BMW 3 Series Coupe & Convertible Review

$108,700 Mrlp
  • Fuel Economy
    5.3L
  • Engine Power
    135kW
  • CO2 Emissions
    140g
  • ANCAP Rating
    5Stars

The original BMW 327 from 1937 was the model that started the Coupe revolution. Nearly 80 years later the German powerhouse is still at it.

BMW has long been the innovator of elegant Coupes and Convertibles. The original BMW 327 Coupe (1937) was the car that started it all and nearly 80 years later the German powerhouse is still at it. This time round the company has updated its BMW 3 Series Coupe and Convertible range with a minor facelift, more choices and standard equipment plus improved performance, fuel economy and handling.

To celebrate the arrival of the updated 3 Series Coupe & Convertible, BMW brought the automotive media to Brisbane for a drive through the now famous Mount Nebo & Glorious roads.

At first glance it might be hard to tell the updated 3 Series Coupe or Convertible apart from the original. The cosmetic changes are very subtle but still help improve the model's already good looks.

From the front you can notice a wider and more emphasised kidney grille, a new 'eyebrow' around the headlights as well as daytime white glow LED 'light-rings' (optional) that together showcase a cleaner and more prominent front-end.

Enhancements to the rear are just as subtle. Thanks to clever design enhancements the rear-end now looks sharper and more modern. New completely red L-shaped taillights with LED lights add that little extra bit of personality to the design.

Looks aside the improvements to the 3 Series Coupe & Convertible are significant. Before we get into technicalities and figures, it's best to first focus on driveabilitiy.

6am Thursday morning. Brisbane's Fortitude Valley is a busy place to be. From the Emprioum Hotel our task was to head on to the Inner-City Bypass and towards Mount Nebo and Glorious road. Challenging roads I've driven with great excitement perhaps over 500 times.

First up, a BMW 335i Convertible equipped with a seven-speed Sports Automatic Double-Clutch Transmission (DCT). Thankfully BMW has changed the steering-wheel paddle shift system so it's now in line with the M3, one side to change up and one side to change down. Simple.
If you haven't driven a 335i before, you'll be pleasantly surprised just how good it sounds. We pulled over right before the start of Mount Nebo road and prepared for our drive.

D was selected and Sport mode engaged. You can keep it in full automatic mode and it will do a great job holding gears and shifting at the appropriate time. However you do get a better sense of control when you take care of the gearshifts yourself.

Take off in first, keep your foot planted and the 3.0-litre engine screams as it catapults you from 0-100km/h in 5.7 seconds. The first section of Mount Nebo road consists of short straights with sudden left and right near-blind turns. Perfect to test the car's handling characteristics. The M-sport suspension results in a stable and consistent ride through tight corners and power delivery from the new single-turbo engine (more on this later) is smooth and relentless.

BMW has replaced the coil spring valve dampers with disc spring valve technology. If that makes no sense to you, it essentially means the new Coupe and Convertibles enjoy a better rebound rate on our poor roads. Hence the ride is more compliant with improved noise comfort without affecting handling dynamics. Suspension improvements are a standard update on all new 3-Series Coupe and Convertible models except the 335i Convertible when equipped with the M-sport suspension.

Perhaps the biggest change to the lineup is the move away from the twin-turbo engine of the original 335i to a single twin-scroll turbo setup (same changes on the 135i). Power and torque figures remain the same at 225 kW and 400 Nm. 0-100km/h times are 5.4 seconds (Coupe variants optioned with the DCT – 5.5 seconds for manual).

One other major change to the 335i is the addition of M Sports package as standard equipement. Both 335i Coupe and Convertible variants gain 19” Double–spoke light-alloy wheel, M Sport door sills, a Sports multi-function steering wheel, M Sport suspension plus Comfort Access System, LED light elements and USB audio interface. If you don't want your 335i to handle like an BMW M3, you can delete the suspension upgrade as a non-cost option).

