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Thursday, May 04, 2006 

All-new BMW 3 Series Coupe: Twin-turbo, xDrive and Direct Injection

Author: Bechara Aboul-Nasr

The vote couldn't come at a better time.

When the new BMW 3 Series sedan was named '2006 World Car of the
Year' at the New York international auto show (14-23 April), by
a jury of 46 international automotive journalists, the all-new
BMW 3 Series Coupe was just about to be announced for a market
launch in September 2006 (Europe and the U.S.).

Despite its close technical ties with the 3 Series sedan
(saloon) and Touring variants, the third generation Coupe model
is even more differentiated than its predecessors. While all 3
Series models use tailored blanks that increase panel thickness
where structural rigidity is needed, and reduces thickness where
it's not, the Coupé variant also uses plastics in construction.
As a result of the lightweight plastic front wings used on the 3
Series Coupé the new car is an average 10kgs lighter than the
Saloon variant.

The BMW 3 Series Coupé marks also the introduction of the first
ever twin-turbo petrol-powered engine in a production BMW, with
gasoline direct injection technology, and the xDrive AWD
availability, for the first time with the Coupé version.


BMW 335i Coupe - The most powerful BMW inline-six cylinder
engine that does not wear an "M" badge, becomes the twin-turbo
3.0-litre engine of the new BMW 335i SE. It develops 306hp (300
hp in US-spec) and 400Nm of torque between 1,300 - 5,000rpm,
accelerating from zero to 100 km/h (62mph) in 5.5 seconds, on
its way to an electronically-limited top speed of 250 km/h

This performance and specific output (102hp per 1000cc) and
torque (133.3 Nm/1000cc) figures are made possible by two
turbochargers, each supplying compressed air to three cylinders

The use of two smaller units allow the turbochargers to react
more quickly to changes in the throttle position all the way to
the 7,000rpm red line while also eliminating the previous
scourge of turbocharged engines - 'turbo lag'.

The turbocharged engine is also considerably lighter than a
normally aspirated powerplant of equal power. In the case of the
335i, the new twin-turbo six-cylinder engine weighs
approximately 70kgs less than an eight-cylinder engine of
corresponding performance. This weight advantage benefits both
fuel economy and weight distribution. BMW's all new
high-precision Direct Injection system also contributes to
performance and economy.

Piezo injectors, located centrally in the combustion chamber
between the inlet and exhaust valves, deliver atomised fuel in a
conical burst into the chamber to ensure a smooth, efficient
burn. Piezo crystal injectors work when an electrical current is
passed through the crystal to create a precise and consistent
fuel delivery.

The exact volume of fuel required is delivered into the
combustion chamber on each cycle guaranteeing that all the
vaporised mixture is burnt. This also helps the combustion
chamber cooling, offering a higher compression ratio (cooling
increases air density) and an average fuel consumption of 29.7
imperial mpg (9.5 litres of petrol per 100 km) on the combined

BMW 325i Coupé - At the launch in September, the new 325i SE
Coupé will form the entry point to the range. Delivering 218hp
and 250Nm of torque from its 2.5-litre in-line six-cylinder
engine, zero to 100 km/h (62mph) is achieved in 6.9 seconds and
the top speed is 246 km/h (153mph). The 325i SE Coupé delivers
33.6mpg (8.4 litres/100 km) on the combined cycle. This is made
possible thanks to BMW's patented VALVETRONIC variable induction
technology and VANOS variable valve timing that, when combined,
balance the requirements of performance and economy.

The 325i Coupé is the latest BMW to benefit from the magnesium -
aluminium composite cylinder block first seen on the BMW 630i in
Spring 2004. The lightweight combination of materials reduces
the overall mass of the car and helps achieve the near-perfect
50:50 front-to-rear weight distribution for improved handling.
The 2.5-litre engine uses an electrically-powered water pump,
saving the partial engine power normally needed to drive a
conventional crankshaft driven unit while reducing engine
heat-up time to improve engine efficiency and occupant comfort
(including cabin heating in winter).

BMW 330i Coupe - 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
100 km/h (62mph) is dispatched from standstill in 6.1 seconds
with an electronically limited top speed of 250 km/h (155mph).
The 330i Coupé delivers 32.1 imperial mpg (8.8 litres / 100 km)
on the combined cycle.

BMW 330d - At the same time as the 330i, the new BMW 330d Coupé
will start production, offering 231hp and 500Nm of torque. The
diesel-powered Coupé tops the 0-100 km/h (62mph) in 6.6 seconds
while still delivering 43.5mpg (6.49 litres/100 km) on the
combined cycle.

