New BMW 3 Series Coupe Review
The old 3 Series Coupe was quite obviously a member of the 3 Series family and as such looked much the same as its siblings apart from the fact that it only had two doors. Not so with the new 2006 3 Series Coupe.
BMW have designed and created an individual character when it comes to the new 3 Series Coupe, gone are the days when this was just a two door 3 Series, the new Coupe draws its looks from the more stereotypical BMW Coupe design, long wheelbase, short overhangs, the cockpit set more to the rear overlooking the lengthy bonnet, all the ingredients that give a stylish and elegant Coupe.
In the cockpit of the Coupe, the seating position is slightly lower than in its 3 series siblings, giving plenty of headroom even though it has a lower roofline. New lightweight materials are used in the body construction of the Coupe and although previously, tailored blanks have been used, with an increase or decrease in their thickness depending on the rigidity required, the new 3 Series Coupe goes one step further by incorporating plastics into its construction. As a result of this the new lightweight plastic front wings and magnesium alloy engine unit combine to reduce the overall weight of the Coupe and on average the Coupe is 10 kg's lighter than its saloon equivalent.
Boot space is obviously slightly more restricted with the Coupe, but it still has a 440 litre capacity and will accommodate the obligatory two sets of golf clubs.
Entry level on the new 3 Series Coupe will be the 325i SE, this 2.5 litre inline 6 cylinder powered variant will take you from 0 - 62mph in 6.9 seconds and has a top speed of 153 mph delivered through a six speed manual gear box. However with the combination of Valvetronic technology and Vanos variable valve timing the 3 Series Coupe returns a respectable 33.6 mpg on the combined cycle.
The other model offered by BMW at launch in the 3 Series Coupe range is however where BMW have shown their prowess. A brand new engine powers the Coupe 335i SE, with a power output similar to a V8, this car is nonetheless propelled by an inline six cylinder twin turbo charged unit that weighs approximately 70 kg less than the eight cylinder engine of comparable performance.
This is the most powerful BMW engine not to wear an M badge and this is achieved by the use of two smaller turbo chargers each supplying compressed air to three cylinders, allowing the engine to react more quickly to changes in the throttle position and reducing the threat of the dreaded turbo lag. Add to this the use of Piezo crystal injectors that are housed centrally between the inlet and exhaust valves, these deliver the exact amount of atomised fuel, ensuring all the mixture is burnt, this in turn aids in the cooling of the compression chamber and with cooler air having a higher density the compression ratio has increased accordingly.
So what does all this engine technology mean to you the driver? In short a 0 - 62 mph time of 5.5 seconds, an electronically limited top speed of 155 mph, a massive power output of 306 bhp and the bonus of 29.7 mpg on the combined cycle. As with the 325i SE the 335i SE Coupe transmits its power through a six speed close ratio manual gearbox although you have the option on all Coupe models of the six speed auto transmission with paddle changers set slightly behind the steering wheel.
All Coupe models have plenty of passive and active safety systems including six airbags as standard and BMW's DSC+ Traction control system which comprises of an anti lock braking system (ABS), automatic stability control (ASC+T), brake drying, brake fade compensation, brake pre-tensioning, cornering brake control (CBC), dynamic brake control (DBC), dynamic traction control (DTC), elactronic brake force distribution (EBD), engine drag torque control (MSR), hill start assistant and soft-stop.
After the initial launch of the 325i SE and the 335i SE the 3 Series Coupe range will be added to over the following months, first to be added to the range will be the 3 series Coupe 330i and as with the 325i SE the 330i will use an inline six cylinder normally aspirated petrol engine that uses magnesium alloy in the engine construction. Developing 272 bhp the 330i will accelerate from 0 - 62 mph in a time of 6.1 seconds and have a top speed limited to 155 mph. The combined cycle fuel economy figures come out at a respectable 32.1 mpg.
Launching alongside the 330i will be the 330d Coupe, performance and economy are combined on the 330d, you still shoot from 0 - 62 mph in just 6.6 seconds but get a staggering 43.5 mpg on the combined cycle.
Details of the 320i and 320d entry-level Coupe models will be released by BMW at a later date.
With near perfect weight distribution across the front and rear of the Coupe, rear wheel drive and a host of electronic gadgets designed to keep you pointing in the right direction the BMW 3 Series Coupe is everything you would expect and more.
Like the looks of the BMW 3 Series Coupe, why not check out, the Citroen C5, the Peugeot 407, the Audi A4, the Toyota Avensis, the Mazda 6, the Renault Laguna, or the Ford Mondeo.
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