You can easily hold a conversation at 100km/h without shouting with the roof removed (you can also do this as much higher speeds, not that we tested, of course). The swap from the 335i Convertible to the Coupe occurred at the half way point between Mount Nebo and Glorious. The Coupe behaves similarly to its convertible brother except that it feels a little more complaint (thanks to the new damper technology). From one twisty corner to another the 335i is capable of keeping up with pretty much anything in its price range ($116,700*). Driving down the hills of Mount Glorious the car's brake systems continue to remain strong even after extended heavy use. You can pretty much trust the 335i to come hot into a corner, brake hard, turn smoothly and accelerate out without ever feeling out of place.

Next up – 320d Coupe. Both coupe and convertible diesels are now available in a six-speed manual transmission with auto start-stop technology (engine switches off when not moving and turns on as soon as the clutch is engaged). Of course you can always opt out for the 6-speed automatic.

The 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbocharged diesel now puts out 135 kW (5 kW more than before) and 380Nm of torque (+30 Nm). Meanwhile fuel economy for the 320d Coupe has come down to 4.7L/100km for the manual or 5.1 for the automatic (320d Convertible figures : 5.1/5.6L /100km).

Handling wise the lack of M-sport suspension is instantly recognisable. It's a softer ride, without a doubt more comfortable but cornering requires more a little more attention. Thankfully the 320d is not made to drive up twisty mountain roads as part of its day to day life. It's a car that is elegant in its design and extremely well mannered given it's making use of a fuel efficient 2.0-litre diesel.

The improved engine delivers power across the rev-range and without audible complaints. It will rev cleanly to the rev-limiter and even your grandmother will easily be able to operate the six-speed manual transmission.

The Coupe starts at just $65,600 with the convertible starting from $78,500. That puts it head to head against the Lexus IS250c which I reviewed earlier this year. Despite being in direct competition the 320d feels like an entirely different car. It has more go and sporty feel to it than the IS250C (and for that reason alone it would be my pick of the two) but may appeal to different buyers altogether given the Lexus' more grown-up feel.

Interior wise BMW has always been known to make comfortable sporty and well designed cabins and the 3 Series remains true to that. The seats hold you tight around corners and the steering-wheels are as usual some of the best in the business. There are some new colours and upholstery options to pick from as part of the update.

The Germans are not known for their generosity when it comes to standard equipment but with competition heating up, times may be changing.

Standard features for the 320d include cruise control, climate control, heated exterior mirrors, partial electric seat adjustment for driver and front passenger (Coupé) and fully electric seat adjustment with memory function (Convertible). BMW Professional Radio system with MP3 compatible single slot CD player and USB audio interface should really be upgraded to the Business navigation system as part of the Innovation package.

Other standard features include Bi-Xenon headlights, front and rear fog lights, automatic windscreen wipers, 17-inch light alloy wheels and electrically operated 3 part steel roof (Convertible). Move up to the 325i and 330d and you gain full electric sports front seats with lumbar support (330d only) and memory, Comfort Access System, Business Navigation System, cruise control with brake function and DSC with extended functions, with the 330d also featuring front Park Distance Control and the HiFi Loudspeaker system as standard.

Being a German made car (the sedan is made in South Africa), all 3 Series Coupe and Convertible vehicles come with all the safety equipment that can be crammed in, as standard. If it's one thing the Europeans don't skim on, it's safety. Dual front, front side and full length side curtain airbags, Dynamic Stability Control (DSC), Antilock Braking System (ABS) with brake assist and Cornering Brake Control (CBC), active front head restraints, Rain Sensor and rear Park Distance Control (PDC) and more is all standard.

Option packs worth ticking include the Innovations Package and the M Sport Package if you're an enthusiast but not willing to go for a 335i.

BMW says around one third of its sales will come from the 320d, one third from the 335i and the rest split up between the other models.

Although the BMW M3 Coupe and Convertible were not available for a drive, both variants also gain the cosmetic changes and minor fuel economy improvements. The updated M3 now comes with auto start-stop function when optioned with DCT (a first on any BMW). It's expected that the new BMW X3 will be the first of many BMWs to come with an traditional automatic gearbox capable of "start-stop" technology.

After a near four hour drive through tight mountain roads and country towns. It's fair to say the updated BMW 3 Series Coupe and Convertible range have easily carried the BMW tradition of sporty fun natured vehicles forward. If you're in the market for a luxury coupe or convertible, it would be foolish not to try out BMW's latest offerings. The mid-life update means the vehicles will remain new for at least another two-three years (3 Series sedan will get the major update first).

