All new BMW 3 Series Coupé models come with a close ratio six-speed manual gearbox as standard. Those drivers who prefer the convenience of an automatic transmission, but the driver involvement of a manual, should opt for BMW’s new automatic gearbox option. Using an innovative torque converter and software set up, the new automatic gearbox offers a 40 per cent improvement in the response time to throttle inputs and a gear-shift time nearly half that of a conventional automatic transmission. Whenever a driver wants to take control of gear changes a pair of selection paddles located behind the steering wheel can be used to change gears.
Practical and ergonomic interior
Internally, all controls fall easily and ergonomically to hand. The seatbelt is now also delivered to the driver courtesy of a feeder arm integrated into the B-pillar. This only operates on the passenger side when the airbag’s seat detector recognises an occupant.
Both driver and passenger in the 3 Series Coupé sit comparatively lower in the car than they do in its Saloon counterpart. This ensures the maximum headroom for occupants, even with the lower roofline of the Coupé, and also gives occupants a safe, cosseted feeling in the car. Practicality is also a priority with the new 3 Series Coupé offering up to 440 litres of boot space in conjunction with convenient storage solutions in the interior.
Chassis and body - a sound basis
In common with all BMW models, the new 3 Series Coupé benefits from a near-perfect 50:50 front to rear weight distribution and rear-wheel drive for the optimum in driving dynamics. A double-joint tie bar front axle with spring struts made almost entirely from aluminium and a five-link rear axle work in combination with a rigid body structure to provide very high levels of stability and comfort.
The 3 Series Coupé also comes as standard with Dynamic Stability Control+, BMW’s latest traction control system. With DSC+, the highest levels of traction and stability are complemented by the latest comfort and safety systems including brake pads that are dried in wet weather conditions and brakes that are applied harder when any possible brake fade is detected. This ensures the car remains under maximum control at all times.
To enhance the chassis and suspension set up, the 3 Series Coupé comes with a rack and pinion steering system as standard. Customers can also opt for BMW’s innovative Active Steering system that varies the steering ratio as a proportion of road speed. The Active Steering system additionally links into the DSC+ system, adding small amounts of steering correction without driver input when oversteer is detected.
Extensive safety systems
All of the passive safety systems of the new Coupé are controlled by a restraint and support system. The six standard airbags, seatbelt pre-tensioners and belt force limiters are all activated by the type and severity of a collision.
Recognising that the majority of accidents occur in the dark, the new 3 Series Coupé comes with xenon headlights as standard. Customers wanting to improve visibility yet further can specify BMW’s Adaptive Headlights that, using the steering angle, aim in the direction the car is travelling rather than the direction it is pointing.
Drivers following a 3 Series Coupé might also notice BMW’s Brake Force Display at work. When the driver of the Coupé needs to execute an emergency stop, or when the ABS system is in operation, the driver behind is warned of the danger ahead by an additional illumination of the LED brake lights in the lamp cluster.
Future Coupé models
Other engine derivatives start production in September to broaden the 3 Series Coupé range. The new BMW 330i Coupé will develop 272hp from its normally-aspirated 3.0-litre six cylinder engine that, like the smaller engined 325i Coupé, uses magnesium alloy in its engine construction. Acceleration to 62mph is dispatched from standstill in 6.1 seconds with an electronically limited top speed of 155mph. The 330i Coupé still delivers 32.1mpg on the combined cycle.
At the same time as the 330i, the new BMW 330d Coupé will start production, offering 231hp and 500Nm of torque. Performance and economy are both top priorities for the diesel-powered Coupé, with the car posting a zero to 62mph time of 6.6 seconds while still delivering 43.5mpg on the combined cycle.
Details of the future entry-point BMW 320i and 320d Coupé models will be announced at a later date.Published 22 April 2006