapter in the current M3 line-up, adds a new dimension to the BMW M ownership experience.
Not only is the new open-topped M3 the first M car to feature a Retractable Hard-Top, it's the first M3 Convertible to be powered by a V8 engine and the first BMW to feature an all-new seven-speed M Double Clutch Transmission (M DCT) as an alternative to the standard six-speed manual gearbox.
Although it possesses the same 4.0-litre, 420hp V8 engine as its M3 CoupÃ© and M3 Saloon siblings, the fourth-generation M3 Convertible is very much a model in its own right. It has been designed from the ground up to be a four-seat convertible with supercar performance that showcases market-leading technology.
The new M3 Convertible produces more than twice the power of the original 1988 model, yet the spirit and design philosophy remains the same. With outputs of 420hp and 400 Nm, and following the precedent set by its forebears, the M3 Convertible engine comfortably breaks the all-important 100hp per litre barrier. What's more, the new model has a power to weight ratio that is over 10 per cent higher than the outgoing E46 M3 Convertible - itself the previous benchmark open-top sports convertible.
EfficientDynamics at the performance end of the market
The new M3 Convertible is both more fuel efficient and produces less C02 than its predecessor, despite this breathtaking performance. The introduction of BMW's EfficientDynamics programme - which features Brake Energy Regeneration, Optimum Shift Indicator and lightweight materials - ensures that both running costs and emissions are kept to a minimum. The M3 Convertible returns 21.9 mpg on the combined cycle - a five per cent improvement over the previous generation model.
A new option for all M3 buyers is BMW's new seven-speed M DCT gearbox. Offering drivers the chance to enjoy seamless gearshifts with no interruption in power delivery, this state-of-the-art transmission is so efficient that it outperforms the manual gearbox car in terms of acceleration, fuel economy and emissions.
Lifting the lid
The new BMW M3 Convertible is the first M car to feature a Retractable Hard-Top as standard. The electro-hydraulic roof is fully automatic and can be lowered in 22 seconds. The M3 Convertible is fitted with SunReflective leather, allowing owners to leave the top down for extended periods without the risk of the seat leather overheating. With SunReflective leather, which was initially developed by BMW Motorrad to keep motorbike riders cool in hot climes, the surface temperature remains up to 20 degrees Celsius lower than conventional leather.
Underneath the M3 Convertible's muscular torso lies a chassis and suspension system tailor-made for the demanding requirements of an open-top car. Torsional rigidity has been significantly improved over the previous model, while the suspension has been fine-tuned to take into account the specific weight distribution of a convertible.
The combination of a strong structure and advanced occupant restraint systems means the BMW M3 Convertible offers the highest possible standards of passive and active safety for occupants. Like the standard 3-Series Convertible, the M3 version is equipped with a rollover sensor system that constantly monitors the vertical and horizontal movement of the car. If the sensors (which are located in the centre of the car, on the B pillars and in the doors) detect that a rollover is imminent, roll bars located behind the rear headrests pop up. At the same time, the front seatbelt pre-tensioners are activated and the head/thorax airbags are deployed.
The M3 Convertible goes on sale in the UK on 26 April 2008, priced at Â£54,760 OTR. BMW expects to sell approximately 900 M3 Convertibles in a full year. This compares to 1,900 M3 CoupÃ©s and 400 M3 Saloons.
Specifications (manual / M DCT gearbox)
Power: 420 hp