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      08-16-2007, 09:33 AM   #1

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BMW Readies M3 Variants

BMW Readies M3 Variants

Written by: Autocar staff Munich, Germany – 8/15/2007

BMW will expand the M3 range in 2008 with a sedan and a hardtop convertible, and Autocar has caught them both undergoing final tests.

The biggest issue in the process of turning the 3-series convertible into an M3 is weight. Because of the extra reinforcement needed to make up for the lack of a roof and the weight of the roof motors and folding mechanism, a 330i convertible weighs a considerable 500lb more than a 330i coupe.

But despite some advanced weight loss techniques (such as a V8 engine that weighs less than the six-cylinder it replaces), an M3 coupe is just 14lb less than a 330i coupe. It is unclear how BMW will be able to cut the convertible’s hefty curbweight.

Cutting weight will be less of an issue with the sedan, as in 330i guise it weighs 1.5tons, 35lb more than an M3.

The styling of both cars is a mix of M3 and regular sedan and convertible. Both use the M3 coupe’s front end, while the cabrio retains the standard car’s rear.

At the rear, both cars get four tailpipes, and the sedan gains a discreet lip spoiler on the trunklid. Wheel arches are flared to accommodate the M3’s wider tracks, and the cars also share the same styling around the exhaust and rear valance.

We’re expecting the two cars in 2008 — the sedan in March and the cabrio in September, to tie in with the Geneva and Paris motor shows.

There are rumors of a possible M3 Touring wagon, though BMW hasn’t confirmed such a car. Audi’s success with fast wagons prompted BMW to make a wagon version of the current M5, so it may be tempted into trying the same idea with the M3. We certainly hope so.

It’s also possible that all future M3 variants, not just the coupe, could get the lightweight CSL treatment.

A stripped-out CSL coupe is being rushed to market, possibly as early as the end of 2007, but the boss of BMW’s M division, Gerhard Richter, has hinted that the other body styles will also be offered in the lighter, more focused form.

Dan Stevens/Autocar magazine.
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