BMW 328i Coupe - In the U.S. market, the 335i Coupe will be
joined by a 230 horsepower 328i Coupe. The normally-aspirated
inline six-cylinder engine also takes advantage of BMW's
weight-saving blend of magnesium and aluminium for the
crankcase, the fully variable Valvetronic valve management, the
electric coolant pump and a fully controlled oil pump.

The 328i Coupe offers 230 horsepower and 271 Nm (200 lb-ft) of
torque. With 0-60 mph (96.5 km/h) acceleration in 6.2 seconds,
this new "entry-level" Coupe is quicker than the previous
top-of-the-line 330Ci Coupe.

Details of two future entry-point BMW 320i and 320d Coupé models
will be announced at a later date.

Gearboxes - BMW 3 Series Coupé models come standard with a close
ratio six-speed manual gearbox. As an option, BMW's new
six-speed automatic gearbox uses an innovative torque converter
and software set up to offer 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. A pair of
selection paddles located behind the steering wheel can be used
to change gears.


Interior - Integrated in the B-pillar, the seat belt is
automatically "delivered" to the driver and front passenger once
they close the door and the key has been inserted into the
ignition slot. Connected to the seat occupancy detector, the
passenger-side belt feeder arm is only activated when the front
passenger has actually taken a seat. With the belt delivery unit
housed within the side panels, this new system does not impair
the elegant look of the interior.

Controls for the climate control as well as the audio and
navigation systems are within easy reach of the front passenger,
and a storage compartment fits between the rear seats.

With the lower roofline of the Coupé (compared to the sedan and
Touring versions), headroom is compensated for by lower seats
for both driver and passenger, giving the new Coupé occupants a
safe, cosseted feeling in the car. The new Coupé offers up to
440 litres of boot space (430 litres in the BMW 335i coupé) in
conjunction with other storage solutions in the interior.


Chassis - 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 (all-wheel-drive is available
as an option) 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 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+, brake pads are automatically dried in
wet weather conditions, and brakes are applied harder when any
possible brake fade is detected.

BMW's xDrive all-wheel-drive system will be available as an
alternative to rear-wheel drive. xDrive distributes power to
each of the four wheels as road conditions require, in harmony
with DSC to play an active role in helping to stabilize the
vehicle at the onset of oversteer or understeer. It will be
available 325xi, 328xi (U.S.), 330xi and 330xd Coupé versions.

To enhance the chassis and suspension set up, the 3 Series Coupé
comes with a rack and pinion steering system as standard.
However, customers can also opt for BMW's Active Steering system
that varies the steering ratio as a proportion of road speed. By
adjusting the steering ratio, steering angle and power
assistance to the speed of the car, Active Steering enables the
driver to manoeuvre the 3 Series Coupe with minimum effort when
parking and keep the car precisely on track at higher speeds.
The Active Steering system additionally links into the DSC+
system, adding small amounts of steering correction without
driver input when oversteer is detected.


Safety - The new 3 Series Coupé gets six standard air bags with
seatbelt pre-tensioners and belt force limiters, all activated
by the type and severity of a collision.

While Xenon headlights come as standard (to be checked depending
on markets), optionally available Adaptive Headlights sense the
steering angle to aim in the direction the car is travelling
(standard with xenon adaptive headlights in the U.S.).

The new 3 Series Coupé is equipped with BMW's Brake Force
Display. In an emergency stop, or when the ABS system is in
operation, the driver behind the Coupé is warned of the danger
ahead by an additional illumination of the LED brake lights in
the lamp cluster.

The new BMW 3 Series Coupe comes standard with runflat tires,
featuring the latest fail­safe running qualities. They allow the
driver to continue for up to 240 km (150 miles) even under
complete loss of pressure. The standard Tire Pressure Monitor
alerts the driver when the pressure of any tire falls 30 percent
below the ideal level.


Prices - Prices announced for the UK will start from £28,090 (on
the road) for the 325i SE Coupé, and from £33,420 for the 335i
SE Coupé. In Switzerland (VAT incl.), prices will start from
55,800 Swiss Francs for the 325i, 59,400 SF for the xDrive
equipped 325xi, 63,600 SF for the 330d, 62,600 SF for the 330i,
66,200 SF for the 330xi, 67,200 for the 330xd and 67,100 SF for
the 335i.
Article source:

About the author:
Automotive editor and publisher of http://www.motiontrends.com
car magazine and media services, since Oct. 2000. Based in
Toulouse, France. Previously, automotive editor of Al Hayat
daily newspaper in London (1988-2000).