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BMW 3 Series coupe and convertible 2010 review

What you get more of in the convertible is weight and stares from other road users.

The expression "less is more" is never truer than with two-door coupe and convertible versions of a sedan such as BMW's new 3 Series models. You lose two doors and a roof, but you end up paying more. In the coupe you also lose passenger space, while in the convertible you not only lose passenger space, but also chassis rigidity, cargo space, handling ability, self-respect...

What you get more of in the convertible is weight and stares from other road users who might tell you you're a tosser, but secretly are envious. At least with BMW's metal folding roof you get more rigidity, security and sound proofing than with fabric roofs, and when they are up it looks more like a coupe, so people won't think you are too soft to put the top down. What you get more of in the coupe is simply sex appeal.

VALUE

No one who buys a coupe or convertible really thinks of value, otherwise they'd never pay more for less. Prices for the coupe and convertible versions of the updated 3 Series have risen as much as $1440, but there is a host of new gear on board.

The premium over the sedan has always been big. Now you pay nearly $10,000 more for the coupe and more than $22,000 extra for the convertible. This compares with, say Audi, where it's about $6000 more for the coupe and about $20,000 extra for the convertible although it's not exactly comparing apples with apples because of spec differences, but you get the idea. Coupes and convertibles are decisions of the heart, not the head.

It should be noted that the 335i models now come standard with the M Sport package which was previously a $2760 option. For those who don't like the firm suspension, it can be deleted at no extra cost. That's big of them!

While options can often be expensive when chosen separately, BMW offers packages that make it cheaper. You can save more than 25 per cent with the Innovations Package for the 320d, 325i and 330d which includes a range of LED light features, adaptive headlights and satellite navigation, while the 325i and 330d also get voice control anti-dazzle mirrors and a better audio system.

TECHNOLOGY

BMW wants your heartfelt coupe/convertible decision to be as practical as can be, so the seat belt is handed to you by an automatic robotic arm so you don't have to reach a mile behind you to grab it because of the longer doors.

This is just one of the many technological marvels of these cars, not the least of which is the clever folding metal roof that deploys in 20-odd seconds. There is also a vast array of driver aids available to keep the car in control.

The new 320d models are available with a manual transmission with stop-start technology that switches the engine off when stationary to save fuel.

BMW claims it delivers fuel savings on the 320d manual coupe of 0.8 litres per 100km, despite an extra 5kW of power and 30Nm of torque (135kW and 380Nm).

The top-of-the range 335i gets the new single twin-scroll turbo replacing the previous two separate turbos. While power and torque remain the same at 225kW and 400Nm, fuel economy is 8 per cent better.

STYLING

The coupe has a certain grace that the convertible with its top up just can't match because the rear part of the roof is slightly truncated, abruptly ending the flowing lines. Styling changes over the previous model are minimal but inside Dakota oyster-coloured leather is now standard.

There are three new metallic paint options lifting the choices to 15, an extra interior trim choice (bamboo grain anthracite) making it six options and nine wheel designs - four of them new - across three wheel sizes (17, 18 and 19-inch).

DRIVING

Over a couple of weeks I drove the 320d manual coupe and the 335i seven-speed auto convertible. While the driver and passenger can expect the usual features and comforts, the rear seat passengers will feel like second-class citizens. Adults will have difficulty getting in, for a start, and when they do they'll feel cramped and claustrophobic.

And while more compliant dampers have been used in the M Sport suspension top provide a less aggressive ride up front, rear seat passengers bear the brunt of the pain over rough roads. It's even worse in the convertible as it doesn't get the new compliant dampers. The convertible needs them most to reduce the vicious scuttle shake.

The 320d engine is a lusty performer at low revs which allows driver to hustle along quite smartly and still feel calm at the end of the journey.

However, it's the bristling and fizzy excitement of the 335i engine that will attract most buyers. Surely you don't buy a coupe or convertible and then turn all practical and opt for the diesel.

BMW 320d convertible and 335i coupe

Price: $78,500 (320d convertible); $116,700 (335i M Sport coupe + $3500 7-spd double-clutch)
Engines: 1995cc 4-cyl. turbo diesel (320d); 2993cc straight 6 petrol (335i)
Transmissions: 6-spd man. w auto stop-start (320d), 7-spd DCT (335i)

Pricing guides

$14,990
Based on 97 cars listed for sale in the last 6 months
Lowest Price
$8,500
Highest Price
$38,800

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
330d 3.0L, Diesel, 6 SP AUTO $16,900 – 23,540 2010 BMW 3 Series 2010 330d Pricing and Specs
320d Executive Touring 2.0L, Diesel, 6 SP AUTO $11,300 – 16,610 2010 BMW 3 Series 2010 320d Executive Touring Pricing and Specs
335i 3.0L, PULP, 6 SP MAN $21,900 – 29,700 2010 BMW 3 Series 2010 335i Pricing and Specs
320i Touring Executive 2.0L, PULP, 6 SP AUTO $9,100 – 13,640 2010 BMW 3 Series 2010 320i Touring Executive Pricing and Specs
Pricing Guide

$8,500

Lowest price, based on 80 car listings in the last 6 months

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