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      01-26-2007, 03:22 PM   #1
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BMW Considering Soft Top For M3 Convertible


WINDING ROAD’s inside sources confirm that BMW’s M Group is considering retaining a soft top design for the forthcoming M3 convertible, which would eschew the E92 platform’s latest folding hard top design on the 335i and 330i convertibles.

As BMW launched their new 3-series convertible in Arizona last week (we were there for the launch–look for our test drive in next month’s WINDING ROAD), questions continued to crop up concerning the top’s weight disadvantage. BMW loads extra pounds on the excellent 3-series coupe chassis by moving to Edscha’s folding top design, which is beautiful and quiet by any measure. But, 440 pounds is 440 pounds is 440 pounds.

For the more discriminating M Group within BMW, saving weight will be one of their top priorities. Some keen observers would probably suggest that BMW should instead drop their V-8 engine idea if they really wanted to save weight, but we digress. With the V-8 engine on the way for both the M3 coupe and convertible, weight savings will be especially important. Right now the company is working to develop a special soft top which would withstand the M3’s high speeds while retaining high levels of interior quietness.

Another option on the table at the moment, according to our source, would be to keep the folding hard top concept, but with carbon fiber panels and carbon fiber arm extensions. This would be costly, for sure, but it would achieve a higher level of interior noise reduction without much weight.