The New BMW 3 Series Coupé and Convertible Australian Pricing:





























Coupé Convertible
320d $65,600* $78,500*
325i $84,900* $98,700*
330d $94,700* $107,700*
335i Sport $116,700* $129,900*

2011 BMW 3 Series Coupe & Convertible Engine Specifications:

BMW 320d Coupé:

  • Four-cylinder in-line turbo diesel engine
  • Capacity: cc 1,995
  • Max output: kW/rmp 135/4,000
  • Max torque: Nm/ rmp 380 /1,900-2,750
  • Acceleration 0-100km/h sec 7.5 (7.6)
  • Top speed: 237km (235)
  • Average fuel consumption (to EU Comb Cycle): l/100km 4.7 (5.3)
  • CO2 emissions to EU standard: g/km 125 (140)

BMW 320d Convertible:
  • Four-cylinder in-line turbo diesel engine
  • Capacity: cc 1,995
  • Max output: kW/rpm 135/4,000
  • Max torque: Nm/rpm 380/1,900-2,750
  • Acceleration 0-100km/h sec 8.3 (8.4)
  • Top speed: km/h 228 (226)
  • Average fuel consumption (to EU Comb Cycle): l/100km 5.1 (5.6)
  • CO2 emissions to EU standard: g/km 135 (149)

BMW 325i Coupé:
  • Six-cylinder in-line engine
  • Capacity: cc 2497
  • Max output: kW/rpm 160/6,500
  • Max torque: Nm/rpm 250/2,750-4,250
  • Acceleration 0-100km/h sec 0-100km/h sec 6.7 (7.1)
  • Top speed: km/h 250 (250)
  • Average fuel consumption (to EU Comb Cycle): l/100km 8.7 (9.1)
  • CO2 emissions to EU standard: g/km 203 (212)

BMW 325i Convertible:
  • Six-cylinder in-line engine
  • Capacity: cc 2,497
  • Max output: kW/rpm 160/6,500
  • Max torque: Nm/rpm 250/2,750-4,000
  • Acceleration 0-100km/h sec: 7.8 (8.4)
  • Top speed: km/h 242 (240)
  • Average fuel consumption (to EU Comb Cycle): 9.2 (9.5)
  • CO2 emissions to EU standard: g/km 214 (222)

BMW 330d Coupé: Six-cylinder in-line turbo diesel engine
  • Capacity: cc 2993
  • Max output: 180/4000
  • Max torque: 520/1750-3000
  • Acceleration 0-100km/h sec 6.1
  • Top speed: 250
  • Average fuel consumption (to EU Comb Cycle): 6.2
  • CO2 emissions to EU standard:164

BMW 330d Convertible: Six-cylinder in-line turbo diesel engine
  • Capacity: cc 2993
  • Max output: kW/rpm 180/4000
  • Max torque: Nm/rpm 520/1750-3000
  • Acceleration 0-100km/h sec 6.5
  • Top speed: km/h 250
  • Average fuel consumption (to EU Comb Cycle): l/100km 6.4
  • CO2 emissions to EU standard: g/km 170

BMW 335i M Sport Coupé
  • Capacity: cc 2979
  • Max output: kW/rpm 225/5800
  • Max torque: Nm/rpm 400/1200-5000
  • Acceleration 0-100km/h sec 0-100km/h sec 5.5 (5.4)
  • Top speed: km/h 250 (250)
  • Average fuel consumption (to EU Comb Cycle) 8.4 (8.4)
  • CO2 emissions to EU standard: g/km 196 (196)

BMW 335i M Sport Convertible
  • Capacity: cc 2979
  • Max output: kW/rpm 225/5800
  • Max torque: Nm/rpm 400/1200-5000
  • Acceleration 0-100km/h sec: 0-100km/h sec 5.8 (5.7)
  • Top speed: km/h 250 (250)
  • Average fuel consumption (to EU Comb Cycle): 8.8 (8.8)
  • CO2 emissions to EU standard: g/km 205

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